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Benefits and Problems
with ANSI A13.1

free ansi pipe marking
ANSI Standards for Pipe Marking

Written by Steve Hudgik

Benefits Of ANSI A13.1 Pipe Marking

The ANSI A13.1 pipe marking standard is the pipe marking standard that applies to most facilities. Although ANSI can not enforce the use of the A13.1 standard, and OSHA only requires compliance for a few industries, because of the huge safety benefits of complying with ANSI A13.1 its use is, in effect, required by OSHA through the General Duty Clause.

What are the benefits of ANSI A13.1 pipe marking?

It starts with safety. Not being fully aware of the materials carried by pipes, and their associated hazards, can lead to major equipment damage and accidents. Significant environmental accidents, as well as accidents that have injured or killed workers, have resulted simply because a wrong valve was opened (or closed) or by cutting into the wrong pipe.

Labeling of some valves is required by ANSI A13.1

The code defines valves as being part of the piping system. Thus, since the ANSI pipe marking standards cover piping systems, this includes valves. However, it does not make sense to label all valves indiscriminately. This could actually be counterproductive and result in confusion. Use valve tags to label isolation valves and control valves. However, valves that cannot be actuated from outside the pipe, or for which the function is obvious, typically are not labeled. Examples would be check valves, plumbing fixture faucets, shut off valves at plumbing fixtures, and interior and exterior hose bibs.

Valves must be marked using the same color coding and text as pipes. In most cases the valve shape does not allow a self-adhesive label to be used, so a valve tag is attached to the valve body. Never attach a valve tag to a hand-wheel, actuator or valve stem.

With valves properly labeled in compliance with ANSI A13.1, operators and emergency personnel will be able top identify the valve and know - for sure - whether they are operating the correct valve.

In addition to valve tags, pipe labels are critical for finding and operating the correct valve. To shut off the flow of material through a pipe requires going upstream and closing the upstream valve. ANSI compliant pipe markers include arrows showing the direction of flow, making it simple to determine the upstream direction.

ANSI A13.1 pipe markers improve efficiency and reduce costs

Having pipes clearly marked in compliance with ANSI A13.1 allows plant staff to quickly and easily find pipes and valves. When instruments need to be calibrated or samples taken, pipe markers help staff find the right locations and eliminate the need to trace pipes. ANSI pipe markers also help to reduce maintenance outages and cut repair time. Maintenance staff and contractors can quickly find locations within piping systems and perform needed maintenance or repairs – with the assurance they are working on the correct pipe or valve.

Pipe marker quality impacts pipe marker benefits

Having pipe markers that are in compliance with ANSI A13.1 is actually the second step of maximizing the benefits resulting from pipe markers. Before you make your pipe markers, you need to ensure you are making quality, durable pipe markers. That means having a DuraLabel label printer.

DuraLabel printers make both pipe markers and valve tags, and printing them is quick and easy. But, what is needed are pipe markers that are durable and long-lasting. That's exactly what you get with DuraLabel. Pipe markers made with DuraLabel vinyl, the most common labeling material used for pipe markers, are warrantied to last five years. No other label printer brand even offers a warranty on the actual pipe marker labels. Tough tested DuraLabel supplies are the only labeling supplies that can give you this assurance of long life. Not only that, DuraLabel printers are warrantied for three years. No other printer has that type of warranty. That's because DuraLabel quality stands out above all others. And that means you get long-lasting, quality pipe markers when you use DuraLabel printers and supplies.

Problems With ANSI A13.1 Pipe Marking

The ANSI A13.1 pipe marking standard is simple. There are rarely problems with complying with ANSI A13.1. However, at times there may be questions.

ANSI A13.1 Pipe Marking Problems - What is the color code for steam?

The following is the pipe marking color coding specified in ANSI A13.1:

  • Fire-quenching fluids - White text on red
  • Toxic and corrosive fluids - Black text on orange
  • Flammable fluids - Black text on yellow
  • Combustible fluids - White text on brown
  • Potable, cooling, boiler feed, and other water - White text on green
  • Compressed air - White text on blue

Where do steam pipes fit into this?

This is a pipe marking problem. Some facilities use yellow for steam pipe markers because yellow indicates caution and steam presents a hazard. Others use green because steam is evaporated water. Whether you use yellow or green is up to you. However, pick one color and stick with it throughout your facility.

Pipe Marking Color Reference Guide

A complete reference guide to Pipe Marking

ANSI A13.1 Pipe Marking Problems - What if the pipe is less than 3/4 inch in diameter - too small for a pipe marker label?

The same DuraLabel tags as used for valves should be used for small pipes and tubing that can not be labeled with a pipe marker.

Pipe Marker Installation Issues Are The Biggest Problems

The biggest problems with ANSI A13.1 pipe marking have nothing to do with the requirements of ANSI A13.1. The problems are encountered when trying to apply pipe markers or with pipe marker durability.

Pipe Marking Problem - Difficult to reach pipes: Is it necessary to place labels on difficult to reach pipes?

What OSHA will look at is whether pipe markers have been used to communicate safety and hazard information where it is needed. Outside of pulp and paper mills OSHA does not have specific pipe marking requirements. So the question is, are pipe markers needed in those hard to reach areas in order to ensure safety? If the answer is no, and you can document for OSHA that they are not needed for safety, then you do not need to place pipe markers in those locations. However, keep in mind that justifying to yourself that the pipe markers are not needed for safety is not sufficient, you must be able to demonstrate to OSHA that all potential hazards were evaluated and the pipe markers in those locations would not have contributed to safety in any way.

Pipe Marking Problem - Pipe markers subjected to harsh environments and chemical wash-downs don't last:

This is an issue of selecting the right materials for your pipe markers. Pipe marker durability problems are easily solved if you have a DuraLabel printer. DuraLabel has more that 50 types of supplies available. You can always get the right supply for the job.

Pipe marker durability in a harsh environment depends on the the harsh environment. DuraLabel has labeling materials available that are resistant to harsh chemicals, or weathering, or extreme temperatures. Call 1-888-326-9244 and talk with a DuraLabel representative to get the right labeling material for the locations in which you need pipe labels.

Pipe Marking Problem - Pipes that cannot be cleaned:

Ordinarily the surface should be thoroughly cleaned before a label is applied to a pipe. However, in some cases this may not be possible or the cost may be prohibitive.

DuraLabel has a number of solutions.

Label materials are available that can be applied to oily surfaces, low energy plastic pipe, or rusty surfaces, and you'll have durable, long-lasting labels. Another option is to use Pipe Grabber pipe marking sleeves. These are pre-coiled plastic sleeves that snap into place around the pipe. A pipe marker can be applied to the Pipe Grabber and then the Pipe Grabber easily placed on the difficult to label pipe. No problems or hassles. DuraLabel makes your job easy.

For more information about DuraLabel printers and problem solving pipe marker supplies, call 1-888-326-9244. While you are on the phone ask about the special DuraLabel pipe marker kits.


The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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