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2 Types of Pipe Support: Overview, Benefits and Drawbacks

A pipe support is, as the name suggests, something that can support a pipe. It’s that simple, right? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t always as easy as this to identify what a pipe support is. It’s not always that simple to know how to choose one, especially as there are many different classifications of pipe supports. Choosing between the many pipe supports that are available can be a challenge. That’s why, in this article, we have covered the main classifications of pipe supports and the 2 critical types of pipe support that you must be aware of. We have also covered the benefits and drawbacks of these two main pipe support types. So, to find out what they are, read this article. 

What are pipe supports?

Pipe supports, which can be referred to as a type of support piping system, can consist of various components, such as a pipe clamp, different valves, or a pipe hanger (for horizontal pipes—pipes that are arranged in a horizontal direction), which are used to support a specific working load. A support piping system should be capable of supporting not only the heavy weight of the pipe, but it should also be able to support the load contained within the pipe within loading and operating conditions. They are also responsible for controlling lateral movements. 2 Types of Pipe Support: Overview, Benefits and Drawbacks

How are pipe supports installed?

Pipe supports are installed intermittently, meaning they are placed at intervals and incorporated into the steel structure.  They must be placed close to the weightier parts of the piping steel structure and the piping technology, such as the valves and other components such as the flanges, since they are the ideal supports for these components.

What should engineers look for when choosing a top pipe support?

The best pipe support restricts movement, specifically keeping pipe movement to a minimum, while taking into consideration the pipe size, and since there are pipe supports that match different purposes, the support of the pipe must be well-chosen and absorb shock that the pipe can sustain. There are a couple of key points to consider when you choose a pipe support. Now only will you need to think about the particular load that you have to support, which might be a primary load (like pipe pressure), or secondary load (like pipe vibration due to the pipe’s change in temperature) you will also need to think about the conditions that the piping support needs to withstand and work under, such as certain weather conditions. Now, pipe supports carry pipes which, in turn, carry thermal loads. A pipe support should therefore factor in thermal expansion, which refers to the change in temperature and the different temperature extremes between the normal operation, or operating condition, and the installation condition.  In this sense, a component that helps absorb vertical displacement that temperature changes cause are spring supports, so looking for top pipe supports that have the right components is essential.

Piping support examples categorized: Primary and secondary pipe supports

There are several types of piping support categories that your piping support can be classed as. The main other two categories to be aware of are primary piping supports and secondary piping supports. Each of these pipe supports are defined by the way they connect to your piping.

What are primary pipe supports?

The primary pipe supports are those that attach or connect to the pipe itself. Some of the main types of primary piping supports include pipe shoe, clamp supports, and pipe guides/guide supports. 

What are secondary pipe supports?

The secondary pipe supports are those that don’t attach directly to the pipe itself. Some of the main types of secondary piping supports include tee posts and racks.

What are the 2 main pipe support types?

The two main types of pipe support are adjustable pipe supports and rigid pipe supports. The piping system that you choose will depend on the requirements of the project. Here’s more information on each of these pipe supports and the difference between these types of piping technology.

1.  Adjustable pipe supports: What are they?

An adjustable pipe support is one that you can manually adjust to match your site and project’s requirements and conditions. There are a few main examples of adjustable pipe supports, including pipe saddles, a variable spring hanger (some of which use rod hangers), and pipe clamps.

What are the benefits of adjustable pipe supports?

There are five crucial benefits to be aware of when selecting an adjustable piping support. In addition to being safer, they are reliable, help with cost savings, are better for maintenance and enable you to make adjustments. Let’s have a look at each of these benefits in turn in more detail.
Adjustable pipe supports offer safety in your plant 
If your pipeline fails for any reason, you risk the health and safety of your team members. Stepping in and making the right adjustments or changes is critical in situations like these, and adjustable supports can assist you with this. With adjustable supports, you won’t need to adjust the supporting structure. You can access the pipes with ease and act without any danger affecting your team. 
Adjustable pipe supports are ideal for different weather types 
The flexibility with which you can make small adjustments to the piping of your plant with adjustable pipe supports is remarkable. This means that any work that you have already completed can be sustained with the help of adjustable pipe supports; even if there is bad weather, you can protect the work you’ve done with adjustable supports.
Pipe supports that are adjustable help you make cost savings
The main problem with rigid pipe supports is that they are often welded into the piping system. Now, since adjustable supports can be affixed with certain components, such as piping saddles, you won’t need to affix them permanently to your piping system.  Less work is needed to affix them and you won’t have to solicit skilled welders or get your welding work inspected—(which would cost extra).
Pipe supports that are adjustable make maintenance effortless
Adjustable pipe supports make maintenance of your piping project effortless. Take Pro Support Solutions’ pipe clamps, for instance, their exceptional quality makes industrial plumbing and oil and gas plant engineering projects such as skid construction effortless. The main reason for this effortless maintenance is that you can identify corrosion damage with ease.
Making adjustments to your piping structure is easy with adjustable pipe supports
This piping technology makes it easy to adjust your pipe runs if required. So, if you happen to make a piping error, adjustable pipe supports can make it easy to adjust your piping technology or pipe technology support locations. And the moment you’ve identified the potential issues with your piping, you can start making plans to fix the error.

