A piping system is a network of pipes, fittings and valves intended to perform a specific job i.e. to carry or transfer fluids from one equipment to another. The plumbing network supplying water at your home is a common example of a piping system. Other more rigorous examples include steam piping in a power plant, milk piping in a dairy, paint piping in a paint manufacturing plant, oil piping in a refinery, so and so forth.
Components of a Piping System
The most common components of a piping system are pipes, fittings and valves.
Pipes: Pipes are long cylinders used to carry or transfer fluids. The most common fluids are water, oil, steam, air, milk or finished products like paints, juices. Other uncommon examples include pulp, acids, alkalies, chemicals etc.
Pipe Fittings: Pipe fittings are used to connect lengths of pipes to construct a long piping system; commonly used fittings are flanges, elbows, tees, reducers, expansion bellows etc.
Valves: Valves are used to stop, divert or control fluid flow. Common valve types are gate valves, globe valves, butterfly valves, ball valves, control valves; the selection is based on intended function and application.
In addition, a number of devices like strainers, traps, expansion loops are necessary for keeping the fluid clean and in good condition, and to accommodate expansion/contraction due to temperature variations.
Material for Piping Systems
Piping system may consist of a variety of materials including mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, glass or plastic. Usually, pipe fittings and valves are made of the same material as the pipe. The material selection as well as pipe sizing depends upon parameters like nature of fluid, pressure, temperature and flow rate.