Common PVC Pipe Used for Irrigation Systems

Irrigation projects are time-intensive jobs that can quickly become expensive. A great way to save money on an irrigation project is to use PVC pipe for the laterals, or the pipe between the valves on the main water line and the sprinkler heads. Although PVC pipe works great as a lateral material, the kind of PVC pipe needed varies from job-to-job. When choosing what kind of pipe to use on a job, it is important to make sure that you take external factors, like water pressure and sunlight, into account. Choosing the wrong type will lead to a lot of extra, unnecessary maintenance. This week's blog post covers common types of PVC irrigation pipe. Get ready to save time, water, and money!

Schedule 40 and Schedule 80 PVC PipePVC pipe

When it comes to selecting PVC irrigation pipe, both Schedule 40 and Schedule 80 pipe are common types of irrigation PVC pipes. They handle pressure roughly the same, so you won't have to worry about more frequent breaks if you opt for Schedule 40. Schedule 80 pipe has thicker walls and is subsequently more structurally sound, so you might want to go with Schedule 80 pipe if you are building an above-ground system.

Regardless of the type of PVC pipe you choose, it is important to expose the pipe to as little sunlight as possible. While some PVC types have more resistance to sunlight than others, any PVC pipe that is exposed to sunlight for long periods of time will quickly become brittle. To sun-proof your irrigation system, there are several options. 3-4 coats of exterior latex paint offers a sufficient amount of sunlight protection. You can also use foam pipe insulation. Below-ground systems do not need sunlight protection. Finally, water pressure is not a huge issue when it comes to laterals. Most pressure surges in irrigation systems occur in the main line. Subsequently, you will only need PVC pipe that has a PSI rating equal to the pressure in your system.

Placement and Fittings

If you opt for a below-ground system, make sure that you bury the pipe at least 10" deep. PVC pipe is brittle, and a strong hit from a shovel can easily crack or break it. Additionally, PVC pipe that is not buried deep enough can float to the top of the soil during the winter. It is also a good idea to put foam pipe insulation on both above-ground and below-ground systems. This insulation can protect pipe from sunlight in above-ground systems and protects against freezing during the winter.

If you choose to use PVC pipe for your irrigation laterals, make sure to use pipe that is at least 3/4" thick. 1/2" inch laterals clog very easily. If you choose to use fittings, most common PVC fitting types work fine. Socket fittings with primer/cement hold securely, and threaded fittings (both metal and PVC) do the same. You can also use push fittings, which use flexible seals and teeth to lock into place. If you use push fittings, make sure to choose fittings with high-quality seals.


Poly Tube and PEX PipingPEX fitting

Poly tube and PEX piping are also great materials for irrigation laterals. These materials work best in underground systems; their flexibility makes them ideal for use in rocky soil or next to a large rock. Poly tube and PEX piping also work well in frigid climates. They do not require any extra insulation against the cold. When choosing to use one or the other, keep in mind that PEX piping is essentially a slightly stronger version of poly tube. However, PEX piping's relatively high price makes it impractical to use for large irrigation jobs. Poly tube is also slightly more susceptible to breaks than PVC pipe. Subsequently, you will want to choose pipe with a PSI rating 20-40 higher than the static pressure. If the system undergoes heavy usage, it is a good idea to go with an even higher PSI rating to ensure that no breaks occur.

Placement and Fittings

Poly tube and PEX piping should only be used in below-ground systems. Like PVC pipe, you should bury pipes of these materials at least 10" deep to avoid shovel breaks and damage during the winter. Burying poly tube and PEX piping requires a special plow, but most machines of this type can dig 10" deep.

Poly tube and PEX piping can be attached to the main line with clamps. Additionally, push fittings can also be used. Saddles are becoming an increasingly popular way to attach poly tube and PEX piping to sprinkler heads. If you opt to use a saddle that requires drilling, make sure to clean the piping thoroughly before attaching it to anything to remove excess plastic.

Hopefully you are now able to make a better-informed decision regarding irrigation PVC pipes. Make sure to visit the PVC Fittings Online store for the best deals on PVC pipe, fittings, and tools. Happy building!