Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is made from a plastic and vinyl combination material. The pipes are durable, hard to damage, and long lasting. They do not rust, rot, or wear over time. For that reason, PVC piping is most commonly used in water systems, underground wiring, and sewer lines.
PVC was first developed in 1925 when a BF Goodrich employee, Dr. Waldo Semon, attempted to invent a method for bonding metal and rubber. After blending materials together to create a strong and flexible material, Semon discovered PVC. Nonetheless, the product remained virtually useless for another decade. In the late 1930s, it was found to have great shock absorbing abilities. This discovery led to the creation of long lasting PVC tire treads.
Two decades later, PVC pipe was invented. By heating PVC, a machine called an extruder could be used to push it into hollow pipes. This made piping that was extremely solid and virtually indestructible. Using these pipes for irrigation systems proved to be effective, and PVC pipe has since been considered an affordable and reliable means for water piping.
Due to the ability of PVC pipe to withstand extreme movement and bending, it is also increasingly used in earthquake prone areas; it can withstand the rigorous shaking of the earth without experiencing any damage. The smooth surface of pipe is also resistant to bacterial contamination, such as E. coli. Therefore, many water companies rely on PVC pipes in their systems in order to keep them free of contamination.
For most uses, this type of piping is considered very safe. There have been some reported cases of the pipe shattering when used to transport high-pressured gases, however, and it is not recommended for this use in most circumstances. Studies also showed that PVC pipe produced before the mid-1970s could leach chemicals into the fluids flowing through them, but changes in manufacturing methods have reduced this risk significantly.