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2 Advantages of Corrugated Plastic Pipes in Culvert Design

PVC pipes stacked in warehouse.
Water management represents one of the most important considerations when designing culverts under highways, bridges, and even driveways. The goal in any such system remains the same: prevent standing water from accumulating around the structure. Over time, water will lead to erosion and hasten the breakdown of the paving materials.
The two principal options for designing a culvert are reinforced concrete or corrugated plastic piping. Experts often differ in their opinion about which of the two represents the best option. This article will help to bring some clarity to the issue by outlining two key benefits of corrugated plastic drain pipes.

1. Less Expensive

Economics will always remain a driving force in design considerations. This fact holds true for both individual and municipal budgets. Corrugated plastic piping doesn't fail to deliver in this regard. In fact, it presents clear economic benefits not only where material cost is concerned, but also when you consider things like transportation and installation.
Reinforced concrete pipes tend to carry a much higher initial price tag than corrugated plastic piping. Manufacturing ease and efficiency accounts for a lot of this difference. Reinforced concrete pipes must be cast, piece by piece, in heavy duty molds — a laborious and time-consuming process. Plastic pipes, on the other hand, can be created with relative ease by means of special extrusion machines.
The economic advantages of corrugated plastic only increase when it comes to transporting materials to the job site. The difference here has to do with the relative weight of the two materials. Reinforced concrete represents a much heavier building material.
As a result, more trucks will be needed to deliver the concrete pipes to the job site. One estimate holds that 500 meters of concrete pipes with a diameter of 400mm would constitute approximately 4.7 truckloads. The equivalent amount of corrugated plastic pipes, on the other hand, would require only 2 truckloads.
Finally, installing reinforced concrete pipes tends to be a much more involved task. The weight of concrete requires that specialized machinery be used to lift and place each section. Corrugated plastic pipes are light enough that workers can easily lift and install each section without machine assistance.

2. Better Damage Resistance

By their very nature, reinforced concrete pipes represent highly rigid structures. At first glance, this might seem to give them a clear advantage over corrugated plastic pipes, which are much more compressible. Yet the rigidity of concrete can work against it by making it more difficult for the pipe to adapt to the natural process of settlement.
As soil compresses downward around the concrete, it will stand a much greater chance of developing cracks and other problems. A corrugated plastic pipe resists these stresses through its flexibility, which allows it to compress slightly when settlement occurs. This allows it to avoid the sorts of problems that will eventually lead to leakage otherwise.
Concrete pipes are also susceptible to damage stemming from the chemical conditions of the soil. High acidity environments tend to weaken concrete on a structural level. Roadway de-icing salts and other forms of runoff will contribute to this problem, making concrete more susceptible to damage. Corrugate plastic, on the other hand, represents a chemically inert substance and will not be damaged by acidic environments like concrete.
The advantages presented by corrugated plastic drain pipes should now be much clearer to you. For more information about selecting the right type of plastic pipe for your next construction project, please don't hesitate to contact the experts at Fast Flow Pipe & Supply, Inc. We can answer questions about what type of material is best for all your projects.