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Old 01-11-2011, 04:31 PM   #1
jlansaw
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Default Can Pex be used for air lines?

I find conflicting arguments regarding the use of PEX tubing for air lines.
I know people are using it for air lines but what are the problems associated with its use. The cost of PEX for a compressed air system in my new shop would be considerably less than copper or black pipe not to mention easier to install. I plan to run lines in the attic and inside the walls so uv is not a concern. Your thoughts and experience appreciated!
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:39 PM   #2
mrvalvoline
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

I installed pex tubing (truck air brake line) and the push connect fittings in my shop, and have freinds tha have used it for years. No problems. Easy to modify (I added additional outlets after I installed my lift) I ran mine on the shop wall, not in the wall.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

PEX-AL-PEX is rated for compressed air use. It's a PEX-Aluminum-PEX sandwich.

I priced some a little while ago. It's cheaper than copper and a lot quicker to install.


I just used some PVC*















*NOT REALLY - NEVER USE PVC - FOR ANYTHING. IT'LL KILL YOU DEAD.




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Last edited by spongerich; 01-11-2011 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Check out the RapidAir system. I've got one on order myself.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Rapidair is only good for 75 ft. or so I need more length than that and would like to use 3/4" for my main run.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

I just plumbed my shop with Pex. I used 250' of 3/4 and about 50' of 1/2 in the install. Works great.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

I think I have heard some people say it doesnt pull the heat out of the air as well and therefore doesnt pull the moisture out. I honestly dont think that its that big of a deal or big of a problem. Then again, Im not painting cars.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

[QUOTE=spongerich;1278742]PEX-AL-PEX is rated for compressed air


I just used some PVC*


*NOT REALLY - NEVER USE PVC - FOR ANYTHING. IT'LL KILL YOU DEAD.




Ok all kidding aside....why not PVC for airline?
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

[QUOTE=jduffle;1279358]
Quote:
Originally Posted by spongerich View Post
PEX-AL-PEX is rated for compressed air


I just used some PVC*


*NOT REALLY - NEVER USE PVC - FOR ANYTHING. IT'LL KILL YOU DEAD.




Ok all kidding aside....why not PVC for airline?
The failure mode of PVC is to shatter. Since compressed air has a lot of energy it turns into shrapnel and can do a lot of damage.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:13 AM   #10
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Plastic tubing is hard to get sloped right for moisture removal. Moisture tends to collect in the low spots and "burps" out. But then plastic lines don't cool the air very well in the first place so moisture will mostly find it's way out at the tool. Putting plastic lines inside a wall just adds insult to injury for moisture removal.

Follow the directions here:
http://www.tptools.com/
http://www.tptools.com/StaticText/ai...ng-diagram.pdf

Air lines are not rocket science but there is no need to reinvent the wheel either.
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:37 AM   #11
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Confession time!

My and my dads garage has been plumbed with sched 40 PVC pipe for our air line for over 10 years now and doesn't leak a bit!

I know some may think we are crazy or stupid, but it works and has done so for 13 years now that i figured up how long its been since we renovated it.

Jim
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:08 AM   #12
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jduffle View Post
Confession time!

My and my dads garage has been plumbed with sched 40 PVC pipe for our air line for over 10 years now and doesn't leak a bit!

I know some may think we are crazy or stupid, but it works and has done so for 13 years now that i figured up how long its been since we renovated it.

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Old 01-12-2011, 06:55 AM   #13
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

i know a few people that have PVC lines running thru out there shops without issues.i'll be running it in mine soon.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:05 AM   #14
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by intimadatorsquizz View Post
i know a few people that have PVC lines running thru out there shops without issues.i'll be running it in mine soon.
Here we go with the PVC debate!

If you use it and it works then good for you-till it explodes and sends millions of shattered pieces of plastic everywhere. Some things you can go cheap on, pvc air lines is not something I would ever chose to. I can use a block of wood under a car as a jack stand also. It would be great until the day it rolled or slipped and then the 30-40 bucks I saved not using the right material doesn't seem like such a savings.

To the OP, I'm not sure if just regular pex is rated for air lines or not. Or if it is a good idea or not. But I can tell you that you should have 30-40 FT of copper or black pipe right out of the compressor before any pex. This is to cool the air and take the condinsation out of it. Plastic will not cool the air like metal pipes will. Then AFTER the air is cool, not right next to the compressor you need a filter of some sort.

All of this has been discused in great depth, I'm sure if you do a search you will find many hours of reading on air lines.
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:09 AM   #15
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

The chemical plant that I manage uses PEX for all instrument air. The white is not UV stable but the black is. Works fine for six years now.
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:31 AM   #16
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

If we put all of the PVC debate threads on GJ together end-to-end, we could wrap it around the world three times.

