Plumbing may not be the most glamorous part of your lab, but it is among the most important. Laboratories have special considerations to make in terms of their plumbing, specifically in terms of materials. Your standard plumbing system is not going to be able to safely dispose of waste (meaning anything from moves from the drains into the pipes, whether that is hazardous chemicals or just water). At LCS Constructors, we can provide you with the plumbing systems you need for your laboratory through our lab design services in Houston. To understand exactly why it is so important to hire a skilled constructor for this work, in this blog, we will give a brief overview of the preferred plumbing materials for laboratories.
How it Works
To understand laboratory plumbing, you must first understand the basics of what happens once waste goes down the sink. As the waste travels down to the municipal sewer, it flows through a p-trap. P-traps are usually located directly below sinks and floor drains, and they are used to keep gases from the sewer from rising through the drains into your laboratory. The p-traps must be filled with liquid to function, so to keep liquid inside, there is a vent pipe in every p-trap. For systems that are not in a laboratory, this vent piping is usually made of either PVC or cast iron, as they are cost-effective. However, laboratory plumbing cannot use either of these materials due to the fact that it is possible for high-temperature, corrosive chemicals to follow through the waste stream. Instead, plumbing materials must be chosen based on the use of the lab. Below are some materials commonly used in laboratory plumbing.
Polypropylene is a plastic that can be used for a broad range of applications, including laboratory plumbing. It is a good option because it is resistant to both heat and corrosion. However, there are a couple of disadvantages, some of which are inherent to plastic piping. Due to plumbing codes, polypropylene cannot be used to return air plenums, which can be a burden on your HVAC system if your lab uses plenum return. Additionally, plastic pipes in general need more support than metal pipes. Also, polypropylene pipes are often noisy when waste runs through them. Finally, because the joints of the pipe are made with thermal fusion, construction is labor intensive.
CPVC is another piping material option that resists corrosion and heat. CPVC is set with cement in a process that is usually less labor intensive than polypropylene pipe construction, though it may take some time to set. However, it has the same disadvantages as polypropylene related to plastic piping.
If plastic piping is not an option for a laboratory, they have several other options, including glass piping. Glass is highly resistant to corrosion and is acceptable by for in return air plenums. The disadvantages of glass piping include that it is fragile, expensive, and labor-intensive.
When you need plumbing designed and installed in your laboratory, contact LCS Constructors. We are Houston’s leading expert in laboratory construction. Contact us to learn more about our lab design services today!