Due to having no money and abundance of devil-may-care, I am thinking
of using P.V.C. pipe to put in my shop for air supply. I am thinking
of using 1/2 inch due the the highest pressure rating compared to
Now, my thought is to buy some wire cloth - the stuff that has open
squares of ~ .5 inch and cut it where, when formed into a tube, it
would cover the p.v.c. pipe comfortably.
Should the pipe explode due to the air pressure, the wire-cloth should
stop large pieces from becoming killer pieces.
I expect the nay sayers to say: DON'T DO IT, YOU WILL BE KILLED. To
them I say: I don't expect to eliminate ALL CHANCES OF DEATH OR INJURY
BUT I DO EXPECT THE SHIELDING TO CALM MY FEARS RATHER THAN USING BARE
I have had PVC air line in my business for 12 years. Runs 125 psi all
day, 5 days a week. We have never had a break. Scared me to death, but
my late partner had it installed before I was part of the company.
Almost all the pipes lower than 20 ft are steel, however, and all I have
put in are steel.
The more immediate and lasting problem is sag in the horizontal PVC
distribution lines. Moisture collects there until there is a big release
of air further down the line and then liquid comes out the end. The PVC
could not be placed so there was a continuous slope downward.
We have filters and a refrigerated air dryer in the line and that is a
late addition. Most of the water vapor doesn't make it to the PVC, now.
If you can afford PVC Pipe and fittings, you can afford cheap imported
Black Iron (really steel) pipe - they sell a lot of it for natural gas
lines. Take the time to do it right, or don't bother and get lots of
They have the plastic coated rust resistant stuff too if you need to
bury an air feed between the garage and house - coat the fitting with
sealant, then wrap the fittings in the special tape and slather
another coat of sealant over the tape to keep the water out.
Do Not use Galvanized pipe, the zinc flakes off and gets into the
tools and valves.
And your 'Wrap chicken wire around the PVC " plan is doomed for
failure - there is a LOT of captive energy there...
Run the riser up to the rafters from the compressor and refrigerated
dryer or aftercooler, then when it changes to horizontal to head off
into the shop leave a slight downhill - maybe 1/4" per 10' to the far
end of the room - where you put an elbow and a drain leg down to a
drain valve you can reach. Drain it every few weeks - you'll be
shocked how much water coalesces out in the lines.
Do NOT buy lots of couplings - buy mostly Tees and Plugs, and put a
tee every length of pipe with the third hole POINTED UP to the roof -
when you realize you need a new drop there, you just pull the threaded
pipe plug out of the tee and go.
If you plan to wait 20 years and then add a new drop by cutting the
Black pipe and threading it for a new tee, FUHGEDDABOUDIT. You'll
either snap off an old fitting, or twist the old connections and
create a dozen leaks... And eventually between the hissing leaks and
compressor cycling every fifteen minutes it will drive you mad, and
you have to take The Whole Damn System Apart and start over.
The tap legs go UP from the main line for a few inches so if there is
any moisture in the air you leave it trapped in the main line - and
eventually it'll work it's way to that drain leg at the far end. Then
you go horizontal over to the wall, and drop down to your drop
Oh, and put another tee there with another butterfly drain valve on
the drip-leg, so if any water gets that far it's stopped again. Water
in your air is bad news.
If you have the money you use Copper pipe - but you build it the exact
same way with the drip legs everywhere, and up-legs to leave the water
behind. Except you can skip the tees, it's easy enough to cut in one
and solder or braze the tap tee as needed. (No threading in place.)
I use Silver Braze on Copper for Air (or refrigerant) - that way your
Plumber doesn't think it's a Water line he can tap into. Which can
I'd rather see you use PEX. It's similar to the polyethylene tubing
used for industrial controls, and the failure mode isn't nearly as
nasty as PVC. And you still get the satisfaction of doing something
that's not recommended.
Found in a google search for "pex compressed air:
"I sent an email to a company that supplies PEX (pexconnection.com)
here is what he said when I asked about using PEX for compressed air
in a hobby woodworking shop
" Air is routinely used for pressure testing PEX plumbing systems, and
we use it here to distribute the air for our air compressor, so I
would say that it should not be a problem for you to do that."
Then I asked about exposure to fluorescent lights in my shop. And his
"For best results, you will most likely need to cover it. PEX should
not be exposed to direct UV light for more than 30 days. I will say,
however, that the PEX we are using (for water and air) is exposed to
direct fluorescent light and indirect sunlight and is performing well.
Still, the recommendation is that it not be exposed to UV light."
NorthernTool is selling a "RapidAir" air distribution set with 1/2"
nylon lines and push-to-connect fittings for well below the "list" price...
it actually looks like it's priced cheap for what you get; but a person
could piece together their own set-up, too.
There must be a cheaper knock-off from HF also, according to RapidAir's
website "Please be aware that Harbor Freight has copied the Rapidair system.
This is not our product in their stores. We have had numerous phone calls
about the poor quality of this system."
PEX is their way of trademarking XLPE - Crosslinked Polyethylene,
perhaps with a Nylon scuff layer on the outside. They are using it
for the chassis air brake hoses on new heavy trucks, so they've got to
be fairly confident in it's reliability...
But that truck stuff is also colored different so it has a little UV
resistance - I wouldn't just toss up plumbing grade PEX pipe.