We need a sticky with them all in it, and then we can provide a single link to use as a default response to "why not PVC"?
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:38 AM   #17
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by intimadatorsquizz View Post
i know a few people that have PVC lines running thru out there shops without issues.i'll be running it in mine soon.
Could you put me in your will so I can get your tools ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jduffle View Post
My and my dads garage has been plumbed with sched 40 PVC pipe for our air line for over 10 years now and doesn't leak a bit!

I know some may think we are crazy or stupid, but it works and has done so for 13 years now that i figured up how long its been since we renovated it.
Been living on borrowed time quite a long time, think its time to replace that stuff.


All joking aside, PVC will shatter and send out shrapnel, you most likely will not be injured because unless you spend your life in the garage, you wont be there or will be in the other end. Your odds of winning the lottery are better then the odds of getting hurt by PVC lines going boom, but why risk it.

Think of it like a garage and car guy, you will not be harmed but your cars new paint job will be destroyed...now are you willing to let that happen ?
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:55 AM   #18
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by intimadatorsquizz View Post
i know a few people that have pvc lines running thru out there shops without issues.i'll be running it in mine soon.
dont do it...how are we gonna cruise carlise sea pirate ect ... If your dead or cant see from pieces of pvc in your eyes.
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:58 AM   #19
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

We all want to be relatively safe when working in our garages. I myself will be having a young son of mine with me. There are hundreds of people on this site that talk about the dangers of PVC pipe for airlines, and hundreds of people that say they have been using it with no problems.
I myself would like to see PHOTOS of exploded airline and MULTIPLE documented cases of PVC failure. I just Googled “ PVC air explosion” and the top ten replies turned up this 22 year old document. When I have time I may look for more compelling proof but for the source to be quoted so often I would HOPE it is correct.


(This document was shortened to fit the 10,000-character limit)

Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins

The Use of Polyvinyl Chloride Pipe in Above Ground Installations.
OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins - Table of Contents by Year OSHA Hazard
Information Bulletins - Table of Contents by Year

* Information Date: 19880520
* Record Type: Hazard Information Bulletin
* Subject: The Use of Polyvinyl Chloride Pipe in Above Ground Installations.

May 20, 1988

MEMORANDUM FOR REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

THRU: LEO CAREY
Director
Office of Field Programs

FROM: EDWARD BAIER
Director
Directorate of Technical Support

SUBJECT: Safety Hazard Information Bulletin on
the Use of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pipe
in Above ground Installations

The Dallas Regional Office has brought to our attention a potential serious hazard
existing with the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic pipes for transporting
compressed gases in above ground installations. An employee in a Texas plant was
injured recently by a rupture in a PVC compressed air line. Plastic projectiles from
the point of rupture caused lacerations of the employee's hand. This is noteworthy
because the Plastic Pipe Institute, in its Recommendation B dated January 19, 1972,
recommends against the use of thermoplastic pipe to transport compressed air or
other compressed gases in exposed plant piping. (See attachment.)

Furthermore, sections 842.32, 842.43 and 849.52(b) of the American National
Standards Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ANSI/ASME) B31.8-1986,
Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems Standard, limit the operating
pressure of plastic piping distribution systems to 100 pounds per inch (psi) and
prohibit the installation of such systems above ground except where ". . . the above
ground portion of the plastic service line is completely enclosed in a conduit or
casing of sufficient strength to provide protection from external damage and
deterioration." (Excerpts attached.)

Additional consensus standards applicable to PVC compressed gas systems include
American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) D1785-86, Standard Specification for
Polyvinyl Chloride Plastic Pipe, Schedules 40, 80, and 120, and ASTM D2513-86a,
Standard Specification for Thermoplastic Gas Pressure Piping Systems.

Please disseminate this bulletin to all Area Offices, State Plan States and
Consultation Projects.

Attachments


February 14, 1989

Mr. Jack Cannova Tempe
Industrial
412 W. Dryon Street
Tempe, Arizona 85283

Dear Mr. Cannova:

In response to your recent inquiry concerning our regulatory position on the use of
plastic pipe for compressed air systems, I trust this letter will clear up any
confusion over the issue.

It is our position that PVC pipe shall not be used as a means of transporting
compressed air. This position follows the manufacturer's own statements that PVC is
unsuitable for compressed air systems. We do allow the use of certain ABS materials
that are specifically designed for compressed air systems. One such product is
"Duraplus" air line piping system ABS pipe. However, as in any such system, the
manufacturer's specifications on acceptable pressure and temperature considerations
must be followed.

