October 2005

Engineering Case Histories

Case 29: Pressure buildup in a 'blocked-in' pipe

Liquid thermal expansion can rupture pipes

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

When troubleshooting steel piping failures, a pipe burst from what initially appears to be over-pressurization can sometimes be observed. Fig. 1 shows this " fish mouth" type of rupture. Normally in troubleshooting such failures, the investigators would review or look for: Corrosion and pitting-related problems Poor-quality piping, gouging porosity or bad welds Procedural or control problems that led to over-pressurization Hydraulic surge External loads that increase pipe stress Deflagration or detonation within the pipe

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