PVC Pipe Loading Specifications

Lynn Rademacher

PVC pipe is used in a variety of building and crafting applications. Homeowners use it as a conduit for electrical and coaxial cables. PVC pipe comes in several different sizes with different wall thicknesses.

PVC pipe comes in a variety of diameters and wall thickness.

The load bearing weight of different sizes of PVC pipe should be considered when selecting pipe for your project. There are four main PVC pipe loading specifications to consider when selecting PVC pipe.


The amount of deflection that a PVC pipe can handle is directly related to the amount of load the pipe is required to bear and the thickness of the pipe wall. If the load is too great the pipe will deflect the weight by becoming egg shaped. If the load is too much for the pipe to deflect it will eventually break. A thicker pipe wall will help the pipe to avoid deflection. Buried PVC pipe should have at least a ¼-inch pipe wall.


PVC is not designed to be bent. Placing pressure on a PVC pipe to bend will result in the PVC pipe either breaking in half completely or the wall of the pipe bending first and then breaking. The edges of the broken PVC can be very sharp and cause damage to any cables or wires that may be running through pipe. The pipe can be bent with the use of PVC joints but it is important to remember that each joint creates a week spot in the overall run of pipe.


PVC strength can be compromised by compression. This occurs when pressure is placed on the top of the PVC pipe. The thicker the wall of the PVC pipe the more resistant the pipe is to compression. Compression affects the PVC pipe more at the end of the pipe than in the middle of the pipe. The wall of the pipe in the middle is able to deflect compression pressure more effectively. If weight will be placed at the end of the pipe then it needs to be reinforced to avoid compression issues.


PVC is often used as a conduit for cables and electrical lines to be run through and then buried. While PVC is favored for this use because it can be sealed against water penetration it is important to remember that PVC cannot withstand a significant impact. PVC pipe that is subject to temperatures of more than 70 degrees Celsius will break upon impact. Care is required if working and digging around buried PVC pipe.