How To Mitigate Thermal Expansion in Pipe Systems

As part of nature’s laws, materials can contract in cold and expand in the heat. Metal pipelines are no exception. Pipe systems are often subject to thermal expansion and contraction when transferring fluids and fumes.

Because of the extreme temperature changes of these materials, it helps to know how to mitigate thermal expansion in pipe systems and keep stresses down to a minimum. In this article, you’ll discover components to use when alleviating stress in a pipeline.

Expansion Offsets

Expansion offsets are standard in pipe systems that require clearance from fixed structures. These parts possess an “L” shape, acting as elbows that configure systems to different angles.

As the pipeline expands, offsets will push in toward the system, deflecting stress towards the right. During contraction, the offsets will angle toward the left.

Expansion Loops

You’ll typically notice expansion loops in the middle of a pipe’s run; this component will help configure a system into a “U” shape, using a bracket to restrain the center. Each side that directs towards the “U” may use a guide to accommodate for pipe movement.

It’s common for loop openings to narrow or widen as needed to adjust to pipeline lengths. By installing pipe sections within the system, the line can run perpendicular and reduce stress on designated anchor points.

Expansion Joints

Expansion joints are most frequently used in tight, enclosed areas where it would be difficult to include a loop or offset. Expansion joints are shock absorbers that try to lessen pressure as much as possible while simultaneously allowing the pipe to move freely within another component.

Expansion joints work best when anchored properly, so you’ll want to avoid making these mistakes when anchoring them.

Directional Changes

Pipe systems typically include changes in direction that you can use as deflection mechanisms to further alleviate pressure and stress. You would notice these devices towards the end of a pipe’s long run.

Combined with an adjoining part, the changes of direction will streamline material through the pipeline, discouraging pressure from building up, ultimately leading to failure.

Extreme temperature shifts are the main cause of stress within a pipeline, potentially damaging it in the process. By knowing how to mitigate thermal expansion, you can protect pipe systems from premature failure and eliminate the need for unnecessary repairs.

By Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.