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What Is a Barrier Pipe?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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A barrier pipe is a type of plastic piping equipped with a built-in protective layer or coating. Without this extra layer of protection, oxygen and other gases could pass through the walls of the pipe, leading to corrosion within the plumbing system over time. Some of these gases could even lead to contamination of water supplies, which may contribute to illness. A barrier pipe keeps air and other gases out of the plumbing system to extend the life of the pipe and related components. These pipes may be used in water distribution systems, underfloor heating, or hot water heating systems.

Manufacturers rely on a variety of protective materials when constructing a barrier pipe. Many use some form of metal, such as aluminum or copper to act as a barrier between layers of a plastic pipe. The pipes themselves may also be constructed from different types of materials, depending on how they are used. Polyethlene, PVC, and polypropylene are among the most common barrier pipe materials. In many parts of the world, barrier pipes can be identified by their shiny surface, which helps to distinguish them from standard pipes.

One of the primary benefits of a barrier pipe is its ability to keep oxygen out of a plumbing system. This helps to protect iron and steel operating components from rust and corrosion. By reducing the risk of corrosion, these pipes extend the lives of plumbing components and help cut maintenance and repairs over time. In areas where pollution control is a concern, such as on a brownfield site, barrier piping also helps keep toxic materials out of the water supply. This helps to protect the health of nearby residents, and also improves the taste and smell of water.

Barrier pipe products tend to cost more on average than standard piping. This extra cost means that barrier piping is generally only used in systems that utilize ferrous iron or steel components. If the system consists of corrosion-resistant materials, a barrier pipe is generally only used when contamination or pollution is present.

The term barrier pipe is also used to refer to a specialty fire-resistant pipe product. These pipes are surrounded by an intumescent seal, which automatically expands when exposed to fire or high temperatures. It seals the contents of the pipe, and prevents fire from melting plastic pipes. An intumescent barrier also keeps smoke and other dangerous fumes out of the pipes, which helps to prevent contamination. These seals are particularly important when pipes transport gas or fuel, and are often required by building codes to protect property and occupants.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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