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Pipe insulation saddles/shields – Refrigeration application

Saddles are a must when it comes to refrigeration piping. The most important factor to consider is thermal expansion of copper piping, especially on long pipe runs. The supermarkets are a great example to demonstrate it since the size of their buildings are big and require pipe runs that can exceed 300 feet.

System Application Temperature variation of piping Temperature expansion of piping per 100 feet Temperature expansion of piping per 200 feet Temperature expansion of piping per 300 feet
Low Temperature 70° F to -40° F 1-3/8 inches 2-3/4 inches 4-1/8 inches
Medium Temperature 70° F to 0° F 7/8 inches 1-3/4 inches 2-5/8 inches
Hot Gas Defrost System 120° F to -40° F 2-1/8 inches 4-1/4 inches 6-3/8 inches

As you can see from the table above, a 300 feet pipe run can expand over 6 inches. More important is that it will occur several times during a day. What are the consequences?

insulated-pipe-damageThe left picture shows traditional saddles that have been installed between the strut hanger and the insulation, to prevent insulation damage. The intention was good but since the saddles are following the linear movement of piping due to thermal expansion…well…the saddles eventually fell off or flipped aside. This led to insulation damage and got the copper piping in direct contact with the strut. The pipes continued their daily forward-backward expansion that eventually caused a refrigerant leak.

The solution the Insuguard saddles bring to solve this problem is simple: Allow the insulated pipes to move freely within the saddles! This is possible simply by having a saddle equipped with a clip that perfectly secures it on the strut AND having a non-adhesive surface inside the saddle to facilitate movement of insulated pipes.

pipe-refrigerant-leak-solution
pipe-shield-insuation-refrigeration
refrigeration-insulation-pipe-shield

Origins of refrigerant leak

Condenser: 3%
Coil and evaporator: 48%
Mechanical room: 36%
Piping installation: 13%

** 13% may not seem significant compared to other areas but in fact, they are the most expensive leaks. Here’s why; the difficulties in reaching them and finding where they are**

  • piping in the back of refrigerated case
  • inside ceiling
  • floor tunnel

Therefore, a technician may find a minor leak on a valve, fix it, refill the system with gas thinking the leak came from that point. This is normal, all systems eventually leak. Days later, another service call, same story. Until someone decides to look at hard to reach places. How many pounds of gas were put back in there? how many times? How expensive is that?

Over the past few years in the refrigeration and HVAC industry, the environmental sensitization of the public about the ozone problem and the arrival of new refrigerant gases has had an impact on the decision makers and the performance (specification) they expect from their piping installation. The concern to deliver higher quality jobs is now more present.

The question about piping protection is a concern for all decision makers in engineering departments of corporations needing refrigeration and HVAC. Until now those individuals have had to deal with saddles that did not address the real problem. Insuguard saddles protect the pipes and standardize their piping installations and improve the overall effectiveness of their system.