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PP-R piping installation

As steel prices rise, PP-R piping sees itself as stable alternative

April 19, 2018
Polypropylene-random pipe is not subject to the Trump administration's tariffs and its price has remained remarkably stable and predictable over the years.

LINDON, UTAH — On March 8, President Donald Trump signed an order imposing a 25% tariff on foreign steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum. The move raised concerns of an adverse effect on steel and aluminum prices.

The American Institute of Architects issued a statement that said, “The administration’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports threatens to drastically increase the prices of many building materials specified by architects.” The Associated General Contractors of America warned that the tariffs “could wreck the budgets for numerous infrastructure projects and private nonresidential investments.”

Given the turmoil the tariffs are likely to cause in the steel market, and the resulting concerns about what are almost certainly going to be unstable and rising prices for steel pipe, Aquatherm’s polypropylene-random pipe stands as a strong option for large-diameter mechanical piping systems. 

PP-R pipe is not subject to the tariffs and its price has remained remarkably stable and predictable over the years. Engineers planning mechanical systems, and contractors bidding on them, can rely on it to remain a consistently priced piping system.

Aquatherm’s PP-R systems have had only one moderate price increase of 5 percent from 2008-2017, and the cost of many of the company’s items has actually decreased. For example, in January 2017 Aquatherm Blue Pipe SDR 11 averaged a 12 percent reduction across all diameters and a 23 percent drop for 4-in. and larger diameters, and SDR 17.6 averaged a 16 percent reduction across all diameters.

By contrast, the metal piping market has fluctuated dramatically over that same time span, and in all likelihood, is going to remain volatile because of the tariffs.

PP-R’s predictable total installed cost is a primary benefit versus steel. Heat fusion can be much quicker than welding or soldering and requires no hot work permit or fire watch. Considerable labor and total installed cost savings are achievable, and Aquatherm offers custom design and fabrication services that can provide additional savings.

Other benefits include much lighter weight (on average about 70 percent less weight than carbon steel), a much longer life span of more than 60 years and virtually leak-free heat-fused connections that do not require any open flame or welding or release any volatile organic compounds. PP-R pipe does not scale or corrode and is fully recyclable. In fact, it directly contributes to LEEDv4 credits.

PP-R pipe is extremely versatile and excels in a wide variety of PHVAC and industrial applications, and possesses widespread code approvals. Aquatherm systems come in diameters ranging from 1/2 in. to 24 in. and some products are designed to handle up to 180° F fluids at 100 psi.

In an ever-changing business climate where metal piping system prices rise and fall, Aquatherm is helping contractors, designers, facility managers and building owners keep their competitive edge while offering an alternative piping system.