Sound and reliable joining is essential to any piping system as that is what provides security of the flowstream within the pipe. After all, every pipeline is only as strong as its weakest link – the joint. Whether the need is to be preserve the quality of the media being transported or prevention of infiltration or leakage, the joining technology should be robust, durable and capable of secure, leak-free connection to the full range of system appurtenances.

A traditional bell-and-spigot water or sewer system joins 10 or 20-foot lengths of pipe that create an opportunity for leaks at every joint. Today’s installation standards allow new pipelines to leak thousands of gallons of water each year by design. Validated water system audit data from 246 water utilities in 2013 revealed that some 130.1 billion gallons of water were lost due to system leakage. The overall potential volume of water lost due to leakage becomes “staggering” when one considers that there are over 50,000 water utilities in the Unites States alone. (11)

Plastic Pipe Industry research and standardization initiatives have culminated in a system of technologies that provide the end-user with the potential for absolute minimal system leakage. The thermal fusion technologies that have been developed for many of the plastic piping systems (PE, PP and PVC, for example) provide for a joint that is as strong or stronger than the pipe itself when properly performed with the appropriate equipment in accordance with industry standards. The end result is the potential for a leak-free piping system offering minimal potential for flowstream loss or contamination, optimal system performance, and overall longevity of the system’s operation. To the system operator or the end-user, precious natural resources are saved and the energy to treat, store and distribute potable water, as an example, is reduced thus providing an overall lower carbon footprint for the system.

In the case of plastic municipal storm sewer systems, improvements in joint design have delivered measurable increased benefits. Today’s corrugated plastic PE pipe comes with a factory-installed premium rubber gasket providing an exceptional soil-tight joint. For increased performance the pipe bells and gaskets can be easily modified to deliver water-tight performance – to the same level required for sanitary sewer systems. Further, with pipe lengths of 20 feet, PE storm water pipe systems have roughly one-third the number of joints as compared to a concrete pipe system. Clearly, this correlates to a significant decrease in leak potential for these systems.

The long-term integrity and durability of the joints in plastic piping correlate to lower overall operational cost, reduced maintenance and repair costs, minimal loss or contamination of the flowstream and overall improvement in the operational efficiency of the piping system. Benefits such as these demonstrate the long-term serviceability and overall sustainability of plastic piping systems.