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The Unsung Heroes of Piping Supports


Everyone knows a piping system when they see one. However, knowing that pipelines carry fluid or gases from Point A to Points B and C is only half the story. What about those unassuming supporting roles played by stanchions and trunnions? Also, dummy legs are usually forgotten in the celebration of high-quality pipe systems.

The Unsung Heroes

In truth, these and other types of piping supports are vital to the integrity, durability, and functionality of a piping system.

For example, the makeup of a piping system in a refinery or petrochemical facility can be highly complex. The design requires advanced engineering and planning to ensure the system remains in place, without fail, over a long period of time.

The combined load of the pipes, accessories, insulation materials and the material being conducted can be massive. Engineers must also compensate for any potential forces that may be created by expansion and contraction, pressure surges, and potential seismic activity.

Just as important as the materials and strength of the pipes themselves are the placement, durability, and type of supports necessary to reinforce the system and avoid disaster from collapsing.

Designers of piping systems utilize complex formulas to assess the maximum potential load at each point in the system. Since piping often follows complicated routes and angles and may be suspended from above or supported from beneath, several types of supports are appropriate for different circumstances.

Three principal anchoring strategies important for piping systems are stanchions, trunnions, and dummy legs.


Stanchions are the heavy-duty workhorse of a piping system. These vertical carbon steel supports may bear most of the weight in many ground-supported systems. Stanchions are securely attached to the steel or concrete ground surface and transfers the load of the piping segment directly into the ground.

Stanchions may have a curved top surface to cradle the pipes or support an attachment designed to hold the pipe section in place.


Trunnions are dual supports used primarily to secure vertical pipe segments when no movement in the piping system is anticipated.

Dummy Legs

Visualize a piping system that maintains a straight, horizontal course for some distance and then makes a 90° right turn on the same plane. The installer will use an “elbow” piece to accommodate the directional change.

In many instances, the elbow and the adjacent pipe sections are hanging out in open space with no support. The solution is to precisely weld a section of the same or smaller-sized pipe to the elbow and then attach the other end of the dummy leg to the nearest fixed support point.

Contact APP Manufacturing

If you are a procurement or supply chain manager unsure about sourcing some piping system components, the professionals at APP will define the purpose of any support accessories you need. With three decades of experience, this Houston-based company has supplied pipe support products like pads, shoes, restraints, supports, hangers, and other accessories to leading enterprises in the petrochemical, refining, solar, marine, and other industries.

Visit the APP Manufacturing website for more information or call 888-408-9872 and talk with one of our APP professionals.