An overview of insulated pipe supports

Published on: 24 January 2019

What are insulated pipe supports?

Insulated pipe supports sit in between the pipe itself and the pipe clamp or clips, to maintain thermal performance. One of the main types of insulated pipe supports, phenolic foam blocks, work to prevent thermal conduction which can result in heat loss and an increase in energy usage.

Why do you need them?

Insulated pipe supports isolate the pipework from the pipe clamp to limit heat transfer and thermal bridging. It also allows for a continuous vapour barrier to be carried through the support system.

What are the main types of insulated pipe supports?

pipe brackets and pipe hanging system

There are three main types of insulated pipe supports:

  1. Wood – this is the most traditional method of insulating pipe supports.
  2. Phenolic – this has become the preferred method of insulating pipe supports.
  3. Calcium silicate – this is mainly used in extremely high temperatures.

Wood pipe insulation supports overview:

Wood blocks were the preferred material for insulating supports for a long time. In recent years, however, the use of wooden pipe support inserts has dwindled. This is likely due to the updated British Standard for insulated pipe supports, BS5970:2012 which now gives the view that “wooden pipe supports should not be used”.

Wood blocks do not offer a reasonable thermal bridge between the outer works and the pipe. There is an increased risk of condensation forming on wooden blocks and they are ineffective at maintaining vapour barriers.

 

Phenolic foam pipe insulation overview:

Phenolic foam pipe insulation blocks are a very effective alternative to wood blocks, and have rapidly become the number one preferred insulated pipe support material.phenolic

Independent thermal analysis has shown that the use of phenolic insulated pipe support inserts can reduce heat loss through the supports of +75°C LTHW systems by up to 10x when compared to wood block inserts. This is in addition to the benefits of phenolic in maintaining the vapour barrier and limiting heat gain on systems operating below ambient temperature.

Phenolic insulation is also much more cost effective than wood, calcium silicate or foam glass alternatives due to a higher insulation value.

The image below demonstrates the rate of heat loss on (from left to right) phenolic pipe support, a rubber lined clip fixed to pipe, a metal clip fixed to pipe, wood block pipe support.

Insulated pipe supports

Calcium silicate pipe insulation overview:

Typically, calcium silicate insulation is used where pipe temperatures exceed 250°F. Therefore, the usual places you’ll find this type of insulation include chemical plants, refineries, and steam electric power plants.

 

Are there any regulations for insulated pipe supports?

As previously mentioned, there is a British Standard – BS5970 – which was updated in 2012. This is a code of practice relating to the thermal insulation of pipework, ductwork, associated equipment and other industrial installations. The 2012 update included a few significant changes.

One change being that the code of practice no longer permits the use of wooden block pipe supports due to them providing an ineffective vapour barrier and having poorer thermal properties than the alternatives.  

In addition, the standard recommends that the pipe support bracket being fixed over the load bearing insulation is of the same material (or compatible with) the insulation on the pipe.

 

The benefits of Walraven’s insulated pipe supports

Walraven’s phenolic foam pipe insulation supports (Phenblox) are tested and guaranteed compatible with our main unlined clamp ranges (see Phenblox brochure for compatib

phenolic

ility table). Our blocks are made from high-density phenolic foam with the best available thermal insulation properties. They are CFC and HCFC free and classified as Zero ODP (ozone depletion products). To guarantee the technical properties of our phenolic, each batch is also tested in accordance with ISO 9001:2015.

In addition to this, Walraven Phenblox’ have a special bore coating, which eradicates any possibility of pipe corrosion on copper pipes. They are also 

manufactured with stepped joint faces to ensure vapour seal and accurate placement.

We would recommend the use of phenolic foam over the alternatives as it has the best insulation value.

 

Installing the complete pipe support system

As well as manufacturing phenolic insulation blocks, we also manufacture all of the individual components that, when used together, create the complete pipe support system. This includes parts such as:

pipe brackets and pipe hanging system

Although Walraven Phenblox’ can be used in conjunction with other components, there are some advantages to using the complete Walraven system, a couple being:

  1. We have 100% quality control over all of our products since they are all manufactured within our own factories.
  2. Specifying pipe support systems can be complex, as such, our team of Technical Support Advisers provide a FREE project support service to our customers including consultation and problem-solving.

Can Walraven help you with your next project?

To take a closer look at our insulated pipe support range, you can download our brochure, containing technical information below.

Download our insulated pipe support brochure

If you want to find out more about pipe support systems as a whole then take a look at our comprehensive guide on pipe clamps.

 

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