From engine exhaust pipe expansion joints to external pressurized balanced joints and pump connectors, pipe expansion joints are as varied as the uses they have.

What are pipe expansion joints?

Pipe expansion joints are pieces of equipment that are used in a variety of pipe systems and are constructed out of three main materials. Metal, rubber, and fabric are used to manufacture pipe expansion joints, and each pipe expansion joint use will determine what material is utilized in manufacturing that particular pipe expansion joint.

What are they used for?

Pipe expansion joints have unique and important functions, and a couple of types of them are used to reduced vibration and shock on piping systems. They are also used to reduce noise, relieve stress, and in some cases, compensate for thermal expansion. When the pipe system involved conveys high temperate substances, such as steam or exhaust gases, pipe expansion joints are necessary for the system to operate properly and mitigate any damage or malfunctioning of the piping structure. Other uses for pipe expansion joints may be for anti-vibration, earthquake movement, and building settlement.

How do they work?

Pipe expansion joints are compensators and are manufactured to hold parts together while safely absorbing possible high-temperature-induced expansion and contraction of building materials. They may also be used to make movement safe for the structure, such as with a pipeline when the seismic activity or ground movement occurs.

What are they made of?

Pipe expansion joints contain a variety of parts, such as bellows, cover, liners, end fittings, and limit rods. All of these parts make up a quality pipe expansion joint. These components have specific purposes, and they all work together to make the pipe expansion joint function properly. The makeup of the joint itself may also include a tube, carcass, retaining ring, a mating flange, and a control rod. Depending on the application, it will determine if a fabric expansion joint, metal expansion joint, or a rubber pipe expansion joint is needed, and what will work for that specific project.

Rubber pipe expansion joints

An elastomer or rubber manufactured pipe expansion joint is the most flexible connector for a pipe expansion joint application. Due to their flexible makeup, they are able to provide stress relief in a pipe system due to thermal and mechanical vibration or movement. They provide a leak-proof protective barrier and are used regularly in air conditioning, venting and cooling systems, petrochemical, and industrial applications.

Fabric pipe expansion joints

Fabric expansion joints are often used in ducts that carry hot gases at low pressures. The temperature and flow rates of those gases will determine the major design parameters. The amount and abrasiveness of the solids suspended in those gases also play a deciding factor in how your pipe expansion joint is manufactured. A fabric pipe expansion joint is made up of layers of different fabric insulation that can be combined to accommodate each specific need. Depending on the pressure and temperature in the application that is using the pipe expansion joint, that application or desired result will determine the type of construction and makeup of that expansion joint.

Metal pipe expansion joints

Metal pipe expansion joints are often used in piping systems for fire protection, cryogenic, and most high-pressure applications where steam is present. They also come in different models for different applications. An unrestrained model is the basic metal expansion joint. A tied expansion joint is used as a control unit to prevent pipe axial movement, which occurs from surges in a piping system. Hinged expansion joints prevent damage to the joint from shearing and pressure surges within the system. Engine exhaust and external pressurized balanced joints are some other examples of metal pipe expansion joints.

Pipe expansion joints have a comprehensive range of applications in a wide variety of industries. They can be engineered to exact specifications and made for easy installation. Some manufactures will also connect a pipe expansion joint to any fitting in their own facility and send it out as a complete unit. Innovative products and companies are using high engineering principles and stringent quality standards to market their pipe expansion joints. Click here to learn more.