Gravity is a powerful force, and it can wreak havoc on a piping system. Add gravity’s constant pull to the momentum of high-impact piping systems, and you have a recipe for destruction.
Luckily, vertical pipe support can drastically reduce gravity’s impact and keep your piping system running smoothly.
What Is Vertical Pipe Support?
To understand vertical pipe support, it is important to understand how a pipe can move. Start by imagining you’re looking down a long, horizontal pipe run. Now picture that pipe sitting on a bare beam, untouched by pipe supports.
As liquids slosh around inside the pipe and vibrations rumble through metal, the pipe will naturally move in three directions:
- Axial movement: Essentially, axial movement is when a pipe slides along its axis. In a horizontal run, it would mean the pipe creeps forward and backward in a straight line.
- Lateral movement: In our horizontal example, lateral movement would mean the pipe is rocking side to side.
- Vertical movement: With vertical motion, a pipe moves up and down. In our original horizontal pipe run example, the pipe would be bouncing off the bare I-beam, lifting lightly into the air, and landing back on the beam.
Vertical movement is especially brutal because gravity adds to the pipe’s momentum. Read on for three ways to boost vertical pipe support.
1. Pick Vertical Supports That Fully Protect Pipes
Gravity isn’t the only destructive force vertical supports should fight. They also need to prevent corrosion and wear. In addition to stopping movement, quality supports will include built-in protection against all of a piping system’s destructive forces. Here are some ways high-performing vertical supports protect pipes:
- Friction protection: By pairing pipe support with liners, you can insulate pipes and enable them to absorb vibrations. Essentially, vertical pipe supports should dampen the effect of gravity and cushion the blow when the metal of your pipes strikes the metal of supports.
- Movement control: Controlling movement doesn’t always mean pinning a pipe against a support structure. You can also use guides to redirect motion. Pipe restraints can help the pipe move axially while minimizing vertical movement. By redirecting movement and spreading out pressure, guides secure pipes and protect against destructive point-loading.
2. Pay Special Attention to Suspended Pipes
If you have suspended piping, it is worth taking a second look at your vertical pipe supports on these pipe runs. Gravity is especially harsh when you have long pipe runs that are lifted in the air. Whenever you have a run that is hovering above the ground, it needs to be reinforced with properly spaced pipe supports. Otherwise, your pipes could sag or flex.
Wondering why your vertical supports need to correct sagging pipes? Here are a few reasons:
- Pipe breaks: Gravity piles pressure onto sagging pipes and pulls them down even further. When heavy fluids rush through these pipes, they’re in danger of collapsing or bursting.
- Corrosion: When pipes sag, liquids can become trapped in dips and crevices. This pooling can lead to pipe corrosion and leaks.
- Blockages and wear: On uneven or bumpy pipe runs, liquids can smash into sagging pipe edges. This friction can wear down pipes, cause internal debris to pile up, and weigh down pipes even more.
If you notice sagging pipes, take a second look at your vertical pipe supports. They may need to be adjusted, or they might require full-on replacement.
3. Understand What Vertical Support Is Available
It is hard to know which products will support your pipes best when you don’t know what’s out there. We’ve laid out some examples to get you started. Here are a few types of vertical pipe supports:
- Clamps and Straps: Clamps and straps can cut down vertical movement and dampen vibrations. For instance, VibraTek Hold Down Clamps are equipped with a special lining that absorbs vibrations.
- Hangers: Most pipe hangers allow pipes to swing laterally but stop vertical movement. They can provide vertical support to pipes that are suspended without relying on an underlying beam.
- U-Bolts: Standard U-bolts are designed to hold pipes against a support structure. In addition to adding vertical support, advanced products also guide piping. For example, ProTek U-Bolts include a thermoplastic coating, which encourages axial movement while restricting vertical motion.
Add Vertical Pipe Support to Your System
Whether you want to elevate or preserve the performance of your piping system, vertical supports are crucial. But you don’t have to find that perfect solution on your own. Contact one of our pros today, and we’ll help you find the right product for your next project.