Anda di halaman 1dari 10

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

Changes to North American PVC Pressure Pipe Standards

Craig Fisher 1 , Shah Rahman 2


In the United States, the American Water Works Association standard AWWA C900, Polyvinyl
Chloride (PVC) Pressure Pipe and Fabricated Fittings, 4 In. Through 12 In. (100 mm Through
300 mm), for Water Transmission and Distribution, is arguably the most widely used of all pipe
material standards for water distribution and transmission, as well as for sewer force main
applications. Approved by the AWWA Board of Directors in June 2007, the latest version of the
standard, AWWA C900-07, became effective on September 1, 2007. The new edition is
significantly different from all previous updates in that it departs from status quo with regard to
factors of safety, built-in surge allowance, treatment of occasional surges, and the treatment of
recurring (cyclic) surges. The goal of the AWWA PVC subcommittee was to harmonize the new
revision with other thermoplastic pressure pipe standards from AWWA and ASTM International.
Other goals were to improve the design approach in order to more accurately reflect the
material’s capabilities and to allow greater precision when comparing AWWA C900 to other
thermoplastic pressure pipe standards. The primary effect of these changes will be felt by the
design engineering community in North America. This paper discusses thermoplastic pressure
pipe design, and provides specific examples that compare C900-07 to the previous edition.


The first ASTM standard for PVC pressure pipes in North America was published in 1963. The
publication of AWWA C900 in 1975 marked a new era in pipe materials as it was the first
thermoplastic piping standard for potable water distribution published by AWWA. This was
followed by the publication of AWWA C905 in 1988 for water transmission and distribution
which included larger diameter pipes from 16 inches and above. For the next two decades, there
were two competing design approaches for PVC pressure pipe: the Pressure Class approach as
described in AWWA C900 (AWWA 1997) and the Pressure Rated approach as described in
AWWA C905 (AWWA 1997a). The former incorporated a built-in surge allowance as well as a
factor of safety of 2.5 while the latter did not have a built-in surge allowance and used a factor of
safety of 2.0. When the AWWA PVC Committee began its update of the 1997 versions of these
two standards, there was a strong desire to harmonize the two standards. When this work was
underway, and AWWA Research Foundation (AwwaRF) was publishing the report Long-Term
Performance Prediction for PVC Pipe (AwwaRF 2007) which emphasized that design stresses
between standards should be consistent. It also noted that the use of a built-in surge allowance
was questionable and resulted in overly conservative design. It further stated that pipes operating
under fatigue conditions should consider fatigue in the design of the system. These items, along

Technical Director & Western Regional Engineer, Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association, 2711 LBJ Freeway,
Suite 1000, Dallas, Texas 75234; tel. (972) 243-3902; fax (972) 243-3907;
Vice President – Technical & Municipal Services, S&B Technical Products/Hultec, 1300 E. Berry St.,
Fort Worth, TX 76119; tel. (817) 923-3344; fax (817) 923-1339;

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

with a long and positive track record spanning more than three decades with PVC were some of
the motivating forces behind the changes to PVC pressure pipe standards in North America.


The Stress Regression Line (SRL) is utilized to determine the long-term response of PVC pipes
to applied stresses, as outlined in ASTM D2837 (ASTM 2000a). Figure 1 shows the SRL for
conventional PVC (uPVC, unplasticized PVC) used in the manufacture of pressure pipe in North
America. This tool is fundamental to discussions of the various design approaches for
thermoplastic pipe used by standardization organizations over the years. The long-term response
to applied hydrostatic pressure is based on the hoop stress rating at 100,000 hours.

Figure 1: Stress Regression Line (SRL) for PVC

The ratio of diameter to minimum wall thickness (D/t) of a thermoplastic pipe is referred to the
Dimension Ratio (DR) and is used to classify the pressure capacity of a pipe. A basic analysis of
PVC pressure pipes can be performed using the free body diagram shown in figure 2.

Figure 2, Free Body Diagram of PVC Pipe under Hydrostatic Pressure

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

The hoop stress and internal pressure in a PVC pipe can be related by:

S(2t) = P (D - t) (1)
S = hoop stress, psi
t = minimum wall thickness, inches
P = internal pressure, psi
D = outside diameter, inches
L = unit length, inches

Dividing both sides of Eq. (1) by 2t and substituting D/t by DR yields:

S = P/2 (DR – 1) (2)

The design value for the long-term strength of a thermoplastic is known as its Hydrostatic
Design Basis (HDB). Using Figure 1 and ASTM D2837 yields an HDB for PVC of 4,000 psi.


