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What is a Pipe Clamp?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A pipe clamp is used to connect and seal two pieces of round pipe. There are two pipe clamp styles used worldwide. The first is a traditional pipe clamp, which consists of a horseshoe-shaped piece of round stock with threads on each end and a half-round piece of flat stock with holes in each end; the threaded ends of the first piece can pass through and be tightened by a pair of lock nuts. The second type of pipe clamp is a flat band clamp. This type of clamp is used primarily on stainless steel exhaust pipe and is intended to seal the joint without distorting the shape of the pipe. The flat piece of soft stainless steel is wrapped around the connecting pipes at the joint, and a bolt is tightened, fastening the two ends of the pipe clamp together and sealing the connection.

When applying a pipe clamp to an exhaust pipe on a vehicle or in a plumbing application, it is best to never over-tighten the clamp. Doing so can distort the pipe, often resulting in a leak that cannot be sealed. The over-tightened clamp can also create a crushed pipe that will not be able to be separated in the future. The key to a properly sealed clamp is to apply equal pressure to both sides of the clamp and turn the nuts one full turn with a wrench after they become finger tight.

The use of plastic plumbing pipe creates another issue when choosing a pipe clamp. The band-type clamp is the clamp of choice in this application as it will not as easily crush or crack the plastic pipe. If simply using a clamp to hang or support a plastic pipe, a flat cradle clamp is usually the proper choice. It does not surround the pipe, but instead forms a cradle-type support which is suspended from a long, threaded rod attached to a floor or ceiling joist.

Pipe clamps that are subjected to high heat, such as a vehicle's exhaust pipe clamp, should be installed with anti-seize compound applied to the threads of the clamp. This can help ensure that the clamp can be easily removed in the future should the need arise. This is especially helpful on a show-type vehicle's chrome exhaust pipe. The application of anti-seize under the clamp as well as inside of the mating surfaces of the exhaust pipes themselves can also aid in the removal of the system when necessary.

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Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Jan 26, 2012

@shell4life – I have used that type of clamp before. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the old pipe clamp.

If you need to remove it, all you have to do is unscrew one side. You can then replace the pipe and put it back in the same spot.

They come in all different types. Galvanite pipe clamps are available, but I mainly use copper pipe, so I like to have a nice uniform look. So, I use copper pipe clamps.

They are not too much more costly. They just make the job look so much nicer and more professional.

By shell4life — On Jan 25, 2012

I have used several different types of pipe clamps for plumbing jobs that I have done. The best one I have ever used is a clamp that resembles a zip tie.

It comes in two parts. The lower piece screws up to the surface where you want the pipe to be clamped. The second piece just slides up and hooks on either side, and you press it until it's tight and will not release.

It is the easiest thing I have ever used. Press it, leave it, and it is set for life. It's not quite as easy to get off, though, so if you put it on, make sure you put it in the right spot the first time.

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