Metal hanger straps are an indispensable tool for securing pipes, ductwork, cables, and more in both residential and commercial settings. Proper installation and maintenance of these straps is key to ensuring structural integrity and safety. This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look at everything you need to know about metal hanger straps.
In any building, an extensive network of pipes, ducts, conduits, and cables runs through walls, ceilings, and crawlspaces. All of these vital systems must be properly supported and secured to prevent damage or detachment. Traditionally, materials like ropes, chains, and simple loops were used to hang these fixtures. However, metal hanger straps provide a much more durable and versatile solution.
Metal hanger straps, also known as pipe hangers or duct hangers, are specially designed straps made of galvanized steel or stainless steel. They wrap around pipes, ducts, or bundles of cables and attach to structural supports like beams or joists. Hanger straps safely bear the weight of fixtures and protect against vibrations and shifts. Using high-quality metal straps ensures critical systems remain intact over many years of use.
What Are Metal Hanger Straps?
Metal hanger straps consist of a metal band or cradle that cradles the pipe, duct, or other fixture. The straps contain holes or slots so they can be securely bolted to structural members above. Hanger straps come in a range of designs and sizes to accommodate different weights and pipe/duct diameters.
Some of the most common types of metal hanger straps include:
- Two-bolt straps – These basic steel straps wrap around the pipe and have two bolt holes to connect to the support. They are available in light, medium, and heavy duty ratings.
- Four-bolt straps – These have two additional bolts on the bottom for extra support needed for very heavy applications.
- Insulated straps – These incorporate rubber or neoprene cushions to prevent abrasion andisolate pipes from vibrations.
- Ceiling strap – Designed to hang vertically from ceilings with support rods.
- Double strap – Uses two straps spaced apart for extra heavy loads.
Hanger straps come in various materials like galvanized steel, electro-galvanized steel, stainless steel, and even copper. The most common finishes are plain steel, electro-plate, and hot dipped galvanized which resists corrosion. Size and load capacity ratings are clearly marked.
Benefits of Using Metal Hanger Straps
Compared to makeshift hanging methods, purpose-built metal hanger straps offer many advantages:
Durability – Metal straps are extremely durable and maintain their strength for decades. Hot-dipped galvanized steel offers corrosion resistance as well. This ensures long-term structural integrity.
Versatility – Hanger straps can be used for a wide range of residential, commercial, and industrial piping and ductwork. Sizes and weight capacities allow customization for the application.
Easy Installation – Straps come with pre-drilled holes for simple bolting to joists above. Installation is straightforward and fast, saving on labor costs.
Cost-Effective – Metal straps represent an affordable solution relative to materials and lifespan. They also eliminate the need for expensive supports like full pipe racks.
Efficiency – With preformed hangers, installations can be streamlined compared to fabricating custom supports. This speeds up construction or repair jobs.
In summary, metal hanger straps provide a strong, adaptable method for suspending mechanical systems of all types. The durability and return on investment make them a wise choice.
Applications of Metal Hanger Straps
Metal hanger straps have become ubiquitous in residential and commercial settings because they suit a diverse range of applications. Here are some of the most common uses:
- Plumbing – Supporting supply and drain pipes, water heaters, etc.
- HVAC – Hanging ductwork, exhaust vents, gas lines.
- Electrical – Securing conduits, junction boxes, cable bundles.
- Dryer vents, range hood ducts, bathroom ventilation.
Commercial & Industrial
- Fire sprinkler mains and branch lines.
- Commercial plumbing and HVAC systems.
- Electrical cable trays, busways, conduit racks.
- Process piping for gases, chemicals, oils.
- Compressed air lines in factories.
- Refrigeration lines in food facilities.
- Steam and condensate returns.
Hanger straps allow fast and economical installation in both new construction and retrofit projects. Building codes mandate proper support for ducts, pipes, and other fixtures. The versatility of metal straps makes them a standard choice across industries.
Installation Guidelines for Metal Hanger Straps
Installing metal hanger straps correctly ensures piping and ductwork remain securely supported for long-term safety and integrity. Here are best practices to follow:
1. Determine Location
- Space hangers according to manufacturer’s recommendations and applicable codes.
- Avoid stress on joints – place straps close to pipe fittings.
- Keep pipe runs aligned by installing directly above hangers below.
2. Install Attachment Points
- Bolt into structure joists or support steel above using lag bolts.
- Pre-drill holes in joists to prevent splitting wood.
