Pipe Marking – 7 Things You Should Know

Pipe Marking Labels

Does your facility have pipes? If so, those pipes need labels. While pipe labeling may seem like a confusing process with many requirements, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Starting with a plan will make your pipe-labeling project easier and more organized. Then once your facility’s pipes are labeled, you’ll see communication about pipes improve. Using visuals like labels makes communication direct and simple, and it reduces the need for asking questions about pipe contents. 

Before you begin marking pipes, you should understand the basics of pipe marking. Take a look at these seven things you should know before you begin the pipe-marking process. 

1. Workers Need to See Pipe Labels, and So Do Emergency Personnel 

Labeling pipes will primarily help your workers and any maintenance personnel who may need to service pipes. Therefore, you’ll want to keep this main audience in mind when you establish your pipe labeling system. 

It’s possible you’ll have additional people who enter your facility and need to know what’s in your pipes, though. In an emergency situation like a fire, emergency responders may need to know which pipes contain fire-quenching liquids. If an accident involving a pipe containing chemicals occurs, an emergency response team would quickly need to know what chemicals it’s dealing with. Because these additional members of the community may be reading your pipe labels, it’s important to follow industry standards for pipe labeling instead of having an internal system that only your workers understand. 

2. Colors Should Be Standardized 

Pipe Marking, Pipe Labels

To make it easy for workers, emergency responders and other pertinent personnel to read and understand pipe labels, the labels should be color-coded according to the ANSI/AMSE 13.1 standard. The standard assigns six main colors for pipe contents:

  • Yellow Background with Black Text – Flammable Fluids & Gasses
  • Red Background with White Text – Fire-Quenching Fluids
  • Orange Background with Black Text – Toxic or Corrosive Fluids & Gasses
  • Green Background with White Text – All Water
  • Blue Background with White Text – All Air
  • Brown Background with White Text – Combustible Fluids & Gasses

Four additional colors exist that facilities can assign as needed:

  • Purple Background with White Text
  • Black Background with White Text
  • White Background with Black Text
  • Gray Background with Black Text 

These standardized colors are recognized across many industries and make it possible for people familiar with pipes to know what kind of substance is inside a pipe without even needing to read the label’s text. 

Pipe Labels, Pipe Marking

3. Dimensions Matter 

Pipe labels must be large enough that they get noticed. This means they need to be larger on larger pipes so they are not overlooked. As you can see in the chart below, the required length of a label depends on the diameter of a pipe, as does the height of the text on that label. Follow these guidelines when ordering or printing your pipe labels so your labels are the appropriate sizes. 

4. Some Locations Are Required 

Pipe Labels, Pipe Marking

ANSI/ASME standards state that pipe labels should be placed in four main locations. On straight sections of pipe, they need to be placed every 25 to 50 feet. Labels also need to be placed at all changes in direction, on both sides of entry points through walls and floors and next to all valves and flanges. Remember that at a minimum labels need to be placed in these locations. You may find that your facility would be more easily navigated with additional labels because of the locations of machinery, shelving or other equipment that might reduce pipe visibility. 

5. Placement on Pipes Increases Visibility 

Pipe Labels, Pipe Marking

Once you know which pipes need labels and where those labels need to be located, applying a label should be pretty straightforward. Don’t forget, though, that you’ll want to place labels on pipes at angles that are easily readable from an employee’s line of sight. 

If a person enters a room and looks up at a pipe on the ceiling, the best place for the label might not be exactly on the bottom or side of the pipe. Placing a label below the pipe’s centerline could make it easiest for the person to read the label. Consider which angles will be most appropriate for your facility. 

6. Labels Need to Hold Up to Pipe Conditions 

Pipe Labels, Pipe Marking

Some pipes in your facility may be very hot, very cold or occasionally exposed to chemicals. Others might be subjected to UV rays constantly. Many labels can withstand these harsh conditions, and if you print labels yourself, you can purchase a durable label supply that will work well for most pipe marking situations. 

If you do have pipes that get extremely hot (or face other extreme conditions), purchase a label material suited to the job. High temperature label supply, for example, is ideal for labeling hot pipes. 

7. Making Labels Yourself Might Be Most Economical 

Label Printing, Pipe Labels

As mentioned above, it’s possible to order pre-made pipe labels or print them yourself. In most cases, printing labels yourself will save you money in the long run, especially if you need to create labels for a large facility. Industrial label printers can make the pipe-labeling task easy, and if you run out of labels or need to create unique labels, you’ll have no problem doing so. For example, if your workplace decides to assign specific uses for purple or gray labels, you’ll easily be able to make these labels on-site. 

For help beginning a pipe-marking project, download this free guide or take a look at the infographic below. 

pipe labeling illustration
Image: Creative Safety Supply – Click to see entire graphic.


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