A Guide to Plumbing Pipe Supports

Here’s a look at their critical role, proper hanger spacing and key types

A Guide to Plumbing Pipe Supports

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Whether securing to or supporting a pipe below the wall, ceiling or floor, supports such as hangers, clamps, brackets, and hooks are essential to complete a job.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.

Why proper plumbing pipe supports are necessary

It keeps piping systems secure

Don’t underestimate the weight of pipes, no matter the material or type of system. Also, remember that supply pipes are constantly under pressure to help ensure water flows from faucets.

The bottom line: An improperly supported system could result in pipes crashing through a wall or down from a ceiling, hurting someone or causing damage to the building, or both. 

Additionally, if there is a backup in a drain pipe, you're looking at a lot of weight. If your piping system wasn't properly secured or hung, especially in a multi-level building, the backup will have to go somewhere at some point, and the pipe may come apart. That could result in drywall damage or — even more serious — water damage. 

Another major consideration is the danger associated with improperly supported gas lines. The last thing you want are sagging gas lines generating extra stress on a connection. If that joint breaks and fails, you will have a natural gas leak that could result in life-threatening explosions. 

It reduces movement

Using pipe supports effectively will also help reduce noise in DWV systems or water hammer in supply systems.  

While water hammer is audible, the sound can be deceiving. It’s not easy to pinpoint the exact location of the issue. The sound may appear to be coming from the valve area, but it could be the result of an unsecured pipe within the wall cavity. 

Water hammer can be absorbed by any unsecured lines, resulting in partial-to-extreme movement — creating contact with adjacent surfaces. Pipes should be adequately supported and/or insulated to prevent touching any of the surrounding building materials. Pipe insufficiently secured will move and cause a knocking or vibrating sound when coupled with even the slightest amount of water hammer. 

Requirements to prevent potential failures

Carefully consider support location and type. Plumbing codes require that all piping and the contents inside be supported in such a way that the pipe maintains alignment and doesn’t sag. 

Plumbing codes typically require hangers and strapping materials be made of an approved material that will not promote galvanic action. Of course, they must also be of sufficient strength to support the weight of the pipes and their contents. 

Always attach hangers and anchors to walls in accordance with local plumbing codes. In addition, provide sway bracing at directional changes more than 45 degrees for pipe sizes 4 inches and larger. 

A sway brace is recommended for controlling vibration, absorbing shock loadings, guiding or restraining the movement of pipe resulting from thermal expansion, and — as the name indicates — bracing a pipe line against sway. Use anchors to restrain drainage pipes from axial movement. 

Intervals of support

Support spacing should follow applicable plumbing and building codes. Here are the maximum horizontal and vertical spacing for Schedule 40 PVC and ABS, CPVC, copper and PEX, based on the IAPMO Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the International Plumbing Code (IPC). However, these are general guidelines to serve only as a reference. Engineering specifications for a particular project may require specific installation instructions.

  • Schedule 40 PVC and ABS: Most plumbing and building codes require support for horizontal Schedule 40 PVC and ABS pipelines every 4 feet for any pipe diameter, allowing for expansion every 30 feet.

    UPC states that vertical spacing for ABS piping should provide a mid-story guide as well as for expansion every 30 feet. IPC states maximum vertical spacing of ABS is 10 feet. For sizes 2 inches and smaller, a guide should be installed midway between the required vertical supports. Such guides will prevent pipe movement in a direction perpendicular to the axis of the pipe.
  • CPVC: Most plumbing and building codes require support for horizontal CPVC pipelines 1 inch and smaller every 3 feet; for diameters 1 1/4 inch and greater, every 4 feet.

    UPC states that vertical spacing for CPVC piping should provide a mid-story guide and for expansion every 30 feet. IPC designates maximum vertical spacing of CPVC is 10 feet. For sizes 2 inches and smaller, a guide should be installed midway between required vertical supports. Such guides will prevent pipe movement in a direction perpendicular to the axis of the pipe.
  • Copper: Most plumbing and building codes require support for horizontal copper pipelines 1 1/4 inch and smaller every 6 feet. IPC indicates supports every 10 feet for diameters 1 1/2 inch and greater; UPC, every 10 feet for diameters 2 inches and greater. UPC and IPC both call for vertical spacing not to exceed 10 feet.
  • PEX: IPC requires support for horizontal PEX pipelines 1 1/4 inch and smaller every 2.67 feet, or 32 inches. UPC requires the same spacing support for pipelines 1 inch and smaller, and every 4 feet for 1 1/4 inch and larger diameters.

