The Residential Drainage System: Steel Or FRP?

In recent years, fiber-reinforced plastic has gained immense popularity as an alternative construction material. The increasing popularity often sparks the curiosity of many prospective new homeowners.

You might have thought of choosing FRP for your residential drainage system instead of the conventional drainage pipes made of steel. Before you make up your mind, here is a comparison of the two materials.

The Question Of Leakages

Leakage is perhaps the first problem that comes to mind when thinking of residential drainage systems. The material used for drainage pipes can make the system more vulnerable to leakages, or it can reduce this vulnerability.

Leakages occur for various reasons. One of these is the expansion and contraction of drainage pipes as a result of fluctuating temperatures. Thermal expansion is more of a problem with fiber-reinforced plastic than it is with steel. This is for the simple reason that steel is more heat-resistant than plastic. FRP pipes in your drainage system are likely to expand and contract more than steel pipes, and this makes your drainage system more vulnerable to the possibility of leakages.

The Question Of Corrosion

Corrosion is also often a big concern for homeowners intent on making the best choice of material for their drainage pipes. Suppliers of FRP drainage pipes often market their product aggressively on the premise that plastics do not corrode and rust when exposed to water and/or air.

It is indeed true that corrosion is a problem specific to metals. It's also true that it's a more serious problem in situations where metals are constantly exposed to and in contact with water.

Manufacturers of steel drainage pipes understand this well, and that's why these pipes are subjected to a treatment procedure known as galvanisation before they hit the market. Galvanization is a process through which steel drainage pipes are coated with a protective layer of zinc. The protective layer acts a physical barrier that prevents direct contact between the steel surface of the pipe and the water running through the drain. Corrosion should only be a problem if you intend on using untreated/raw steel pipes on your drainage system.

The Question Of Flammability

How much of a fire hazard is your preferred drainage pipe material? This is one question you need to answer before you settle for that material.

Plastics are highly flammable. In the unfortunate event of fire, FRP pipes in your drainage system would burn up and encourage the spread of the fire. Steel drainage pipes are less of a fire hazard thanks to the extremely high temperatures needed for its combustion. They're unlikely to burn and spread the fire in the event of an outbreak.