PVC pipes are a popular choice for house plumbing because of their durability. However, small beads of water that look like sweat can form outside the pipes. Do PVC pipes sweat, and how can you fix the issue? We have done extensive research and found the answer for you.
PVC pipes can sweat because of the temperature of the water within them and the area where the pipe is located. This can cause damage if not addressed properly. Luckily, there are simple ways to fix this problem:
- Ventilate naturally
- Install an exhaust fan
- Use a dehumidifier
- Install insulation materials
However you choose how to fix your sweating PVC pipes, we're here to offer some help. Let's dive right into the topic and answer your questions about PVC pipes.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is a hollow tube made of plastic. Water flows in and out of residential and industrial structures through these pipes.
This is a popular material for plumbing because it is resistant to corrosion. It is a durable pipe with a life span of at least 100 years. PVC pipes also cost less than other pipe materials. Plus, they are easy to install and maintain.
Why Do PVC Pipes Sweat?
On hot days, PVC pipes may have water droplets or sweat on their outer surface. This resembles beads of water on the outside of a cold glass of water in the summer. Just like with the glass, sweating pipes mean that condensation is happening.
Condensation occurs when it is warm inside the house and the temperature of the water in the pipes is cold. The warm air holds more moisture, thus making the area humid. When the humidity is high, the moisture turns into water droplets once in contact with the cold pipe surface.
How to Fix Sweating PVC Pipes
There are quick fixes to troubleshoot sweating pipes. These solutions will also prevent the occurrence of condensation in the future.
A quick remedy to prevent condensation is through natural ventilation. On warm days, open the windows in the kitchen to let the warm air go out.
While taking a shower, leave a small gap in the window to avoid steam build-up. Close the door also so the moisture will not escape to the rest of the house.
Ideally, dry clothes outside the house. But if this is not possible, dry clothes in a room with a window open. Wet clothes in an enclosed room will add more moisture to the air.
Do check as well if the tumble dryer is vented correctly. Using a tumble dryer releases steam and causes condensation on walls and plumbing.
Outside air comes in to cool the area also when windows are open. This will lower the humidity so pipes will not sweat.
An exhaust fan can help remove humidity in areas of the house that do not have adequate ventilation. This is especially helpful in bathrooms, attics, and basements.
Having an exhaust fan will allow better airflow in and out of the house. This will prevent moisture from condensing on pipes and other surfaces.
This can also remove unpleasant odors like the musty smell in the basement. It also removes contaminants in the air that can cause health issues.
A dehumidifier can remove humidity in the area where the sweating pipes are located. This machine removes or minimizes the moisture in the air so the cold pipes will not form water droplets.
The dehumidifier's fan absorbs the warm air. Its cold coils cause the warm air to condense and form water droplets in the machine. The water goes to the machine's tank. It then releases cool and dry air.
There are a lot of portable dehumidifiers available which can come in handy not just in your basement. As this brings down the moisture in the area, the air in the room helps it easier to breathe. This is especially helpful for people who have asthma or allergies.
Insulating pipes is a way to prevent condensation. The use of different insulation materials stops moisture to form on the pipes which can be dangerous if not solved.
Here are the different types of insulation for PVC pipes:
Polyethylene Foam Tube
A polyethylene foam tube is the most common insulation material as it is water-repellent, durable, and flexible. However, compared to rubber tubes, this does not adjust accordingly with temperature changes.
This insulation material is easy to install as it has a slit in the center and slides in the pipe quickly. It also does not need special hardware for installation. Instead, it has an adhesive on the slit to seal the material on the pipe and cover it properly.
A rubber pipe is a soft but durable insulation material. It can be used in the temperature range of -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
This kind of insulation is good for pipes where hot water passes through, as it can take higher temperatures than foam insulation. Rubber also expands and contracts when the temperature changes.
Rubber pipe is easy to use, especially on corners, as it is bendable and elastic. It may come with self-adhesives, making it easy to install as well.
Fiberglass Pipe Wrap
One way to keep the cold pipes from sweating is to use a fiberglass pipe wrap. This traps the air and lessens the transfer of heat. It is also fire and moisture-resistant.
Fiberglass pipe wrap comes in strips and has foil backing. The foil backing also prevents the pipe from losing heat when hot water passes through, thus reducing heating and cooling costs by 40% to 50%.
Another benefit of using a fiberglass pipe cover is it is a good soundproofing material. It reduces noise or vibration coming from the use of the pipes.
Why do you need to fix sweating pipes?
Sweating pipes may not look harmful. However, this can cause damage to the pipes and their surroundings. Fixing the pipes also prevents accidents and is cost-efficient.
Water droplets formed due to condensation can drip to the floor. A pool of water on the floor is a safety and health hazard. This can cause slipping accidents if unattended.
Damp flooring also promotes mold and mildew growth as well. This can trigger allergies or respiratory problems.
Water can cause damage as well to the drywall, baseboard, and flooring. Repairing this will cost more than buying and installing insulation materials.
Pipes used for water need to be properly insulated to prevent condensation. But this can also help keep the temperature of the water not to be too cold or too hot.
This means that the water heater will work less frequently to keep the desired temperature in your kitchen and bathrooms. This thermal efficiency translates to saving energy costs as it will not need more electricity to heat the water.
Prolong Life Span of Pipes
Maintaining pipes with proper insulation prolongs their life span. Insulation materials prevent lines from not freezing during winter.
Water left in the pipes freezes and expands which affects the continuous water supply. If it expands further, this can cause cracks and even make the pipes burst.
Can pipes leak?
Is water still present on the pipe or the floor after fixing the pipe sweating problem? This is a sign of a leak.
Check the installation of pipes and their fittings. Improper installation can cause gaps in the pipes and water to go out of the pipe.
The glue used to connect the pipes also should be for PVC pipes. Using the correct glue ensures that the PVC pipes adhere well and prevent leakage.
Another way to check for leakage is through the water meter. The way to do this is by turning off all the faucets and water sources. Check the water meter and write down the number reading on it.
Stop the use of water for thirty minutes. Then check the number on the meter again. An indication of a leak is if the number moved despite not using water.
To Wrap Up
Sweating PVC pipes is caused by condensation. We gave you different quick and easy ways to prevent this. We hope the information this article share helps solve your pipe problem.
Made it to the end? We have other articles that you might find helpful: