Bridge Utilities Infrastructure News


The Components of a Utility Pipeline

Posted by Edward Dill on Aug 15, 2018 9:03:00 AM



What Is a Utility Pipeline?

Utility pipelines are the unsung heroes of our modern landscape. Underground (and otherwise obscured) pipeline systems transport unwanted waste water, drinking water, natural gas, crude oil, petroleum products, electricity, and a medley of other common resources. Utility pipelines are interconnected systems which transport materials from Point A to Point B. Depending upon the type of pipeline in consideration, materials, components, and construction methodologies differ. When we consider utility pipelines running under the length of bridges, construction is much simpler when compared to maintaining and constructing state-to-state underground pipeline systems.

Parts of a Utility Pipeline

The components of utility pipelines vary depending upon their environment and purpose. Additionally, the structures said pipelines are affixed to will alter their composition and parts slightly. Pipeline construction is very specific and dependent upon where the bridge will be situated. The types of materials used in pipeline construction are already present. Pipelines closely mirror the bridges they are associated with. The types of elements metals will be exposed to are one of the most crucial considerations to make when choosing materials. The most damaging environment in need of extra measures to combat damage during construction and maintenance is salt air. 

Hangers & Brackets

Hangers are very case specific. Multiple hangers may be leveraged within the same utility pipeline system. For instance, varying hanger lengths may be necessary to complete a single project. Here at Aptus, we offer custom fabrication for specialized solutions. It’s common to require hangers for two inch pipes and then separate solutions for six inch spacing. We can help determine which options are the most cost effective measures without sacrificing performance.


Hangers begin with the pipeline sticking out of the headwall, which is at either end of the bridge, where the concrete holds the structure upright. Typically when the pipe comes through the headwall, we drill holes into the bridge deck to run threaded rods into the bridge deck, which is held in place with adhesive brackets.


After curing, the hanger body is attached to either a circular or flat bracket. Depending upon the pipeline specifications, roller hangers may be installed to allow the pipeline to move. Careful consideration is taken into choosing material types. The temperature of the pipeline’s environment greatly influences the type of material used for construction.

Adhesive Brackets

Adhesive brackets are helpful glue packets used to fill holes and hold pipeline utility components in place. Application includes breaking the package to fill up holes to adhere metals.

Expansion Joints

Crucial in bridge and pipeline design, expansion joints make allowances for thermal expansion of the parts enjoined without distortion. Expansion joints are produced to alleviate stress imposed by structures and edifices. The application of expansion joints is dependent upon materials used. If you’re using a pipe that is comprised of PVC or fiberglass, both matters are hard and brittle– anything that is hot and expanding will shatter both types of pipes when cooling. Pipelines outfitted with expansion joints are stationed with varying male and female parts in 20 foot increments, allowing pipes to slide in and out when temperatures rise and fall.

Anti-Corrosive Coatings

Anti-corrosive coatings protect pipelines from oxidation and mitigate the need for pipeline replacements. Instead, during utility pipeline inspections, anti-corrosive coatings are maintained. This saves bridge owners enormous expenditures and does not impede with surrounding residences, businesses, and traffic patterns.

Pipeline Considerations

Special environmental factors play into additional pipeline components. Your pipelines must be inspected by professionals to avoid preventable damage down the road. Performing regular inspections, especially when taking the following elements into consideration, are part of responsible bridge ownership.

What Elements Are Your Pipelines Exposed To?

Common elements spurring wear and tear to your utility pipeline components include, but are not limited to:


  • Heavy traffic
  • Wildlife
  • Varying temperature and climate conditions
  • Salinity
  • Corrosion
  • Loss of piping integrity

Different Types of Metals Work Better for Varying

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the most cost efficient and high performance metals for pipeline systems. Stainless steel by integrity does not rust and offers intrinsic cathodic protection. The metal includes chromium, manganese, silicon, nickel, and molybdenum. These elements are responsible for creating a sealing film over the metal of stainless steel, forming the basis of its anti-corrosion properties. Heat treatment is typically required to bolster strength and impact resistance. Stainless steel is typically the metal of choice in aesthetic consideration.


Aluminum is a reliable piping offering considerable savings. By nature, aluminum is lightweight and is easy to install when compared to heavier metals. This material is known for its use in fire protection systems, water distribution for residential and commercial buildings, and air piping systems for domestic and industrial utilization. Notably, aluminum heralds anti-corrosion properties.

Galvanized (GI) Steel

Galvanized steel is treated with zinc to provide pipelines with corrosion protection. This is achieved through a lightweight coating. GI steel has a long shelf life, excels in durability, and is typically a low maintenance material. Best positioned for large construction projects, GI steel is resistant to both abrasion and rust and comes in broad and compact configurations to suit any pipeline system specifications. Additionally, GI steel is relatively inexpensive and may extend the frequency in which your pipelines must be inspected.

Go Aptus!

Here at Aptus, we’re dedicated to working with companies, governments, and municipalities to design, install, and maintain the nation’s infrastructure. Working with a certified bridge utility contractor will prevent millions of dollars in damage in the long-run.


We’ve got over 20 years of experience in bridge inspections, engineering, project planning, installations, and utility maintenance. Our expert teams are on call 24/7 to deliver emergency assistance in the event of natural disasters.


To schedule an inspection or request gas pipeline services, contact us today!


Topics: Utility Pipeline