What are the drawbacks of adjustable pipe supports?

There are two drawbacks of choosing adjustable pipe supports—quality is key, but it can be difficult to find and select the right supplier, with the right components for your project, and corrosion can be another problem to watch out for. Here’s a little more information on each of these.
Choosing the right quality is critical
Some suppliers of adjustable pipe supports and components do not provide the optimal quality for your project. Choosing the right quality is essential and ensuring that the components are hot-dip galvanized is crucial. This is something that Pro Support Solutions and partner MEFA provide, ensuring that the quality is always exceptional. 
Corrosion of piping can be expensive if the right adjustable pipe supports aren’t chosen
Although you might have to pay a lot to prevent the corrosion of your piping if you don’t choose the right adjustable pipe support, you can avoid this by selecting the right provider and the right components, such as Pro Support Solutions’ many different types of pipe hangers.  As mentioned, the piping supports provided by Pro Support Solutions are hot-dip galvanized, protecting them from expensive corrosion damage. 2 Types of Pipe Support: Overview, Benefits and Drawbacks

2.  Rigid supports: What are they?

A rigid support is specifically suited to mitigate movement of a pipe in at least one direction. These types of supporting structures are installed into the pipe’s foundation, and the supporting structure/structural foundational support, but these types of supports are not adjustable.

What are the main types of rigid pipe supports?

Three of the main types of rigid pipe supports include pipe shoes, dummy leg pipe supports, pipe hangers and struts. Other examples of rigid pipe supports include slide plates and t-slide supports.

What are the benefits of rigid pipe supports?

The two main benefits of rigid pipe supports are that they both support the pipes and guide them in the right direction. They also prevent sagging.
Rigid pipe supports carry the weight of a piping system
The main benefit of rigid pipe supports, such as rod hangers, is that they mitigate movement transmission that thermal changes or vibrations can cause to piping. This keeps the structure, the weight of the pipes, and the load they carry secure and well-supported.
Rigid pipe supports prevent sagging and guide the piping system accurately
The second main benefit of rigid pipe supports is that they guide the piping system and ensure they do not move downward. In other words, rigid pipe supports, such as pipe show supports, prevent the pipe from sagging excessively under the weight of the load.

What are the drawbacks of rigid pipe supports?

Two main drawbacks of rigid pipe supports include that they require welding in some cases, they are often unable to be adjusted and can make it tricky to access the piping if an engineer needs to make changes to the structure.
Rigid pipe supports require welding
Since rigid pipe supports require welding, there are two main costs to be aware of if you choose this type of pipe support: the cost of welding itself and the potential costs incurred due to prolonged downtime when fixing a piping system with a rigid pipe support.
You cannot easily adjust a rigid pipe support
Rigid pipe supports are not always flexible when compared with adjustable pipe supports. This means it might not be possible to access your piping if you want to make changes to accommodate the requirements of your project or fix any errors with ease.

More specific piping support examples

Then, there are several other types of pipe support classifications, including limit stop supports, a pipe anchor or fixed point support, transverse guides, loose support, and longitudinal guide. Here’s more on each of those classifications.

Limit stop supports

Using a limit stop pipe permits free movement in certain directions, specifically when the pipe movement moves at right angles in relation to the axial direction, but they restrict movement in terms of the axial direction.

Fixed point supports

Fixed point supports prevent pipe movement in three directions, including three rotational directions. It can rotate and for certain projects might be used alongside a pipe guide support, offering anchor support for the pipe’s thermal loads.

Transverse guides

You can use transverse guides alongside a loose support. Transverse guides are particularly useful for restricting longitudinal movement, which is movement that is perpendicular in comparison to the pipe’s length. They do permit longitudinal movement.

Loose support

Using a loose support is ideal if you want to support the weight of a pipe, but only for supporting piping along the vertical direction.

Longitudinal guide

You can use a longitudinal guide to support pipes if you need to restrict movement specifically for the transverse direction. Longitudinal pipe supports are used alongside loose pipe supports as well. 2 Types of Pipe Support: Overview, Benefits and Drawbacks

Pipe supports: Choose excellence for your project

There’s no question that choosing quality pipe supports is essential when completing your pipe engineering project. This isn’t always easy given the broad range of pipe supports available for the project. However, keep in mind that a good pipe support will not only carry a pipe, but it will:
  • Support the primary and secondary loads of a pipe
  • Absorb shock that your pipe might endure
  • Prevent the sagging of a pipe
  • Withstand changes of temperature in a pipe
  • Ensure you can effortlessly access the pipe to make changes
  • Guide the pipe effectively
  • Ensure your plant environment is safe
If you have been searching for a pipe support option that ticks all of the above boxes, be sure to take a look at Pro Support Solutions and partners MEFA and DG-SKID. Our quality solutions and piping technologies are second to none and guarantee perfection when completing your plant engineering project.

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