Innate to any design standard is the safety factor employed. In the case of PVC pressure pipe,
that safety factor (SF) has traditionally been either 2.0 or 2.5 in North America. The allowable
stress, S a , is the maximum stress to which a pipe is exposed when pressurized to it full pressure
capacity. Table 1 shows S a values that result using these two safety factors.

Table 1: Allowable Stresses Used in North America for PVC

Safety Factor Allowable Stress, S a (psi)

2.0 2,000
2.5 1,600

Allowable Stress, S a , is calculated using:

S a = HDB / SF (3)

Table 2 provides an overview of the safety factors and design stresses employed in North
America’s most popular buried PVC pressure pipe standards; AWWA C900, AWWA C905, and
ASTM D2241 (ASTM Intl. 2000).

Table 2: Safety Factors and Allowable Stresses by Standard

Standard Safety Factor S a (psi)

ASTM D2241 2.0 2,000
AWWA C900 (Pre-2007 Edition) 2.5 1,600
AWWA C900 (2007 Edition) 2.0 2,000
AWWA C905 2.0 2,000

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

In AWWA C900-07, the safety factor was changed from 2.5 to 2.0 and marks one of the major
alterations to the standard.


Besides changing the safety factor, AWWA C900-07 eliminated the built-in surge allowance.
The built-in surge allowance is the surge that results when the velocity of the water being
transported is suddenly changed by 2 fps. Table 3 lists the built-in surge allowance for the three
DRs that were available in the pre-2007 version of AWWA C900.

Table 3: Surge Pressure in Response to a 2 fps Instantaneous Change in Velocity

Dimension Ratio Surge Response (psi)

25 30
18 35
14 40

Before 2007, these two key differences in safety factors and surge allowances were
communicated to the design community by the term used for the allowable pressure. If the
allowable pressure was designated by a Pressure Class (PC), it indicated the use of a 2.5 safety
factor and the inclusion of a built-in surge allowance. If the term was Pressure Rating (PR), a
safety factor of 2.0 was used and no surge allowance was built-in to the allowable pressure.
These differences in the design approach resulted in significant differences between the PC and
the PR. Table 4 lists these values for DR25, DR18, and DR14.

Table 4: PC and PR Prior to the 2007 Edition of AWWA C900

Dimension Ratio (DR) PC (psi) PR (psi)

25 100 165
18 150 235
14 200 305

Tables 5 and 6 demonstrate that these two distinct design approaches limit the hoop stress the
pipe experiences to below 2,000 psi or 1,600 psi, depending on the standard. Equation 2
calculates the hoop stress produced when the pipe is pressurized to its PR (Table 5) or its PC
while using its entire surge allowance (Table 6).

Table 5: Hoop Stress Generated When Pipe Pressurized to PR in Table 4.

Dimension Ratio (DR) Pressure Applied (psi) Resulting Hoop Stress (psi)
25 165 1,980
18 235 1,998
14 305 1,993

As Table 4 shows, the hoop stresses are just below the 2,000 psi allowable stress, so the safety
factor of 2.0 has been maintained. The minor deviations are the result of rounding down to the

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

PR to the nearest multiple of 5. In Table 6, to find the maximum allowable pressure, one
assumes that a surge equal to the surge allowance occurs while operating at the PC.

Table 6: Hoop Stresses When Pipe Subjected to Its PC and Built-In Surge Allowance

DR25 DR18 DR14

Pressure from Operating at PC (psi) 100 150 200
Add a Surge Equal to the Built-In Allowance (psi) 30 35 40
Total Pressure Applied (psi) 130 185 240
Hoop Stress (psi) 1,560 1,573 1,560

Again, the hoop stresses are just below the 1,600 psi allowable due to rounding down the PC to
the nearest multiple of five. In every case, the 2.5 safety factor has been maintained.


The SRL can be used to examine the impact the two allowable stresses have on the hydrostatic
life of the PVC pressure pipe. A quick overview of the generation of the SRL will provide the
background for understanding the relationship between hoop stress and hydrostatic life.

