Using PVC as an Air Compressor Lines

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Forum topic by sIKE posted 08-16-2008 07:27 AM 46534 views 1 time favorited 58 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3896 days

08-16-2008 07:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

As many of you know I have recently put my Air Compressor up in the loft of my shop and ran Sch 40 PVC down to my bench. What I have found so far is a bit on the disappointing side. The pipe itself has not given me any issues. I have been having problems at a couple of points. The first and primary problems are at the threaded PVC couplers where I have to connect the brass to the PVC itself. These couplers keep wanting to split on me once under pressure and exposed to the heat in the loft. The other are at elbows, but I had only one of these crack.

I am using the white 3/4” Sch 40 PVC pipe and I am thinking that I am going to have to rip it all out and replace it with copper. This is not a fun prospect and if I make the call I will probably start by making a copper run to the front of the loft and hang a hose reel down until I have the time and $$ to put the copper into place down at the bench level.

Has anyone tried the pre-solder copper couplings yet?

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

58 replies so far

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3862 days

#1 posted 08-16-2008 07:44 AM

I have my compressor in the garage and just cut a hole so I could run a hose into my basement shop. The hose is relatively cheap, flexible and comes in almost any length. Doesn’t answer your exact question, but there’s an alternative solution that’s an easy fix.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Steve2's profile


75 posts in 3713 days

#2 posted 08-16-2008 07:52 AM

Try nylon (hose) lines – see /

-- Regards, Steve2

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4130 days

#3 posted 08-16-2008 08:12 AM

Not sure about PVC but if you do end up swapping it out, just use galv. steel pipes. A lot cheaper than copper.

If you do go with copper you can forget about soldering by using compression fittings.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6864 posts in 4122 days

#4 posted 08-16-2008 08:12 AM

Hi sIKE;

Since my apprenticeship was served as a plumber, I can’t bring myself to use those fittings. I guess I’m “Old School”.

I have to imagine they work just fine, or they wouldn’t be so readily available.

There, that’s about 2 cents worth, I guess I’m done!

Good luck with it.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View NY_Rocking_Chairs's profile


515 posts in 3739 days

#5 posted 08-16-2008 12:01 PM

Just like lead-free is readily available but doesn’t solder worth the 2 cents…well unless you put the pipe and fittings through a sand blaster, acid bath, don’t touch with human skin and heat to 1000 F.

-- Rich, anybody want a peanut?

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3957 days

#6 posted 08-16-2008 01:03 PM

Rule of thumb around here is never use plastic plumbing pipe for compressed air (hence the splitting and such.)

Agreeing, copper will be expensive. Never used pre-soldered. Never needed it.

I would avoid compression fittings. Although I don’t know the specs. on them, most house water pressure is in the 50 lb. range and I wouldn’t feel comfortable using the comp fittings. I’m betting they really aren’t designed for 100 lbs or more from air comp.

‘Round here we use black pipe. I’m thinking alittle cheaper even than galv. When connecting hard line to the compressor, you might consider a flex line to isolate the hard pipe connection from vibration.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3896 days

#7 posted 08-16-2008 03:08 PM

Thanks for all of the advise.


The nylon solution looks interesting, are you using it?

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3886 days

#8 posted 08-16-2008 03:18 PM

I like the soldered copper pipe myself. It cost a little more, but the ability to cut the pipe to whatever length you need and shape it the way you want, seems to be a good offset.

View PaBull's profile


957 posts in 3807 days

#9 posted 08-16-2008 04:35 PM

In the past I had a shop for 10 years and for me pvc worked just fine… (sorry not advice you are looking for)

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

View Karson's profile


35134 posts in 4543 days

#10 posted 08-16-2008 05:45 PM

I’m thinking that flexable rubber hose is the way to go. I have a 50 ft run to make to my workbench and as an outside drop when needed there.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4456 days

#11 posted 08-16-2008 05:56 PM

Yep…had PVC for 10 years too…no problem….my joints were just glued.

View mbike1356's profile


3 posts in 3753 days

#12 posted 08-16-2008 05:59 PM

I have used PVC for several years the only problem ever encountered was when using som fittings that were old. As far as the threaded connections go try using a male threaded piece of PVC, teflon tape and pipe dope, then add the fitting. Don’t torque the fitting too tight. Don’t run more than 150 PSI in the lines.

View douginaz's profile


220 posts in 4144 days

#13 posted 08-16-2008 06:47 PM

Having witnessed a PVC failure first hand in a shop I worked in, I will not use it for air line. The shop I worked in had added some square footage and ran 2” Schd 40 PVC as a temp. air line. The line failed at a coupling, a fellow working at a bench received a laceration on the top of his of his skull about 6 inches long that went to the bone. Bled like a stuck hog – the rest of the pieces took out two eight foot light fixtures, not just knocking them down but breaking them beyond use. The only thing the investigation could come up with for the failure was an unseen weak spot in the pipe. This pipe did not “come apart” it exploded. All that damage from 100 PSI. I might use it in a pinch, but not for long and not as a main run.

I’m not trying to rain on any bodies parade, just trying to get the other side of the story out.
Doug in AZ.

-- If you need craft books - please visit our small business at

View SawDustnSplinters's profile


321 posts in 3923 days

#14 posted 08-16-2008 07:34 PM

I had the use of an old shop for while about 5 years ago and the deceased old guy who built it had 220V outlets in convenient locations as well as galvanized steel air lines running all around the perimeter of the shop with convenient places to tag into the air. Those lines probably been there for many years and will probably last many more….

-- Frank, Dallas,TX , , “I have a REALLY BIG chainsaw”

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3910 days

#15 posted 08-16-2008 08:07 PM

ya pvc’s not good for air. its not made to handle the pressure and it is an insulator so it doesn’t let the air cool down because the air comes out of the compressor very hot. no experience with the copper fittings you’re talking about but copper is the way to go. don’t use steel because as the air cools there will be moisture and it will rust the steel but not the copper.

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