- Use load rated toggle bolts for masonry/concrete ceilings.
3. Affix Hanger Straps
- Use properly sized strap to fit pipe or duct snugly.
- Place strap near fitting joints for optimal support.
- Keep strap relatively level with joists to minimize bending force.
- Insert bolts through strap holes and tighten firmly.
4. Allow for Expansion and Contraction
- Leave space between strap and pipe for thermal expansion.
- Bend strap so pipe can slide in cradle without binding.
- Use roller hangers for long vertical runs to allow more movement.
5. Use Correct Fasteners
- Hot dipped galvanized bolts resist corrosion.
- Ensure bolts are long enough to fully engage the joist.
- Use washers to prevent pull-out and protect wood surface.
Proper strap installation prevents undue stress and allows pipes room to expand/contract. Follow all applicable building codes for your area.
Maintenance and Inspection of Metal Hanger Straps
Like any building system component, metal hanger straps require periodic maintenance and inspection. Catching minor issues early prevents potential pipe detachments down the road. Here are some tips for hanger strap maintenance:
- Check for corrosion – Look for rust/oxidation, especially on electroplated straps. Replace any severely corroded hangers.
- Confirm tightness – Verify bolts are still tight. Vibration can loosen connections over time.
- Check for line alignment – Make sure pipes still form a straight line between straps.
- Look for strap damage – Inspect for bending, warping, or cracks in the metal. Damaged straps should be replaced.
- Listen for unusual noise – Noise can indicate a loose strap or pipe fitting.
- Consider preventive replacement – For critical systems, replace straps after ~10 years as preventive maintenance.
Conduct visual inspections annually throughout the facility. Check a sampling of straps to represent all systems. Notify facility managers of any straps in need of replacement.
Proactive maintenance helps avoid catastrophic strap failures. It also provides an opportunity to upgrade older pipe supports to meet current mechanical codes. Be on the lookout for corrosion, misalignment, and any safety issues.
While very durable, metal hanger straps do have some environmental impacts to note:
- Raw material extraction – Iron, nickel, and chromium mining processes have impacts like habitat destruction, contamination risks, and resource use.
- Energy consumption – Metal production in furnaces consumes high amounts of electricity and fossil fuels.
- Air emissions – Smelting and refining metals produces sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and other pollution.
- Recyclability – On the positive side, steel straps are highly recyclable at end of life.
Fortunately, some strategies help reduce the eco-footprint:
- Use recycled content – Straps made with recycled scrap steel have lower impacts.
- Choose local suppliers – Source straps manufactured regionally to reduce transport miles.
- Buy only needed quantities – Calculate requirements carefully to avoid waste and extra production.
- Reuse existing straps – When replacing old straps, reuse any in good condition.
While not flawless, conscientious sourcing and installation of metal straps does offer some sustainability benefits.
Choosing the Right Metal Hanger Strap
With such a wide variety of metal hanger straps available, it’s crucial to select the proper style and size for each application. Keep these key factors in mind when choosing straps:
- Straps must wrap snugly around the fixture – measure outer diameter.
- Allow for insulation thickness on insulated pipes or ducts.
- Oversize heavy straps for bundles of pipes or cables.
- Determine total weight including contents when full.
- Choose a strap rated for at least 1.5x the working load.
- Use extra heavy duty straps for weights exceeding recommended limits.
- Galvanized or stainless steel for wet/corrosive environments.
- Electroplated steel straps work for dry indoor uses.
- Plastic coated straps prevent abrasion of soft copper tubing.
- Comply with maximum spacing in local mechanical codes.
- Place hangers just outside joints to reduce stress.
- Reduce spacing for vertical runs or extra heavy pipes.
Also evaluate factors like hanger style, location, and installation method. Consulting manufacturer sizing charts helps narrow down the ideal hanger strap. Proper strap selection reduces the risk of detachment while providing optimal support.
From residential plumbing to industrial equipment, metal hanger straps provide a versatile and durable solution for suspending pipes, ducts, conduits, and more. When installed correctly using the proper size and style, metal straps safely bear system loads for decades while resisting corrosion. They allow faster, more economical installations compared to fabricating custom racks and supports.
With routine inspection and maintenance, critical facility infrastructure remains properly supported over the lifetime of the building. By following the guidelines and best practices outlined here, facility managers can optimize their use of metal hanger straps across applications. Careful pipe and duct hanging with quality metal straps prevents dangerous detachments and maintains the integrity of mechanical systems.
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