If you have an upcoming project, you’re probably wondering, “Do I really need quality pipe supports?” Is it worth investing in these sidekicks when they’re playing a supporting role?
It’s simple: If you care about the long-term costs and effectiveness of those pipes, the answer is a resounding yes. But it’s easy to overlook why pipe supports are so crucial. Here are five reasons why they can make or break your next project.
1. Pipe Supports Control Heat
You may not see it, but there’s a fight going on in your pipes. Heat is constantly trying to break in or escape. Unfortunately, metal can act as a bridge for heat.
This leads to several problems. First, if you have metal pipes resting on metal or concrete beams, it’s going to encourage heat to flow freely. This means that ice can form on your pipes, or you can lose energy. Either way, when pipes gather ice or condensation, it wears them down. This all speeds up erosion and can cause pipes to rupture.
Another big problem with unchecked heat is heat’s relationship with movement. The two go hand in hand. This means that more heat usually turns into more pipe movement. When pipes go without a buffer or insulator, they can rub against surfaces, scrape, and tear.
Supports protect pipes from the destruction that comes from heat. For instance, pipe shoes solve heat problems by insulating pipes. They stop heat from jumping across barriers while keeping pipes from physically rubbing up on surrounding supports. Additionally, pipe restraints can redirect movement and keep mobile pipes from rupturing.
2. Reduce Energy Consumption
Fluids aren’t the only things running through your pipes. Energy is constantly flowing within them. Pumps or reciprocating systems require energy to push fluids forward. In turn, you, and your wallet, want them to be doing as little work as possible. To do that, fluids need to run along as clear a path as possible without hitting resistance or losing momentum along the way.
Unfortunately, as heat escapes (or when fluids hit friction), energy is wasted. Supports like pipe restraints prop up pipes and keep what’s in them flowing in the most energy-efficient direction. At the same time, insulated supports keep heat and energy moving through pipes without taking a detour through adjacent surfaces.
3. Cut Down on Noise
Process piping systems, especially those with reciprocating compressors, can get loud. What not everyone realizes is that pipe restraints can drastically cut down on on-site noise because they absorb vibrations and cushion pipes.
Still, there are more reasons for cutting down on noisy systems than just the peace and quiet. Remember, that noise is coming from somewhere. Most of the time, pipes or parts are banging into other hard objects. With every little punch, those pipes wear, and their surrounding structures loosen.
Luckily, pipe restraints or pipe shoes can reduce vibrations and friction. They cut down on noise, but they also protect your pipes from taking constant impact and wearing down.
4. Stop Corrosion
Corrosion is a massive threat to pipes. It’s led to destroyed pipes, oil spills, and millions of dollars in damage. Quality pipe supports will stop corrosion in its tracks.
For one thing, they protect against the electrochemical corrosion that sets in when dissimilar metals are paired up. For instance, isolators physically separate metals so that the corrosion process doesn’t have the ingredients it needs to get started.
At the same time, supports can pad pipes and keep corrosion-protective coatings from chipping away and becoming vulnerable to rust.
5. Save Money in the Future
Overall, pipe supports are an investment in your broader project and system. Every time your system loses energy or experiences wear, those costs add up. At the same time, neglected pipes often lead to financial disasters.
Even when there isn’t a glaring fix that your system needs, it pays to invest in supports as a long-term cost saver. If you want to pay less in the long run, treat them like vitamins, not Band-Aids. They keep pipe wear from worsening and increase the value of your system in the long run.
How Pipe Supports Fit into Your System
When used correctly, pipe supports can be the all-stars of your next project. Want to learn more about how these tools work? Read our Complete Guide to Pipe Restraints.