PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is a type of piping often used in plumbing applications. Despite the many benefits of PVC pipes, this type of piping has several disadvantages associated with it.
PVC pipes are self-insulating and capable of handling very high-temperature water. However, PVC pipes are not very flame resistant; they are subject to melting at temperatures of only a few hundred degrees.
PVC pipes are only available in a small number of sizes. PVC pipes for plumbing can typically be purchased in sizes only ranging from ½ to 2 inches. PVC pipe joints can be very bulky, which restricts them from use in tight places.
According to Builder's Websource, PVC pipes are very lightweight which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Because they are so lightweight, PVC pipes are more prone to cracking when they are dropped or stepped on. Compared with other types of plumbing pipes, such as copper, PVC pipes are more susceptible to cracking during an earthquake.
According to Savvy Cafe, PVC pipes contain traces of compounds that are harmful to the environment. Solvents used to join PVC pipes and fittings together contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Some people claim that water drawn through PVC pipes can come out with a slight plastic taste. PVC pipes require a curing period of 24 hours before they can be pressurized with water. Because it is so easy to install, some contractors employ unskilled labor to install PVC piping. This can lead to improper or careless installation.