Polyethylene tubing, also called poly tubing, is the standard material for drip irrigation water supply. However, rigid PVC pipe may be adapted for use in a drip irrigation system. If you become familiar with the installation procedures and characteristics of poly and PVC pipe, you can choose the right type for your drip irrigation system.
Polyethylene drip tubing is flexible and thin-walled, whereas PVC pipe is rigid and thick-walled. Flexible poly may be twisted and turned through landscaping, vegetable rows and around trees. To run PVC around obstacles, the rigid pipe must be cut and glued with special connectors, called fittings. Additionally, poly tubing may be cut with general-purpose scissors, whereas PVC must be cut with a hacksaw or special PVC cutters.
Whereas PVC resists punctures, cracks and breaking, thin-walled poly tubing easily becomes damaged. A careless strike from a garden spade or shovel can sever poly tubing from its main line. Even left undisturbed, poly tubing will deteriorate long before PVC pipe.
Cutting and gluing PVC pipe is considerably more difficult than installing poly drip tubing. Poly drip tubing connects to fittings and drip emitters by compression; separate pieces require no glue or curing time. On the other hand, PVC pipe must be measured, cut with special tools and glued with PVC primer and solvent welding glue.
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