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What To Know About Thermal Expansion and Contraction

What To Know About Thermal Expansion and Contraction

Pipes are prone to expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. As conditions become warmer, devices expand, and they contract as temperatures decrease. This type of shift can cause warping, potentially weakening a system and leading to premature failure and repairs.

In this article, you’ll discover what to know about thermal expansion and contraction, the variables of these shifts, and how to design a pipe system that accommodates this movement.

Determining Thermal Expansion and Contraction

To determine how much a pipeline can expand and contract, consider the coefficient of the movement. No matter the type, pipe material has a linear thermal expansion coefficient that indicates the relation between degrees of temperature shifts and movement.

In other words, the length of the pipe fluctuates yet remains proportional to the material’s original length. The longer the pipeline, the more room it may have to expand or contract. When considering temperature change, note the conditions of the internal and external fluid transports.

Variables To Help Materials Handle Stress

Apart from a pipeline’s length, there are other variables to consider when determining expansion and contraction and mitigating significant damage to the system. Another factor is a material’s working stress limit, which is the maximum amount of pressure or the load it can handle while in operation.

Next, the system’s elastic modulus is a measure of the material’s stiffness or resistance to warping when handling stress. Lastly, the diameter of the pipeline’s exterior determines its ability to deflect stress when in use.

Designing a System for Expansion and Contraction

When designing a system to accommodate thermal expansion and contraction, changing the direction of the pipeline is an ideal method to help alleviate pressure. You can change its direction by adding expansion loops and offsets.

Installing expansion joints is another method to help accommodate movement as the joints absorb vibrations that can misalign a pipeline. Metal expansion joints can also handle higher temperatures, which is one reason why they are better than rubber alternatives.

Piping systems can be complex as they require several components to ensure their operation. But when dealing with thermal expansion and contraction, it’s helpful to know what can help you design and care for a functioning system.

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