Reasons behind thermal expansion and contraction in piping systems
One of the most powerful dynamic forces acting on piped services is thermal expansion and contraction. All piping materials expand or contract when pipes are exposed to higher or lower temperatures than the installation temperature. If a pipe run is fixed at both ends and heated, the expansion of the liner pipe due to temperature change will cause compressive stresses in the pipe material. If the resulting stress is strong enough to exceed the pipe material’s allowed stress, the pipe, supports, or piping components may be damaged. Depending on the extent of the damage, the facility may be forced to shut down for a period of time to make repairs or replace the piping system. Because piping systems frequently transport hot fluids, piping stresses and flexibility analysis must be carefully executed to minimize difficulties.