The green dots in Figure 1 represent stress-rupture points. When these stress-rupture points are
plotted on a log-log graph, it approximates a straight line. The SRL is the best fitting line
through the stress-rupture points and is found through linear regression. In Figure 3, two of the
stress-rupture points have been circled and labeled A and B. The data for stress-rupture point A
was determined by pressurizing the specimen to produce a hoop stress of 6,000 psi. For DR25
pipe, this requires an internal pressure of 500 psi. Next, the time-to-rupture is measured and was
found to be 24 hours. Figure 3 shows the plotting of point A in purple. A lower stress was
applied to specimen B, 5,000 psi. For a DR25 pipe, this results with 417 psi of internal pressure.
The time-to-rupture was found to be 5,431 hours. The plotting of point B is shown in red in
Figure 3.

Figure 3: Developing the Stress Regression Line

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

Now, the SRL may be extrapolated to predict the hydrostatic life of PVC pressure pipe when
subjected to lower hoop stresses, Figure 4. For an S a of 1,600 psi, the SRL predicts a hydrostatic
life of 1.4 x 1016 hours or just over a trillion years. This is graphed in red in Figure 4. For an S a
of 2,000 psi, the SRL predicts a hydrostatic life of 4.4 x 1014 hours or 5 billion years. The SRL
demonstrates that by dividing the HDB by a safety factor of 2.0 or 2.5 eliminates creep rupture
as a design limiting concern.

Figure 4: Hydrostatic Life When Operating at Allowable Stress


Another new item in PVC pressure pipe standards in North America is to take advantage of its
ability to handle greater pressures as the durations decrease. This was first incorporated in the
design of AWWA C905 transmission pipe and was addressed in the second edition of AWWA
M23, PVC Pipe - Design and Installation (AWWA 2002). A safety factor of 2.5 was applied to
the quick-burst strength. Table 7 lists the quick-burst strengths and Short-Term Ratings (STRs)
of DR25, DR18, and DR14. The STR is calculated by dividing the quick-burst strength by 2.5.

Table 7: Quick-Burst Strength and STR for pre-2007 AWWA C900

Quick-Burst Strength Short-Term Rating (STR) per M23 (2002)
(psi) (psi)
25 535 215
18 755 300
14 985 395

The quick-burst test is a 60 to 70 second test. It requires that the pressure at which the pipe
bursts exceed the quick-burst strength. The quick-burst strength is based on a 6,400 psi hoop

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

A surge pressure of short duration would have to exceed the pipe’s quick-burst strength - not its
HDB - in order to fail the pipe. The durations of transient surges are measured in the fraction of
a second, thus, the 60 to 70 second quick-burst strength is an overly conservative measure of
PVC’s ability to handle sudden surges.

The STR concept was added to the 2007 version of AWWA C900. In this case, however, a
safety factor of 2.0 was applied against the quick-burst strength in order to determine the STR.
The STR is used as the allowable pressure that the system may surge to as a result of an unusual
event like a power outage or sudden valve closure. The standard defines these situations as:
Occasional (emergency or transient) surge pressure (P OS ): Surge pressures caused by
emergency operations, usually the result of a malfunction (such as power failure, sudden valve
closure, or system component failure). The STR values permitted by AWWA C900-07 are
shown in Table 8.

Table 8, Quick-Burst Strength and STR for AWWA C900-07

Quick-Burst Strength Short-Term Rating (STR) per AWWA C900-07
(psi) (psi)
25 535 264
18 755 376
14 985 488

The log-log nature of the SRL results in extremely long hydrostatic life even when the specimens
are subjected to the STR, Figure 5.

Figure 5: Hydrostatic Life When Operating at the Short-Term Rating

If the pipe continuously operated at these elevated pressures, its predicted life is in excess of 100
years. These STRs, though, were calculated from the quick-burst strength of newly
manufactured product. Over a quarter of a century ago, an investigator looked into the topic of
the quick-burst strength of PVC pressure pipe that has been in service for months or years
(Hucks 1981), figure 6.