In closing, misapplication of a product, such as using PVC for compressed air
systems, may result in citations and penalties being issued dependent upon the
specific conditions.

I appreciate your concern and inquiry into this potential safety hazard.

Sincerely,

SAM A. ROGERS
Bureau Chief


October 5, 1988

Mr. Tim Arbogast
Arizona OSHA
800 W. Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007-2922

Dear Mr. Arbogast:

It has recently come to my attention that there is a severe safety regarding the
improper usage of plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. This pipe is designed for
the transmittal of liquids, and is dangerous when used for transmitting compressed
air or gas. Unfortunately, PVC has been frequently used with compressed air in
construction projects across the country.

The state of Washington has notified the public that PVC pipe is not to be used in
compressed air systems. I have also learned that the state of Nevada is in the
process of making a similar determination and announcement. Additionally
manufacturers of this product advise against its use with compressed air in their
catalogue publications.

I believe that it is in the best interests of the citizens of our state if your
office would expeditiously make such an announcement. A notice to users of the
hazards of PVC pipe - when used improperly - would have the effect of preventing
possible severe injury to people who work with or near this product.

By way of this letter, I am contacting the Department of Labor, OSHA, in Washington,
D.C. and asking their officials to report to me on actions taken on the Federal
level to restrict the use of this pipe and to notify users of the potential hazards
involved in improper use of PVC pipe.

Your timely consideration of this request is appreciated.

Sincerely,

DENNIS DeCONCINI
United States Senator


STATE OF WASHINGTON
Department of
Labor & Industries
Hazard Alert

For more information, call: 1-800-423-7233

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 26, 1988

PVC pipe not to be used in compressed air systems

OLYMPIA -- The Department of Labor and Industries warned today that plastic
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe cannot be used in compressed air piping systems
without the risk of explosion.

When PVC piping explodes, plastic shrapnel pieces are thrown in all directions.

"We're seeing more incidents of explosive failure, and we're citing more employers
for using PVC air system piping," said Paul Merrill, senior safety inspector in
L&I's Spokane office.

"It's probably just a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured in one of
these explosions unless everyone pays more attention to the manufacturer's
warnings," Merrill said.

Last year, a section of PVC pipe being used for compressed air exploded 27 feet
above a warehouse floor. A fragment of the pipe flew 60 feet and embedded itself in
a roll of paper. Fortunately, nobody was in the area at the time.

A PVC pipe explosion in a new plant in Selah broke an employee's nose and cut his
face.

PVC piping buried 3 feet underground at a Yakima manufacturing plant exploded,
opening up a crater approximately 4 feet deep by 3 feet across.

Only one type of plastic pipe has been approved for use with compressed air. That
pipe, Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS), is marked on the pipe as approved for
compressed air supply.

By law, employers must protect their workers by avoiding the use of unapproved PVC
pipe in such systems. Existing compressed air systems which use PVC piping must be
completely enclosed, buried or adequately guarded according to specifications
approved by a professional consulting engineer.

NOTICE TO EMPLOYERS: If you have questions about the suitability of a material for
air system piping, call Labor and Industries at the number listed above for a free
consultation.

NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES: If you suspect that a pressurized PVC piping hazard exists,
bring it to the attention of your employer. If you do not obtain satisfactory
results, you may file a confidential complaint with the Department of Labor and
Industries. Complaints are investigated promptly.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF ARIZONA
DIVISION OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH
P.O. BOX 19070
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 80005-9070

HAZARD ALERT

We have recently been made aware of a potentially serious hazard involving the
prohibited use of unprotected plastic (PVC( piping to transport compressed air and
other compressed gases in above ground installations.

While in Arizona we are not aware of any incidents of ruptured or exploding plastic
pipes, States such as Washington and Texas have experienced incidents and injuries.
Despite the lack of incidents in Arizona, we full recognize the potential for
similar occurrences in this State and thereby request that you review your
facilities and replace any such unsafe installations.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health will be providing a program
of awareness, assistance, and enforcement. This notice will be going to
representatives of industry associations, labor organizations, print and electronic
media.

Through our consultation and training program we will be providing assistance based
upon requests received from employers. Through our compliance programs, we will be
conducting unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with manufacturers'
specifications and American National Standards Institute and American Society of
Mechanical Engineers' Standard B 31.8-1986, which limits the operating pressure of
212-370-7341
RECOMMENDATION B
THERMOPLASTIC PIPING
FOR THE TRANSPORT OF COMPRESSED AIR
OR OTHER COMPRESSED GASES
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:09 PM   #20
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Default Re: Can Pex be used for air lines?

use copper and do it once.
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