    IPC states maximum vertical spacing for PEX is 10 feet. For sizes 2 inches and smaller, a guide should be installed midway between the required vertical supports. Once again, such guides will prevent pipe movement in a direction perpendicular to the axis of the pipe. UPC states that vertical spacing for PEX piping should provide a mid-story guide and provide for expansion every 30 feet.

Different types of pipe support hangers

The appropriate pipe support for a given piping system depends on the pipe material itself. 

  • Water supply pipe is Copper Tube Size (CTS).
  • Gas and drain pipes are considered Iron Pipe Size (IPS). 

To break it down, a 1-inch piece of copper or CPVC pipe is going to require a different hanger type and size than a comparable piece of gas pipe because of factors like wall thickness, diameter, and load (weight of the piping).

Here are some examples of the many plumbing pipe support hanger options for DWV and supply line hangers we have at Oatey, and how they are best utilized.  

DWV hangers

Used to secure to or support pipes below the wall, ceiling or floor, DWV hangers include J-Hooks, Hanger Straps, Cable Conduit, Duct Ties, etc.

  • Oatey DWV J-Hooks are used to secure drain piping, allowing for expansion and contraction. They can be used on Schedule 30 and 40 piping to support DWV piping from joists and rafters. With multiple nail holes for attachment to pipe runs at various angles, its unique diagonal nail holes allow for easy attachment in tight areas. 
  • Oatey Metal Hanger Straps are a quick and inexpensive way to hang pipe from joists or rafters and are available in 24- and 28-gauge steel. Alternating nail holes speed installation.

  • Oatey Interlocking Metal Hanger Straps support copper, CPVC and PEX water supply lines from joists and rafters. The Interlocking Metal Hanger Straps are self-fastening, so no nuts or bolts are required.
  • Oatey Universal Pipe Hangers are used to suspend pipe from framing. The strap adjusts to accommodate 1- to 6-inch-diameter pipe, and the orientation of the strap can be reversed based on installation needs. Straight and angeled nail hole patterns accommodate tough installation angles. They meet ASTM requirements and are APMO approved.

Supply hangers (CTS)

  • Oatey Full Clamps with Nails, designed with a preloaded nail, allow for fast and easy push-on installation for all types of CTS piping. The patented removal wedge and notch allow for clamp removal when you need it. With a complete standoff from the surface, tubing can expand and contract with 360-degree pipe protection.
  • Oatey Half Clamp Suspension Pipe Clamps, for use on plumbing and hydronic systems, eliminate contact between the pipe and framing surface to reduce the transmission of waterline noise. Its ribbed design allows faster cooling and pipe expansion and contraction. 
  • Oatey Insulating Pipe Clamps, for use on plumbing and hydronic systems, are designed to eliminate pipe notching and wrapping when running waterlines through framing. Made of durable polypropylene to eliminate corrosion, Insulating Pipe Clamps can handle a temperature range of zero to 180 degrees F. Its ribbed design allows faster cooling and pipe expansion and contraction, and it also reduces waterline noise and vibration. Oatey CTS Bell Hangers offer light-duty support standoff of pipe or copper tubing from a wall or object. It includes two clamping screws and one mounting screw, and is designed with a 13/16-inch standoff from the mounting surface. The recessed mounting screw, with a piercing point for use on metal studs, does not contact the piping.
  • Oatey CTS J-Hooks, made of high-impact ABS, provide a fast, easy and economical way to secure supply lines from joists and rafters, with 50 pounds as a safe working load. For use with copper, PEX, CPVC and other CTS-sized piping, these J-Hooks allow system expansion and contraction, while allowing nails to sit flush against a wall or stud.

About the Author

Sean Comerford is a technical applications manager at Oatey Co. He is a third-generation tradesman with nearly 20 years of plumbing experience, including serving as the lead plumber for commercial/residential new construction, service and fire protection jobs. He can be reached at technical@oatey.com.



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