Pipe systems are necessary for so many industries, including power plants, landfills, and manufacturing facilities. To protect these pipes, engineers must install expansion joints. These expansion joints have several common applications, but their function boils down to two core functionalities. They are made from materials particularly tailored to limit thermal expansion as temperatures rise and fall, causing the pipes to expand and contract. Meanwhile, they’re effective at limiting pipe vibration as pipe systems operate. This antivibration feature is crucial to maintaining pipe integrity and preventing failures along the system, particularly for longer running piping. To learn more about how expansion joints stop vibration, read our brief guide on the topic.
They Separate Pipe Materials
The most important facet of an expansion joint is that it essentially breaks up pipe systems into smaller sections of piping. If a plant’s pipes were one continuous length of pipe, the reverberations from pump operation would cause gradual vibration increases, eventually cracking the pipe or damaging it in other ways. When industrial facilities install expansion joints, these points receive and dampen upstream pipe vibration and even out the entire system so that downstream piping doesn’t move. This lengthens the pipe system’s lifespan.
Joints Have Give as They Encounter Vibration Forces
Not only do expansion joints separate pipes, but they give added flexibility so the pipe structure can accommodate vibrations. Joints are not rigid like pipes are, so they have some give as vibrations occur. As these joints shift slightly, they greatly lessen the severity of downstream vibration.
Their Elastomer Material Dampens Vibrations
Another reason expansion joints stop vibration is that they commonly consist of vibration-dampening elastomers. Elastomers are elastic polymers, including rubber, that don’t pass vibration forces downstream the way other materials do. Instead, the elastomer material is comparatively stable as vibrations pass. All these factors—joints’ elastomer material, their relative give during vibrations, and the way they separate long pipe structures—work together to mitigate major, potentially damaging vibration forces.