When to Use Pipe Expansion Joints

Putting pipe expansion joints into your plumbing system can be the difference between pipes that last forever and pipes that fail after just one year. While they might not seem as important as other parts of your plumbing, if you want to avoid costly repairs and replacements, it’s essential to know exactly when to use them. In this article, we look at how expansion joints help prevent long-term damage to your plumbing system and when to use pipe expansion joints.

Pipe Expansion Joint Applications

There are several situations where pipe expansion joints can be beneficial. The most common situation is when you have a long run of pipe that will experience temperature changes, and you want to prevent thermal stress on the pipe. An example would be piping that runs from a cold storage unit (where it is typically kept at a very low temperature) up into an attic space (where it will warm up considerably). If you don’t install expansion joints in such a scenario, there could be serious problems with cracking or buckling due to thermal stress.

Residential Piping Systems

Pipe expansion joints are necessary in piping systems that experience thermal expansion and contraction. This is especially important in plumbing piping which must not leak as a result of expansion and contraction, most commonly in hot water pipes which carry extremely hot water that would be too hazardous if it leaked. They allow for some flexibility or give in cases where conditions change rapidly. While they don’t prevent pipes from experiencing these changes, they do allow them to move within a specific range while remaining strong and secure against leaks.

Commercial Piping Systems

When we’re talking about commercial piping systems, it is important that you understand just how vital expansion joints are in relation to what you plan on building. In commercial environments, you have to take temperature changes into account, or else pipes and fixtures can end up cracking and splitting. Without expansion joints, your entire structure could be compromised by these potential issues.

Industrial Piping Systems

It may seem like a small detail, but industrial piping systems need expansion joints just as much as residential piping systems. The reason is temperature changes. In a residential system, an expansion joint could be necessary in case of large water heater fluctuations. In an industrial system, expansion joints are needed so that pipes can accommodate more extreme changes in temperature while still doing their job effectively. This means piping cannot contract too much or it will put unnecessary strain on fittings and other components.

Written by 

Alex Wilson: Alex, a former tech industry executive, writes about the intersection of business and technology, covering everything from AI to digital transformation.