In-line pressure regulators are a convenient accessory for tools that require less pressure than the compressor provides.
In-line pressure regulators are a convenient accessory for tools that require less pressure than the compressor provides.

Piping compressed air around a shop has a lot of advantages. But if you're not clear about the limitations of the piping materials available, the result can lead to a dangerous failure.

Answering a reader's question in sister publication, JLC, contractor Greg Burnet, offers a run-down of the various materials you can use for a shop's compressed air system. Metal piping - namely copper and stainless steel - are the gold standards for durable, safe systems. But other options can work well, too. Galvanized steel and PEX are two that get a Burnet thumbs up.

One option, PVC, gets only a guarded nod, however. While often touted as an affordable option, PVC has very serious limitations. Even if you specify the correct grade (schedule 80 or better) the fine oil used in a compressor can degrade PVC over time to catastrophic effect. And UV light, while typically not an issue in a shop can also degrade the plastic.    Read more.