Using Plastic Pipe To Plumb Compressor Air

plastic compressed air piping
(Last Updated On: August 3, 2020)

From time to time I’ll get asked about using a plastic pipe to plumb compressed air. Plastic compressed air piping is a popular thing these days.

As a general rule, I advise against it. Plastic, when it fails, will shatter, obviously creating a serious health hazard for anyone in the vicinity as shards of plastic ricochet around the workshop or plant.

plastic pipes compressed air

The plastics I don’t recommend for plumbing compressed air are PVC, ABS, CPVC or even PVDF.

Though, depending on the diameter, some of these will show an acceptable pressure rating, one that appears to be able to handle the discharge pressure of a compressor, these plastics are not formulated to handle compressed air.

Some other plastics that are suitable for use in plumbing compressed air; Polyethylene or Polyurethane being the most common. The latter is more expensive than the former but provides better flexibility.

These two plastic tubing products are safe to use with compressed air, are relatively inexpensive, malleable, readily available, and when and if the compressed air pressure exceeds their pressure rating they simply blow up like a balloon and will ultimately pop….not shatter. These I recommend for use universally, assuming they suit the application.

I know of one company that makes a hard plastic pipe and fittings for use in compressed air lines. Nibco, supplying a product called Chem Aire. Information on their product is available here.

I do know that the Nibco product is not approved for use universally, so if you are inclined to use it, make sure it’s approved for compressed air use wherever you are.

When plumbing around your plant or home workshop I recommend Polyethylene or Polyurethane, rubber air hose or copper pipe, in that order.

Last, and the least desireable (only considered if other options cannot provide large enough diameter pipe for your plant’s air mains) is black pipe.

Hello, I am Bill, the Compressed-Air-Man. I have years of experience in industrial and residential compressed air applications, air compressors and general pneumatics. I created this site to help professionals, students, and DIYers understand and properly implement and maintain compress3ed air systems.


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