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By: Antonino Cantone on 14/12/2021 06:34:23 AM
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How To Account For Pipe Expansion In Plumbing Systems

There are some challenges in plumbing systems that simply cannot be avoided. Thermal expansion and contraction is a hazard of the nature of plumbing itself, as the elements are often working against you.

 

In all plumbing systems, there are fluctuations in temperature. This naturally causes expansion in materials. Every material will bring with it an element of compressive stress. The longer the piping run, the more susceptible you are to compressive stress. 

Reducing the risk of compressive stresses on pipework reduces long term damage, leaks and ultimately, potentially costly repairs. Prolonging the life of a FlowGuard CPVC plumbing system means protecting the system by deflecting this compressive stress. Fortunately, FlowGuard CPVC works in the installer’s favour.

 

FlowGuard Flexibility

FlowGuard CPVC has an inherent flexibility, unlike most of its metallic counterparts. It is this flexibility that minimizes the threat of long term damage, as the compressive stress is spread out, rather than concentrated in one vulnerable area. 

As long as the system is installed correctly and pipe sections are not too long and vulnerable to bending, FlowGuard CPVC’s inherent flexibility will begin to do the work of reducing the threat of pipe expansion for you. 

However, as installers, there’s more we can do. The following are best practices for accounting for pipe expansion in FlowGuard CPVC plumbing systems. 

 

Expansion Loops

Where space allows, expansion loops are an effective way to deflect compressive stress and account for movement, by incorporating a “U” shape into the piping run. Each section that is connected to the “U” shape is suspended and fixed with a hanger to allow the loop to move freely without compromising the system.

 



Change in Direction

Deflection techniques involve a change in direction to offset the effects of pipe expansion. In a typical residence, plumbing systems normally require many changes in direction; this is an opportunity to account for movement in the corner elbows and adjoining pipes.

 

 

Expansion Offsets

Expansion offsets are particularly useful for avoiding obstacles. Elbow joints allow for a degree of insertion as expansion causes movement. The vertical run of pipe between the top and bottom elbow joints shifts freely from left to right for expansion, right to left for contraction.

 

 

Expansion Joints

Sometimes, a location does not afford the installer a wealth of space to install loops and elbow joints as needed. It is recommended that as a last resort, expansion joints are utilised as shock absorbers. This essentially allows pipe sections a degree of free movement within the adjoining pipe. 

 

The Expansion Calculator  

We recommend using the FlowGuard CPVC Pipe Expansion Calculator to determine the dimensions required for expansion loops and joints. Together with accurate and sensible use of spacing, hangers and of course, proper solvent cement installation of FlowGuard pipe and fittings, you can maintain a healthy and long service life in any plumbing installation.

To learn more and to see these techniques in action, watch our new installation video series, including our video on How To Account For Pipe Expansion In Plumbing Systems.