Vinyl tubing: practical, versatile and affordable

Whether you’re connecting a new dishwasher or fixing a drain hose, you’ll want to know what type of tubing you'll need to get the job done. Learning about the benefits and uses of vinyl tubing will help you to understand if it’s the right fit for your DIY plumbing project. [Photo credit: istock.com/BernardaSv]

Vinyl tubing: practical, versatile and affordable

Common uses

Flexible vinyl tubing is a versatile material that transports a range of substances including chemicals, gasses, liquids and some solids. Common household applications are washing machines, dishwashers, drainage lines and aquariums.

Good to know!

Always make sure the vinyl tubing you select is suitable for the type of application. For example, the tubing may or may not be food-grade compliant, and some tubing is not recommended for use with ice-makers.

Vinyl variations

The two common types of flexible vinyl tubing you’ll come across are:
Clear Vinyl

  • For low-pressure applications with low volumes.
  • For use with chemicals, gasses and liquids.
  • Allows you to easily monitor flow and see clogs.
  • Uses include washing machines, dishwasher inlets, beverage dispensers, drain hoses, spas, bathtub jets.

Black Vinyl

  • For supply and drainage applications.
  • Uses include aquariums, water gardens, backyard ponds, air-conditioner drain lines.
  • Inhibits the growth of algae and resists clogs, ultraviolet light and ozone.

 
 
Good to know!
While vinyl tubing is typically clear, it’s also available in a variety of colours such as black, blue and green to blend into the background.

Vinyl and PVC

When it comes to buying tubing, the terms vinyl and PVC are often used interchangeably.

  • Vinyl is a general term that refers to different ethylene-based compounds while polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a specific type of vinyl.
  • Vinyl can be flexible or rigid, thin or thick and weather-, heat- or impact-resistant.
  • PVC is often used in its rigid form for pipes in cold-water applications due to its durability and affordability.

Good to know!
When you purchase flexible tubing, check out both vinyl and PVC. Look at the specific characteristics of each (size, ratings, recommended uses) to select the best material for your project. For extra help, ask an expert at your local home improvement store.

Pros and cons

When starting a project, it’s helpful to know the advantages and disadvantages of different materials.
Benefits of flexible vinyl tubing

  • Suitable for a wide range of uses including chemicals, gasses, liquids and some solids.
  • Does not rust or corrode.
  • Odourless, tasteless and non-toxic.
  • Lightweight and easy to work with.
  • Naturally resistant to fire and combustion.
  • Its smooth interior and exterior prevent the buildup of sediment.
  • It’s one of the most affordable plumbing materials.

 
Possible downsides

  • It can only handle a limited amount of pressure.
  • Thinner versions are prone to kinking.

 
Good to know!

Consider braided/reinforced tubing for better durability and use at higher pressures.

Sizing and use

Along with the type and function, other important details to consider when choosing vinyl tubing are:

  • Length. Tubing is available in short lengths for smaller projects and in long rolls. Common sizes are 0.6 m (2 ft.), 3 m (10 ft.), 7.6 m (25 ft.), 15.2 m (50 ft.) and 30 m (100 ft.).
  • Diameter. Vinyl tubing has an inside diameter (ID), outside diameter (OD) and wall thickness.
  • Pressure rating (PSI). It varies and generally means how much pressure the tube can withstand.
  • Temperature range. This is especially important with hot-water applications.

Once you know exactly what size you need, working with flexible vinyl tubing is quite simple.

  • Its flexibility makes it easy to shape and manoeuvre.
  • It’s easy to trim and cut to size.
  • It easily connects using a variety of barbs, clamps and fittings.

Vinyl tubing checklist

When you go to purchase vinyl tubing, consider the following:

  • What type of application do you need it for?
  • Does it meet any of the required industry standards for this type of application?
  • What length and diameter of tubing do you need?
  • Do you have the tools and connectors you need: tubing cutters, fittings, clamps?

Understanding the uses for flexible vinyl tubing in household plumbing will help you plan and carry out a successful DIY project. Now that you know the different characteristics of vinyl, you’re ready to repair your washing machine line or add a colourful new aquarium to your living space.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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