Time to replace wooden pipe supports
When someone asks the question “what’s the most out-dated practice in the insulation industry today” few who would argue that the answer is anything but the ongoing use of wooden pipe blocks.
Pipe blocks made from hard wood have a long history dating back to the earliest days of the industry. Few insulation materials in wide use have ever been physically strong enough to resist compression if the weight of the pipe were allowed to rest on them and wooden pipe blocks were the original solution to this problem.
With a high compressive strength it’s always been possible to apply pipe clamps around wooden pipe blocks and to let the whole weight of the pipe rest on them. There are, however, two major problems with the use of wooden pipe blocks as part of a modern mechanical insulation system.
The flaws of wooden support blocks
The first is the much poorer thermal performance of wood when compared against a modern insulation material. This naturally results in higher levels of energy loss through wooden pipe blocks than elsewhere in the insulation system, creating highly wasteful “thermal bridges”.
On refrigeration pipes these “thermal bridges” are particularly costly since they are prone to experience condensation and external ice build-up around the support.
The second problem with wooden pipe blocks is the lack of an effective water vapour barrier. Wood does offer some natural resistance to water but nowhere near enough to prevent moisture ingress through the material towards a cold pipe. Using wooden blocks on an air-conditioning or refrigeration pipes is often a recipe for disaster because it can result in localised pipe corrosion.
Kaiflex RT – a modern solution
For decades the insulation industry has promoted an alternative – insulated load bearing pipe supports that perform the same function as wooden blocks but have much better technical properties. This is certainly true of the insulated pipe supports that we promote here at Kaimann.
Kaiflex RT pipe supports are based on a load bearing core of rigid PIR insulation that has a thermal conductivity no higher than that of Kaiflex ST. On each side of the PIR core is a disc of flexible Kaiflex insulation that allows for installation under compression and the creation of a tight water vapour tight seal between the insulation and the support.
A hard plastic cladding around the pipe support completes the vapour sealed system and protects the rigid core from physical damage.