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

Figure 6: Quick-Burst Strength of PVC Pipe After Long-Term Hydrostatic Pressure

The red line in Figure 6 denotes that the specimens were subjected to a hoop stress of 4,000 psi
for thousands of hours. To generate that stress, a DR25 product would need to be pressurized to
330 psi. The green arrows pointing up and away from the red line shows when that specimen
was taken off hydrostatic testing and it was subjected to quick-burst testing. The green squares
plot the stress the specimen was at when it burst. Of most interest is the last specimen tested and
circled in purple and labeled point C. That specimen had been under constant pressure for
87,867 hours. It was drawing near the SRL and the end of its hydrostatic life. Creep rupture of
the specimen is expected to occur when the hoop stress intersects the SRL. Even though the
majority of its hydrostatic life had been exhausted, the quick-burst strength was larger than that
of new pipe, 10,178 psi. Hucks’ testing demonstrates the conservatism of the approach for short-
term strength that the AWWA PVC Committee adopted.


The final area of design that changed in AWWA C900-07 is the manner in which fatigue is
addressed. Fatigue has been elevated to a separate design check in applications where it can be a
problem, such as turf irrigation or force main systems. These are applications that experience
frequent and severe pressure surges. Where fatigue needs to be checked, the engineer is given
the latest design guidance from Utah State University (USU) on the cyclic capabilities of PVC in
Appendix B of the AWWA C900-07 standard. The design chart featured in Appendix B is
reproduced in Figure 7.

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE

Stress Amplitude (psi)









2500 USU
Positive/Negative Line
Mean Stress (psi)




2000 psi Limit

1.E+3 1.E+4 1.E+5 1.E+6 1.E+7 1.E+8 1.E+9

Number of Cycles

Figure 7: Design Chart for the Fatigue Strength of PVC

Figure 7 is a semi-log chart. The x-axis has a logarithmic scale. One of the two independent
variables, average stress, serves as the chart’s y-axis. The second independent variable, stress
amplitude, is represented by the black diagonal lines that overlay the chart. Each line represents
unique stress amplitudes. Stress amplitudes represented by the black lines decrease from left to
right across the chart. The x-axis is the dependent variable, and it denotes the cyclic life (C) of
the PVC pressure pipe.


With a goal to harmonize existing PVC pressure pipe standards and also to improve the design
approach in order to more accurately reflect the material’s capabilities and to allow greater
precision when comparing AWWA C900 to other thermoplastic pressure pipe standards, the
American Water Works Association’s Board of Directors approved the latest upgrade of AWWA
C900 in June 2007, which went into effect on Sept. 1, 2007. The changes made in the latest
version of the standard will remove the often confusing differences in design of the Pressure
Class method versus the Pressure Rated method. The new AWWA C900-07 standard has a
Safety Factor of 2.0, no longer includes a built-in surge allowance, incorporates Short Term
Strength in design, and also provides guidance on the calculation of cyclic life of PVC pipe. The
changes were substantiated by the long and favorable performance history of PVC pressure pipes
for potable water distribution and transmission as well as sewer force main applications in North
America, along with recommendations made by the AwwaRF Report Long-Term Performance
Prediction for PVC Pipe.

Pipelines 2008 © 2008 ASCE


American Water Works Association (1997), C900-97: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pressure Pipe,
and Fabricated Fittings, 4 In.-12 In. (100 mm-300 mm), for Water Dist., Denver, CO.

American Water Works Association (1997a), C905-97: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pressure Pipe,
and Fabricated Fittings, 14 In.-48 In. (350 mm-1200 mm), for Water Transmission and
Distribution, Denver, CO.

American Water Works Association (2002), Manual of Water Supply Practice M23: PVC Pipe -
Design and Installation, Denver, CO.

American Water Works Association (2007), C900-07: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Pressure Pipe,
and Fabricated Fittings, 4 In.-12 In. (100 mm-300 mm), for Water Transmission and
Distribution, Denver, CO.

American Water Works Association Research Foundation (2007), AwwaRF Report 91092f:
Long-Term Performance Prediction for PVC Pipes, Denver, CO.

ASTM International (2000), D 2241-00: Standard Specification for Poly(Vinyl Chloride) (PVC)
Pressure-Rated Pipe (SDR Series), W. Conshoken, PA.

ASTM International (2000a), D 2837-00: Standard Test Method for Obtaining Hydrostatic
Design Basis for Thermoplastic Pipe Materials, W. Conshoken, PA.

Hucks, Robert T. (1981), Changes in Strength of Pressurized PVC Pipe With Time, Journal
AWWA, July 1981, pp. 384-386.