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Piping System Spring Can Maintenance

spring can inspections

Industrial Access rope access technician at work inspecting and adjusting a pipe support spring can.

What is a “spring can”, and what does it have to do with pipe?   Simply put, a spring can is a device used in piping support systems that helps them to function properly under the stresses caused by variations in temperature (in thermal stress), weight (from material moving through the pipeline when it’s in operation) and other factors such as wind and even earthquakes.

One of the significant design challenges that piping systems designers face is where to locate the various pipe hangars required to support a piping system.  Design considerations include the characteristics of the pipe itself, its changes in dimension and weight while in operation, and locations in structure where they can be attached for support.

Spring Can Replacement and RepairSo how can rope access services help plants keep spring cans in proper operating condition?  Because the location of pipe supports is often a process of compromise during design, spring cans can often end up in not-so-accessible locations in the plant.  Designing an entire plant for easy personnel access to every component is simply not practical.  So, there are limited options for plant operators to ensure that piping support systems stay in good repair when they are impossible to access from the ground or from fixed ladders or platforms.  Trained rope access technicians are able to rig, access, and service spring cans without the expense of scaffolding or personnel lifts.

Spring Can Inspections & Repair via Rope AccessThe importance of a well-maintained pipe support system includes both reliability and safety factors.  Thermal stress from the increase in temperature from cold to hot condition causes metal to expand or “grow.”  if not properly allowed for in design, pipe movement that causes excessive stress against supports could cause leaks or potentially even major ruptures.  In high pressure systems, or systems conveying hazardous high-temperature, combustible, corrosive or toxic substances, the risk of a leak of any magnitude poses an immediate threat to health and safety.

After the installation of piping systems, spring cans are adjusted to a particular position for the pipe’s “cold” (non-operating) condition.  Technicians work from end-to-end along a piping run to make sure all the spring cans are calibrated consistently.  Once operations begin or resume, the spring cans are re-checked and adjusted to the proper operating position for the “hot” conditions.

Typical of the maintenance and repairs needed on spring cans in addition to calibration are replacement of position indicator markers and nameplates (equipment tags) that may be damaged or wear out with service.

Rope Access Spring Can InspectionsIndustrial Access provides a wide range of multi-craft rope access services to process, power, paper, manufacturing and other industrial and institutional markets across the United States.  Does your plant or facility have a particular high-elevation challenge that seems accessible only with extensive scaffolding?  Call Industrial Access and let us evaluate if rope access services may offer a safe, more cost-effective and schedule-friendly alternative.

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