The decades-old HDPE tubing is known for its versatility. This durable and flexible tubing option has been the worldwide choice for nearly all liquids and gasses for years. The high-density polyethylene this tubing is made from prevents corrosion, makes it impact resistant, and gives it high tensile strength, keeping our environment and community safe. These qualities make HDPE tubing versatile, being used in industries like wastewater removal, water systems, oil and gas collection and movement, and many others.

Understanding HDPE Tubing

Like many plastics, high-density polyethylene tubing is made from a common plastic polymer called polyethylene. What makes high-density polyethylene tubing different, and where HDPE gets its name, is the high-density design of polyethylene. The molecules that makeup HDPE are packed tightly together in chains, making the plastic flexible and durable.

Advantages of HDPE Tubing

high-density polyethylene tubing has many advantages because of its strength, durability, and stability, while still having many of the same properties as plastic.

Lightweight

Metal and concrete tubing options are heavy and rigid, limiting their abilities. High-density polyethylene tubing is lightweight, yet durable. Being lightweight means transportation and installation are easier and less expensive, thanks to the time and resources being saved.

Corrosion Resistant

HDPE tubing is extremely durable against issues other plastic piping materials are susceptible to. Having the property of being corrosion resistant, this type of tubing is ideal for chemical transportation, and other situations or environments in which corrosion is a possibility.

Flexible, but Resistant

Since high-density polyethylene tubing is made of strong plastic material, it is much more flexible than concrete alternatives. This means that if environmental conditions get severe, such as extremely low temperatures, HDPE tubing can hold up against water freezing and unfreezing repeatedly. The structural durability of this tubing also allows it to withstand precipitation, chemicals, acids, and detergents that can be found in soil and other natural environments.

Recyclable

As a recyclable plastic, high-density polyethylene tubing is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective tubing option.

Applications of HDPE Tubing

Since high-density polyethylene tubing has so many useful properties, it comes as no surprise that it is used in a wide variety of industries.

Agriculture

high-density polyethylene tubing is a great choice for farms, gardens, and other outdoor settings. This durable tubing can withstand acidic soil and the elements, making it a great choice for irrigation, flood irrigation, sprinklers, drip irrigation, and intake and delivery piping.

Sewage

The chemicals and gasses that come along with sewage transportation have no effect on HDPE tubing, making it a great solution for any waste or sewage transportation need.

Electric

Since HDPE tubing is so durable and resistant to the elements, many choose to use it as a protective system for electrical cables, fiber optic cables, and other electrical conduits.

Drainage

Being able to withstand freezing temperatures as well as the corrosive substances found in soil and other environments makes HDPE tubing ideal for water drainage of any kind.

Gas Distribution

The HDPE tubing system is resistant to harsh gasses and conditions, as well as leak-free, meaning it safely transports gas without risk of leaking.

Types of HDPE Tubing on the Market

HDPE tubing can be found in many different sizes, lengths, and grades. Ranging from 20mm to 630mm in diameter, and nearly any length possible, you can find any size of HDPE tubing you may need. The material from which it is made out of is used to group the types of HDPE pipe. Different grades of polyethylene are made into HDPE tubing, the most common being PE 63, PE 80, and PE 100, with PE 63 being the medium-pressure system, PE 80 being the natural gas and drinking water piping system, and PE 100 being the high demand piping system.

Choosing the Right HDPE Tubing

There are many factors to consider when deciding which type of tubing is right for you. Making sure your HDPE tubing choice is successful for your specific needs is necessary for the safety and efficiency of your tubing system.

Operating temperature and pressure are important to consider because there are different classes of HDPE tubing that are used depending on what pressure is being applied to the tubing internally and externally.

Chemical compatibility is also a consideration. You don’t want any harmful chemicals to leak out of your tubing system, and you don’t want any harmful chemicals to get into your tubing system. Selecting the right tubing option that is able to withstand the chemicals in and around your system is important.

UV resistance is an important consideration if your HDPE tubing is going to be exposed to the sun frequently. Breakdown from UV exposure can happen to many materials, so making sure that your tubing choice will not succumb to the harsh nature of the sun is important to the success of your system.

Flexibility and durability are dependent on what project you are working on. Durability is important for many jobs, but for certain situations, flexibility is an ideal trait to have in HDPE piping.

Sizing your HDPE tubing is needed before ordering. If you know how large or how small you need the diameter and length of your tubing to be, the perfect size and shape can be constructed for you.

Different grades of piping are used for different applications. PE 63 tubing is generally used for your medium-pressure system tubing needs. PE 80 grade tubing is used for gas pipes that are used to transport and distribute natural gas, as well as moving drinking water from its source to the consumer. PE 100 piping is used for high-demand, high-stress tubing needs. It is also important to consider if you need to use NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified piping, which is generally used in commercial or residential tubing, piping, or plumbing needs.

Installation and Handling of HDPE Tubing

There are many different types of installation for HDPE tubing systems. Some of the more common types include pipe bursting, horizontal directional drilling, micro-trenching, plow, direct burial, and slip lining.  But before you can install, there are a few steps.

Evaluating the Work Site

Take into account the condition of the site, what the area the pipe will be installed looks like, and where you will be installing the tubing. Make sure you know how deep the tubing will be installed, if the soil can support the tubing installation, and that the tubing will fit.

