C-Port

Lifespan of Rubber, Plastic & Wood Rooftop Pipe Supports

So, you are looking at the best way to install and secure your pipes to your new flat roof. Should you go with a rubber support that is ecofriendly? Perhaps a plastic support will be sufficient for your situation. There is always the old was of supporting your pipes with some 4”x4” wood block, so which do you choose? We need to take a few factors into consideration when making this decision and the lifecycle of the product will be one of these. 

Wood  

The average life span for a 4”x4” wood support is 10-15 years. 

Let us start off with the original pipe support, which is typically the 4” x 4” wood block. These must be the cheapest, right? Not quite. Wood pipe supports were the go-to support for many years. Since then, newer products have been invented and manufactured and they have a much longer lifespan as well as other advantages making wood an afterthought to most contractors. 

 This just in, wood floats, which is a serious problem on flat commercial rooftops. Water will flow to the designated drainage areas and if the pipe is in line with the direction that the water is flow, the wood pipe support can float down to one end. This can leave dozens of feet of pipe unsupported and at risk of being damaged.

Rotting Wood pipe supports

 In the past 20 years, the use of wood block has declined exceptionally. One major reason that this is has happened is because the time it takes to prepare these supports, is not worth the contractor’s time. The materials to complete this are lower, however it is much more laborious, and time consuming to prepare, build and install them. Because of this, wood may not be the cheapest solution to supporting your pipes anymore. 

 The manufacturing process of plastic and rubber supports have become so efficient that it is typically cheaper to purchase these and have them shipped to site to install them then to go pick up some 4×4’s, cut them to length, weatherproof them with a creosote or another chemical, even if you are going to send the apprentice. Also, if you are installing a brand-new commercial roof, the last thing you want to see on top of that expensive new roof is a bunch of wood blocks holding up the pipes.

Plastic 

The average life span for a plastic pipe support is 15 years. 

 The plastic pipe support has been around for close to 25 years in North America. Plastic pipe supports have the perception that they are lighter and cheaper than some of the alternatives. This has drawn a customer base to them over the past two decades. However, not all plastic pipe supports are created equal. 

 Many plastic pipe supports are mold injected, which can make edges sharp which is a problem with single ply membrane roofs because it increases the risk for roof membrane puncture. Because of this, some of the plastic manufacturers have resorted to having some type of pad underneath the plastic support. 

 One type of protection pad for a plastic support is made of Styrofoam. The advantages are that it is a lightweight addition which solves the problem of possible punctures in the roof membrane. The downside to this is that the Styrofoam can have a chemical reaction to certain chemicals, which includes some of the chemicals in roofing membranes. Because of this, there has been a thin layer of foil on the bottom of the Styrofoam to protect from any chemical reactions. 

 While the foam seems like a great light solution, the problems arise when being outside for extended periods of time.  The foam floats, this creates a similar problem that wood pipe supports have because they can float down the pipe and bunch up at one end, causing tens of feet of pipe to go unsupported. The other issue that comes from this design is that the Styrofoam is not tough, so it has been known to detach from the support, causing a cooking cutter. 

Rubber 

The average life span for a Rubber pipe support is 25+ years. 

Like plastic, rubber supports have been in the market for the past 25 years. These have been feasible to use as an alternative because of the recycled content of the raw materials. Unlike plastic, many of the rubber pipe supports that you will see are made from 100% recycled rubber. 

Governments give grants because private companies are coming up with new and innovative ways to use what was once a major trash problem, referring to the discarded tire problem. The recycled rubber support is a true green alternative to both plastic and rubber. But what other advantages does rubber have over plastic? 

Since there is typically no need to use a supplementary pad between a rubber support and the roof membrane (unless requested by a roofing consultant or engineer), rubber has an advantage over the other two alternatives. You only need to install ONE product as opposed to two – being the support and the supplementary pad. 

Since rubber does not float, the support will stay where you place it, so you do not need to worry about pipe being unsupported after a large rainfall or melting in the spring. The binder that holds the rubber crumb together is UV stable so the sun will not erode the product and cause it to crumble or fall apart. 

At Clearline Technologies, we have decades of experience in designing and manufacturing rooftop pipe supports that will not only do the job intended but also outlast the roof that they are being installed on. From roller supports to crossovers and rooftop walkways, out team can work with you to design the perfect system for you. Check out our full line of supports below or give us a call at 866-444-0009.  

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