Specifying MDPE pipe

Published:  30 June, 2017

Matt Silvester looks at the benefits MDPE water pipes can bring to high pressure mains water systems.

A relatively new material, MDPE water pipes are being used in plumbing more than ever before. The robustness of MDPE when used to transport high pressure mains water into properties is the reason why a significant number of existing lead and copper pipes are being replaced by this robust alternative across the modern world.

What is MDPE?

MDPE, or medium-density polyethylene, is a type of common plastic that has a uniquely specific density. It has very high shock- and drop-resistance properties, is less notch sensitive and is far more resistant to cracking than other plastics like HDPE. A versatile material, MDPE is used in a number of other industries and can be used in gas pipes, carrier bags and screw closures. It has a sound chemical resistance and is generally stable at room temperature. Furthermore, MDPE is particularly flexible, more cost-effective than other plastics and metals used in plumbing, is easily recycled and can handle swift temperature changes.

It is vital to note that MDPE pipes are made to complement MDPE pipe fittings. Attempting to use MDPE pipes with fittings of a different material could result in complications and potentially, a costly renovation job.

Benefits of MDPE Pipes

There are many benefits to choosing MDPE over other piping materials. It has a high impact resistance body, which allows it to absorb thermal and mechanical weight. All fittings and pipes are also designed to be easy to connect to, saving time on site. This ease of installation is particularly convenient if you are a beginner searching for a comparatively fast fix.

Contemporary MDPE pipes have a larger diameter, amplifying the water flow into a home and making it more powerful. In both residential and commercial properties, higher water flows can help lessen your energy bills and reduce stress on appliances.

While slightly more expensive than a basic plastic equivalent, MDPE water pipes are available with a cast-iron effect for use outside the home.

Most MDPE water pipes are available from all good retailers in the industry. However, some retailers will specialise in more environmentally-friendly materials and can often deliver premium fittings for a slightly expanded price.

MDPE pipes come in a number of dimensions. You need to consider the factors of the work at hand before you decide on a pipe diameter. This includes the scale of the job; whether residential or industrial, the geographical climate, work space and the quality of the water in the vicinity of the property.

The following MDPE pipe specifications are used throughout the world:

  • MDPE 20mm (Outside Diameter – 20mm, Inside Diameter – 15.4mm)
  • MDPE 25mm (Outside Diameter – 25mm, Inside Diameter - 20.4mm)
  • MDPE 32mm (Outside Diameter – 32mm, Inside Diameter - 26mm)
  • MDPE 50mm (Outside Diameter – 50mm, Inside Diameter – 40.8mm)
  • MDPE 63mm (Outside Diameter – 63mm, Inside Diameter – 51.4mm)

The size and quantity of the fittings needed will depend on the chosen MDPE pipe specifications. These fittings include tees, pipe saddles, stopcocks, clamps, joiners, reducers, end caps and elbows, among others.

Many city councils are now choosing to replace old water pipes with MDPE, especially in significant, city-wide works. As well as satisfying local government's requirements for cheaper, more environmentally-friendly options, MDPE pipes are also recyclable, making them a strong choice for such local authority works.

Matt Silvester is Director at On Demand Supplies

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