Tools Needed

In order to install the HDPE tubing, you will need a few specific tools.  A rig is needed to make large holes in the ground or to displace soil so the HDPE tooling can be fed into it. Depending on the type of installation you are doing, you will need more specific tooling but for basic installation, you will need more broad tooling such as a type of saw for cutting the tubing, a heating plate for fusion welding, an electrofusion processor for electrofusion, or compression fittings for attaching the tubing to valves, anchors to mechanically attach the tubing to provide support, and some kind of insulation to protect the tubing or prevent heat loss

The Steps of Installation

Each step of the HDPE installation process requires attention and precaution. To start, you will need to measure your tubing and cut it to the correct length. This can be done with either a hand saw or a power saw after you measure and mark the tubing at the right length.

The tubing then needs to be fit together, using welding methods or physical anchors. Fusion welding uses a heating plate to melt and join the ends of the piping together while electrofusion uses an electrofusion processor to fit HDPE tubing that is implanted with metal coils or wires. The electrofusion processor applies voltage to the tubing, heating the metal and melting the inside of the tubing, fusing them together. You can also use compression fittings to mechanically connect HDPE pipes to a valve or other fixture, such as an irrigation or plumbing system.

After you make sure the HDPE tubing is properly joined, anchors are used to physically attach the tubing to another object in order to provide support to the tubing system. Then you install the insulation, either for the protection of the tubing or to prevent the escaping of heat from whatever substance is traveling through the tubing.  Then your tubing system is ready to be installed into the ground, using a rig to guide the tubing.

Safety Precautions

The safety of HDPE tubing installers is extremely important. There are a few safety precautions that should always be followed. Pre-job safety reviews should always be completed, ensuring your installers know what the worksite looks like. Permits and checklists should be completed prior to installation. Make sure your equipment is able to perform the task, and that they have the correct lifting or pulling capacity for whatever your tubing is. Keep a safe distance from the tubing at all times, or make sure accurate barriers are in place. For those directly handling the tubing, making sure it is in control at all times is crucial for everyone’s safety. As always, make sure installers are trained properly for the tasks they are performing and make sure all Standard Operating Procedures are followed.

Maintenance and Care for HDPE Tubing

Continual maintenance and inspections for HDPE tubing are important to keeping everyone safe, from those working to care for the tubing to those who are receiving gas or water from the tubing.

Inspections

HDPE tubing goes through many different inspection points, many of which depend on what kind of HDPE tubing is installed and what organization is performing the inspection. The most important things to test are the weight of carbon in the polyethylene, density, flexibility and pressure, internal pressure tolerance, physical properties of the tubing, strength of the tubing, thermal stability, viscosity, and hydrostatic pressure.

Cleaning

Cleaning HDPE tubing, especially in residential and commercial areas, is becoming a much more common maintenance procedure. Most of the time this is done through shock chlorination, which consists of flushing the tubing system with a chlorine solution. This manages to kill bacteria and remove biofilms, making the tubing safe and clean for water to pass through.

Repairs

Even though HDPE tubing is extremely durable, minor damage can occur. In these instances, it is best to repair the issue immediately. To do so, you should scuff up the tubing with sandpaper at the damaged area and then drill holes at each end of the damaged area to release pressure.  Clean the tubing and dry it so no contamination occurs. You can either use welding techniques or some sort of adhesion. In most instances, adhesions work very well in fixing damage to HDPE tubing and can be done fairly quickly.

Storage and Handling

When it comes to storing and handling your HDPE tubing prior to installation, it is important to keep it indoors and lying flat. Moving the tubing correctly, by preventing it from bending too much, and keeping it from any unintended bumping will keep your HDPE in good shape before installation. Protecting the tubing from UV, the elements, and any unnecessary bending prior to installation will ensure a longer life of the tubing.

Troubleshooting Common HDPE Tubing Issues

Leaks and Drips

Leaks and drips can occur in HDPE tubing for a variety of reasons. Freezing pipe damage, driving over piping when it is not buried correctly or not insulated properly, and pressure limits being exceeded are just a few of the most common causes. You can test for leaks by testing the pressure of the inside of the pipe.

Brittle or Cracked Tubing

Most failures in HDPE tubing are caused by slow cracking, which causes the tubing to become brittle. These are generally thin cracks that are smooth along the surface of the tubing. You can also test for this by reading the pressure inside of the tubing.

Blockages and Reduced Flow

Pipeline blockages in HDPE tubing do occur and can be very serious. Build up of material in the tubing can cause slow flow and built-up pressure. Pipe scanning is an efficient way to detect any blockages in tubing.

Chemical Corrosion

While HDPE tubing is generally corrosion-resistant and safe to use with many chemicals, there are still some out there that can cause damage to HDPE tubing systems.  Chemical corrosion can cause leaks and cracks in the tubing, and tubing should be tested for leaks and chemicals in the surrounding area.

Environmental Sustainability of HDPE Tubing

HDPE tubing is the most commonly used plastic tubing on the market. Luckily, it is also the easiest to recycle. Due to its strength, HDPE is wanted and used in many industries. It can be recycled and reused safely into bottles, pens, plastic lumber, picnic tables, toys, trash bins, and so much more. HDPE is also energy efficient, using a fraction of the energy other plastic and metal tubing require during manufacturing.

Work with Custom Profile for Your HDPE Tubing Needs

Custom Profile’s capabilities include the high-speed extrusion of Bimodal High-Density Polyethylene tubing that can be used as a replacement for cross-linked HDPE, concrete, and metal tubing.

Contact our team of specialists to get started today.