Use of compressed air or gas in PVC/CPVC pipe and fittings can cause explosive failures resulting in system damage, severe bodily injury, or death.


Hydrostatic pressure testing (testing with water filled lines) is the only test method recommended and approved for pressure testing GF Harvel PVC and CPVC piping products. During pressure testing appropriate safety precautions must be taken to protect personnel and property from damage should a failure occur. The test pressure and duration of the pressure test performed should meet requirements of any local, state, or federal regulations as applicable. In the absence of any such requirements or regulations the following procedures can be used to properly conduct a hydrostatic pressure test on newly installed PVC and CPVC piping systems.

  • Strict adherence to proper solvent cementing instructions and set and cure times is essential to ensure the highest system integrity prior to pressure testing. Particular attention should be paid to pipe sizes, temperature at time of installation and any temperature variations over the set and cure period.

  • All solvent-cemented connections in the system must be fully cured properly prior to filling the system with water.

  • Pipe must be adequately anchored/restrained to prevent movement during testing.

  • The system should not be tested until authorized and subsequently witnessed by the responsible engineer.

  • Extreme care shall be used to ensure complete venting of all entrapped air when filling the system with water. Entrapped air is a major cause of excessive surge pressures that result in burst failures of rigid plastic piping systems.

  • Air must be removed from the system to prevent it from being locked in the system when pressure is applied.

  • The system should include the use of air release and air/vacuum relief valves located at high points in the system to vent air during filling, as well as during normal operation of the system.

  • The system must be filled slowly with water, venting air from valves at piping run ends and at elevations during the filling process. Whether a hydraulic hand pump or available water line pressure is used, any slow build-up of gauge pressure or any rapidly fluctuating gauge needle on a completely liquid filled system is a strong indication that entrapped air is present within the system. Should this occur, pressure should be immediately released and the line re-bled. Failure to do so can lead to a catastrophic failure when the water column is suddenly accelerated by the rapidly decompressing air should a faulty joint separate or other failure occur.

  • A maximum test pressure of 150% of the maximum stated system design operating pressure is considered satisfactory. The test pressure selected must not exceed the working pressure rating of the lowest pressure rated component in the system (i.e. threaded components, flanges, unions, valves etc.). Reduced test pressures must be used for any elevated temperature testing due to field conditions affecting temperatures. Appropriate temperature de-rating factors must be applied to determine a suitable test pressure at elevated temperatures (>73°F).

  • A test period of two (2) hours is usually considered satisfactory to demonstrate the integrity of the system.

  • If a leak is found the pressure must be relieved, the failed section cut-out, replaced, and allowed to cure properly prior to recharging and retesting the system.

GF Harvel recommends that large and/or complex systems be tested in segments as they are installed to permit evaluation and correction of improper installation techniques or other deficiencies as the project progresses. In buried applications the system should be hydrostatically tested prior to backfilling operations. During testing of buried lines, fittings and joints should be left exposed to aid in visual inspection for leakage. Sufficient earth cover should be placed over the pipe sections located between the fittings/joints to help prevent movement during testing. Any concrete anchors and/or thrust blocks must be allowed to cure completely prior to pressure testing.

Caution: Compressed air or gases must never be used for testing of rigid PVC and CPVC piping systems (refer to Caution Areas section for additional information). Improper installation, especially poor workmanship in solvent cementing techniques, can lead to an abrupt release of tremendous stored energy in the presence of compressed air or gas. This abrupt release of energy creates a “whipping action” of the piping where shattering of pipe and fittings is then apt to occur at directional changes and at points where the system is rigidly restrained. This scenario creates a substantial safety hazard to personnel. In addition, secondary hairline stress fractures caused by this effect can also be initiated which will tend to propagate over time resulting in additional failures. It is also known that certain additives present in air compressor lubricants are not chemically compatible with PVC/CPVC materials and will initiate stress cracking of the plastic, further increasing the potential for additional failures.