Pipe Support Span for Aboveground Piping

Pipe Support Span is defined as the optimum distance between two supports so as to avoid excessive stress, sagging or failure of the piping system in extreme cases. We all know that while routing aboveground piping or pipeline from one part or equipment to other we have to support the pipe at some places. Properly designed pipe support span helps the piping personnel to support pipes at regular intervals, thus reducing his work for unnecessary calculations. Refer to Fig. 1.

Factors on Which Pipe Support Span Depends

There are various factors which influences the pipe support span. Pipe support span varies with changes in

  • Pipe Material
  • Nominal Diameter Of Pipe & Schedule
  • Type of service
  • Type and Thickness of Insulation Material
Figure showing pipe support span
Fig. 1: Figure showing pipe support span

Deciding Pipe Support Span

Pipe Support Span Length Depends On-

  • Bending Stress
  • Deflection
  • Indentation
  • Allowable Loads

Bending Stress

Bending is caused mainly due to two reasons:

  • Uniform Weight Load
  • Concentrated Weight Load

Uniform Weight Load

  • Own Weight Of Pipe
  • Insulation Weight
  • Weight of Fluid During operation
  • Weight of hydrostatic fluid During Hydro Test

Concentrated Load

  • Weight Of Valve, Flanges,
  • Strainer, specialty items, inline items, etc.


Deflection (Δ) is defined as a relative displacement of the point from its original position.

  • The basic piping practice to limit pipe deflection between supports to 1” or 1/2 the nominal pipe diameter, whichever is the smaller.
  • The most important reason for limiting deflection is to make the pipe stiff enough, that is , of high enough natural frequency, to avoid large amplitude response under any slight perturbing force. As a rough rule, for average piping, a natural frequency of 4 cycles per second will be found satisfactory. The natural frequency can be calculated by
Natural Frequency




  • t=corroded Thickness of pipe Wall(mm)
  • S=0.67Sh(N/mm^2)
  • R=Radius of pipe (mm)
  • d=Bearing Length(mm)
  • b=Bearing width(mm)

Allowable Load at Support

Allowable Load


  • Pa=Allowable Load at the Support point
  • t=effective local thickness (pipe wall +Reinforced Pad If Any)
  • R=outer radius of Pipe
  • b=Bearing length of pipe (along the axis) on the support structure


Normally project-specific Support Span is provided in tabular format for straight pipes that is known as “Pipe Support Span Chart”. But for elbows or turns the span to be reduced by a factor as shown in the below-attached figure (Fig. 2). Readymade support spans for specific pipe diameter and thickness are available in MSS code. For Shell group of companies’ support span is provided in DEP in tabular format.

Factor to reduce support span depending on layout.
Fig. 2: Factor to reduce support span depending on layout.

Pipe Support Span Chart

Pipe support span chart is a tabular chart giving a rough idea of supporting distance. These charts are normally mentioned in piping stress analysis project specifications. In the following image (Fig. 3) pipe support span chart from MSS SP-69 is reproduced as a sample.

Sample Piping Support Span Chart (Reference: MSS SP-69)
Fig. 3: Sample Piping Support Span Chart (Reference: MSS SP-69)

Few more resources for you…

Supporting of Piping Systems: Few GuidelinesOpens in a new tab.
Supporting of Dual Insulated Piping SystemOpens in a new tab.
Purpose of Pipe Supports: A small article for beginnersOpens in a new tab.
Piping Stress AnalysisOpens in a new tab.
Piping Design and layoutOpens in a new tab.

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Anup Kumar Dey

I am a Mechanical Engineer turned into a Piping Engineer. Currently, I work in a reputed MNC as a Senior Piping Stress Engineer. I am very much passionate about blogging and always tried to do unique things. This website is my first venture into the world of blogging with the aim of connecting with other piping engineers around the world.

6 thoughts on “Pipe Support Span for Aboveground Piping

  1. hi all,
    with respect to Pa (allowable load at spport) where Sh is “hot allowable stress” or “Bending stress got from caesar software”

  2. ost but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Thanks!

  3. Pipe span we will calculate based on which allowable stress, which is defined in ASME B31. 3.
    I want more details for manual calculation for pipe stress or force calculation. Do you have any reference please share

  4. Question,

    i have 12 dia. Schedule 10 Stainless Steel pipe. this is only air going thru the pipe at approx. 250 deg. F.

    I am supporting this above ground and would like to support approx. 30 feet only one section.

    I can not find any information about supporting Sch. 10 Stainless Steel Pipe. Can you give me any assistance

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