What Is the Difference Between PVC & CPVC Pipe?

There are many things to take into account when considering the types of pipes to use in a building project. Cost is a factor, but the use and the location of the pipes will also help determine what type of piping will be best.

PVC has become a fixture in plumbing.


PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. This type of pipe is less expensive than other types, resists cracking and isn't affected by acids. It is manufactured in white, gray and clear, and can be rigid or flexible.


CPVC stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. A free radical process replaces a portion of the hydrogen present in PVC with chlorine.

Uses of PVC

Because of its strength and resilience, PVC is used for many things. Depending on its width, it can be used to move liquid and gases safely. Because of its composition, PVC is limited to carrying liquids at temperatures less than 140 degrees, making PVC unsuitable for carrying hot water.

Uses of CPVC

CPVC has similar uses as PVC. However, because of the chlorinating process, CPVC is able to withstand higher pressures and temperatures. CPVC has an upper temperature tolerance of 180 degrees, so it can be used for hot water pipes.

Safety Concerns

Both PVC and CPVC are polymer products and will melt in a building fire. CPVC especially has been found to harbor bacteria on the interior surface. All PVC and CPVC piping is joined using cements that are known pollutants and toxins. Ventilation is vital during the installation process. Finally, because these products are lower priced, they are sometimes installed by inferior laborers. It is important to check the credentials of every technician.

Shellie Braeuner

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.