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Can You Drive Over Buried Pvc Pipes? (Quick Answers)

Burying PVC pipes underneath the ground is a very common custom in construction. However, to many of you perhaps it’s not so obvious whether it would be a safe thing to drive over these buried pipes or not. 

Therefore, it may concern you with the thought that can you drive over buried PVC pipes or not. So, let’s go through the answers and get a detailed insight into this topic here. 

Can You Drive Over A Buried PVC Pipe?

Only if the PVC pipe is buried at the ideal depth which is 12 inches in the ground and is surrounded by the ideal type of soil, it’s acceptable to drive over a buried PVC pipe. Remember that, the soil must be consolidated to mitigate the pressure that the PVC pipe is being asked for carrying.

As there are different types and different schedules of PVC pipes, below are brief explanations over buried and sewer PVC pipes, and schedule 20,40, and 80 PVC pipes are included so that you can know whether or not you can drive over these PVC pipes.

Buried PVC Pipe:

Driving your vehicle over buried PVC pipe is allowed if you have buried the pipe at least 12” below the surface of the ground and the soil is well-arranged and packed. 

Also, new PVC pipes with sufficient plasticizers increase the possibility to drive over buried PVC pipes more.

Sewer OR Drain PVC Pipe:

You can drive over sewer or drain PVC pipe as well if a sewer or drain PVC pipe of 4-through 48” diameter is buried 1 foot deeper in the ground.

Schedule 20 PVC Pipe:

It’s somewhat acceptable to drive over schedule 20 PVC pipes as long as the pipe is buried 12-24” deep in the ground. And it’s surrounded by soil with gravel or stone to offset the pressure directly over the pipe.

Schedule 40 PVC Pipes:

Schedule40 PVC pipe is thicker than schedule 20 PVC pipes, thereby they can hold more pressure created by a vehicle. So you can drive over a scheduled 40 PVC pipe but make sure it’s buried at least 12” deep in the ground.

Schedule 80 PVC Pipe:

It’s safe to drive over a schedule 80 PVC pipe because it is thicker than the schedule 40 pipes and is mainly used as sewage or drain pipe. 

Due to the high viscosity of these pipes, as long as they are buried in the right type of soil at a 12-24” depth and aren’t too old, schedule 80 PVC pipes can hold pressure and abuse of a vehicle over them.

How Deep Does The PVC Pipe Need To Be Buried To Drive Over?

The PVC pipes need to be buried at least 12 inches below the ground’s surface to drive a vehicle over them, and this measurement of depth is calculated from the uppermost side of the PVC pipes to the soil’s surface. 

This means, the pit you are going to dig to push pipes through it, it has to be a little deeper to fit the pipes. However, know that it’s better to bury the PVC pipes 24 inches deeper in the ground.

How Much Pressure Can A PVC Pipe Hold?

Any smaller-sized PVC pipes can hold pressure as much as 300-600 PSI. And the most commonly used PVC pipes of 1” schedule 40 can hold 450 PSI as these pipes have a pipe wall of 0.133”.

And the thickest PVC pipes which are 1” schedule 80 can hold pressure as much as 630 PSI and these pipes have a minimum wall of 0.179” pipe wall.

5 Factors That Determines If You Can Drive Over Buried PVC Pipe Or Not

Whether it would be a safe activity for you to drive over the buried PVC pipe in your lawn or somewhere else hinges on 5 factors. Therefore, look deeper into these 5 different factors that are pointed out and explained in this section.

The Depth At What The PVC Pipe Is Buried:

The profundity of the PVC pipe burial affects the fact that how successfully the pressure of the vehicle will be distributed.

As long as the PVC pipe is positioned at least 12” deep in the ground, you are allowed to drive over the pipe. But remember that it’s always better to consider burying the PVC pipe deeper in the ground to preserve it further, so aim for burying PVC pipes 24” deeper.

The Arrangement Of Soil:

PVC pipes are susceptible to cracking even though they can carry a fair amount of weight, thereby, these pipes require extra support from soil to carry the vehicle’s weight.

So, as long as the soil in your yard is stiff enough and well packed, it will act as an extra solid surface which will help to keep most of the weight away from a PVC pipe and will preserve the PVC pipe more effectively.

The Soil Type:

If the soil in your yard is prepared from sedimentary stones, you surely can drive your vehicle over PVC pipes underneath. 

It’s because this type of soil with bits of stones/rocks is going to offset the total weight and pressure created by your vehicle that otherwise could have been directed at the PVC pipes.

Moreover, you can drive on a yard prepared with loam soil or soil with gravel too. But do not prepare the land with clay soil.

The Thickness Of PVC Pipes:

You must consider another factor which is the thickness of the PVC pipes positioned or about to be positioned below.

To know the exact thickness of the PVC pipes, check the schedule. A bigger schedule number is identified as thicker PVC pipes, which means if the PVC pipe underneath the ground has a schedule number 40, it’s thicker than schedule 20.

And try to choose a schedule 80 PVC pipe as a sewage pipe if you want to drive over it.

The Age Of The PVC Pipe:

The age of the PVC pipe defines how much pressure and weight the pipes can carry.

PVC pipes have plasticizers that improve the flexibility of these pipes and let the pipe walls arch when they need to carry weight. Thereby, you already might have guessed that the older the PVC pipes are, the more the plasticizers escape away from the pipes making them rigid. 

And driving over ager and rigid PVC pipe isn’t recommended as it can crack.

How To Drive Over A Buried PVC Pipe?

Here are the tips included that will help you to drive safely over a buried PVC pipe.

Drive A Right Weight Vehicle Only:

A PVC pipe of schedule 40 and 1.5 inches diameter can carry 954 pounds of weight of tensile strength and a PVC pipe of schedule 60 with 1.5 inches diameter can take up to 1125 pounds of weight of tensile strength. 

So, drive a vehicle that has the weight as the mentioned weight on the buried PVC pipe.

Drive Over Buried New PVC Pipe:

If you know that the PVC pipe underneath has gotten old enough and lost most of its plasticizers, do not drive over it until you change the pipe with a new one.

Drive On Compact Soil:

Bear in mind to drive your vehicle only if the soil of your ground is compact enough to take the vehicle’s pressure onto it rather than distributing it on the pipes. Don’t drive on clay soil.

Bury The Pipes Under 12” In-Ground:

The most important tip for you to drive over the buried PVC pipe is that to bury PVC pipes 12” underneath the top surface of the ground.

How Do I Run A Drainage PVC Pipe Under My Driveway?

You will be needing a big shovel, a trenching shovel, and schedule 80 sewage PVC pipes. If you don’t find a schedule 80 PVC pipe, you can use a schedule 40 PVC pipe too.

First, use the big shovel to dig at least 12-24 inches deep in the ground from both sides of the driveway. Then start to take out mud as much as possible and make a tunnel exactly beneath the driveway so that you can push the PVC drainage pipe on the other side of the driveway. 

If you can’t take out any more soil/mud with the big shovel, use the trenching shovel and take it out all gradually.

Once you have made enough big tunnel that has opened a gateway on the other side to push the drainage PVC pipe effortlessly, you can start pushing the drainage PVC pipe all way through the tunnel to the other side. 

And lastly, attach a popup drain with the drainage pipe at the end to discharge wastewater.

Final Thoughts

Driving over a buried PVC pipe underneath a yard or driveway is acceptable as long as the PVC pipe (be it a sewage pipe or water pipe) is buried 12” deeper underneath the yard or driveway and is surrounded by well-arranged, compacted soil with bits of rocks or gravel.