Want to fortify your pipe system? Metal pipe clamps may be the all-stars that protect your pipes and save you a fortune. These versatile pipe supports keep pipes strong and enhance your pipe system’s performance.
Still, with so many varieties of metal pipe clamps out there, it isn’t always obvious which clamps will drive the best results for your system. We’re here to help. In this article, we lay out your best options and point out exactly how you can use them to reinforce your pipe system.
What is a Metal Pipe Clamp?
A metal pipe clamp is a pipe support that closes around—or clamps onto— your pipe. The main purpose of metal pipe clamps is to add support to pipes that would otherwise be vulnerable to unwanted movement.
Most essentially, pipe clamps keep pipes secure, preventing them from hitting surrounding objects and rupturing. Still, there may be more to pipe clamps than you realize. Depending on your piping system’s needs, different metal pipe clamps can add even more protection to pipes.
Types of Metal Pipe Clamps
One of the beautiful things about metal pipe clamps is that they come in a wide range of types. The best metal pipe clamp will help you reinforce piping in a way that complements your unique pipe system. Here are some of the most common types of metal pipe clamps, along with how you can use them to improve your pipe system:
Hold Down Clamps
Hold down clamps are perfect for intense pipe systems with high vibrations. These heavy-duty clamps lock down pipes and reduce vibrations. For instance, APP’s VibraTek Hold Down Clamps are specially designed to secure heavy metal pipes, while also absorbing vibrations that can cause surface wear.
Basic Steel Clamps
Steel clamps are pipe supports that are made up of two bent pieces of steel. This pair of metal pieces are usually bound via bolts and essentially shackle around your pipe to secure it. You can use steel clamps in combination with hangers to suspend pipes or you can weld them directly to pipe shoes.
Hold Down Straps
Hold down straps are heavy-duty U-bolts that clamp down on your pipe and secure it to beam or support. They are made of a metal strap to fit the pipe and threaded rod on Both sides. Both the strap and the rod sizes are customizable. You can also line the strap with various type of liners to limit metal-to-metal contact.
How to Use Metal Pipe Clamps
Pipe clamps aren’t just versatile in their design. You can also use pipe clamps to secure pipes in a number of ways. Here are some common ways to use pipe clamps to reinforce your pipes:
Metal Clamps as Hangers
By pairing your metal clamps with hangers, you can hang your pipes from overhead. When you use them in this way, pipe clamps let you keep suspended runs secure and out of harm’s way.
Metal Clamps as Elevators
When you combine clamps with pipe shoes, it lets you lift pipes off of surrounding surfaces. This is a simple way to elevate and protect horizontal pipe runs.
Metal Clamps as Vertical or Horizontal Supports
Whether your pipe runs are vertical or horizontal, pipe clamps add an element of support. You can attach them to surrounding support structures and hold your pipes safely in place, regardless of their layout.
How Do Metal Pipe Clamps Improve Your Pipe System?
So, how do metal pipe clamps strengthen your piping system? There are several ways they add protection and boost the performance of your pipes. Here are some common benefits of pipe clamps:
If your pipes are resting directly on beams, it can trigger disasters. When metal pipes rub on hard surfaces, it can wear down the pipe’s outer layer. And those weak spots aren’t just in danger of rupturing; they also can carve out tiny abrasions that harbor microbes and kick off crevice corrosion.
By welding a pipe clamp to a pipe shoe, you can lift pipes off surfaces, keep them secure, and separate them from destructive forces.
Your pipe runs don’t always have a convenient beam or support surface to rest on. Pipe clamps let you suspend pipes and secure them in overhead spaces. By teaming your pipe clamps up with threaded rods and a clevis, you can string up pipe runs, encourage better pipe flow, and physically separate pipes from dangerous surfaces.
Protect Pipes from the Elements
If your pipes are exposed to the elements on offshore rigs or other outdoor process piping systems, they need extra protection. If your pipes are left lying in liquid pools or grime, it can jumpstart corrosion. At the same time, wind, earthquakes, or inclement weather can cause unsecured pipes to come crashing down. Adding pipe clamps to your system can reinforce your pipes and keep them safer in the elements.
Cut Down Vibration Damage
High performance piping systems rely on reciprocating compressors, strong pumps, or other high-energy machines to push liquids through pipes. However, these energy producers can also cause vibrations to rumble through your pipes. Unprotected pipes can be hammered against surrounding surfaces and wear down. Advanced pipe clamps, such as APP’s VibraTek Hold-Down Clamps, are fitted with linings that cushion pipes. These heavy-duty supports harness pipes and protect them from surface abrasion.
How to Install Metal Pipe Clamps
Once you’ve picked out the perfect metal pipe clamp for your system, it pays to take a minute to install clamps the right way. After all, these supports are built to keep heavy and hanging pipes stable. If they give way, it can cause massive damage. Here are some things to consider when you install metal pipe clamps:
Pay attention to the metals you’re using.
Not all metals get along. If the metal of your pipe clamps isn’t compatible with the metal of your pipes, it can kick off galvanic corrosion. This especially nasty type of corrosion starts when one metal’s properties allow it to steal electrons from the other metal. The end result is rusted and weakened metal.
You can protect against galvanic corrosion by avoiding dissimilar metal contact, adding liners between metals, or reinforcing your pipe supports with galvanizing.
Double check your support spacing.
If your pipe clamps aren’t properly spaced out, it can cause pipes to sag. Drooping pipes can lead to corrosive pooling or put extra pressure on runs. That can cause pipes to collapse or can damage your pipe clamps. When installing pipe clamps, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s product sheet closely. If you notice saggy pipes, you may need to adjust the space between your pipe clamps.
Tighten clamps with care.
Pipe clamps are secured via nuts and bolts. If you ratchet them up too tight, you can strip them, and if they’re too loose, pipes can bang into your clamps and cause damage. Always be sure to tighten pipe clamps with care and use torque standards to guide you. There are also online torque calculators you can use to make sure you’re tightening pipe supports with precision.
Discover More Ways to Boost Your Pipe System’s Performance
Pipe clamps can protect your pipes and reinforce your entire pipe system. But when it comes to securing your pipes, they just scratch the surface. There is a whole world of pipe restraints that can strengthen your pipe system and save you long-term costs.
Want to learn which pipe restraints will improve your piping system the most? Download our Complete Guide to Pipe Restraints to learn the ins and outs of the most important pipe supports out there.