The Most Effective Way to Label Pipes

The Most Effective Way to Label Pipes

Labeling pipes may sound like a simple job at first, but once you really think about it, you’ll see that it is actually more complicated than you might expect. In addition, if you don’t do it properly you could be out of compliance with regulators and have to redo it again anyway. This is why it is so important to plan out this project ahead of time and make sure you execute it properly.

Read through how this project should be approached for success. Once you read through these steps, you will be able to customize them to your own facility to help ensure you get the exact results you are looking for when you are ready to label pipes.

Planning the Pipe Labeling

Before you even purchase one label, you want to make sure you have everything planned out and ready to go. Since most facilities have many pipes going throughout the facility, you will likely want to start by finding a diagram of the facility and identify where each pipe is and what it is used to transport.

Once you have the diagram available, go through these steps to make sure you have a smart plan prepared:

  • Count Types of Pipes – Each type of pipe in your facility will need its own type of labels, so writing down each type of pipe ahead of time is essential.
  • Number of Labels per Pipe – You need to identify how many labels each pipe will need. Remember, you need to have one label at least every 50 feet, plus labels at each turn or when it goes through a wall. Count up the total number for each pipe so you can be sure you have enough when starting to label the pipes.
  • Designing Labels – Some pipes will need to have specific information on them in order to comply with OSHA or ANSI regulations. Others, however, will be left largely to your discretion. Make sure you know what information you want on each pipe and double check that it meets all the requirements.
  • Application Equipment – If your pipes are high up in the ceiling like they are in many facilities, make sure you plan out how you will safely access them. If you don’t have a catwalk that can be used, you may need to rent a lift of some sort. Having any necessary fall protection equipment is also essential.
  • Ordering Label Stock – Assuming you will be printing your own labels, make sure you have enough of the right stock. If you have to label pipes that carry hot liquids, for example, you need to have high temperature label stock.
  • Pipe Cleaning Products – You will want to be able to clean the pipes before applying the labels, so make sure you have the right products available to use.

This first step may seem time consuming, but in the long run it will be well worth it. Knowing what you are going to do and how it needs to be done will help ensure the entire project goes well.

Creating Your Labels

The next step is to print off all of your labels. Ideally you will have an industrial label printer that will allow you to print off the exact labels that you need. When you are labeling a full facility, being able to print off your own labels will save you a significant amount of money compared to ordering custom labels from a third party printer. When you have a nice label printer you can use the included design software or another type of software to ensure you have the exact label design you want.

Not sure which pipe labels you need?  

The pipe label calculator helps you choose the right labels for your pipes.

If you do choose to go with a third party label printer, however, make sure you tell them exactly what you need and when you need it by. This can sometimes be a time consuming and difficult process if you don’t provide them with the proper information.


Labeling the Pipes

Once you have all the pipe labels ready to go, it is time to start putting them on to the pipes themselves. Depending on how you are accessing your pipes, it may be necessary to shut down other work in the area while the pipes are being applied. If that is the case, make sure you schedule it to cause as little disruption as possible.

When you are ready, start in one area of the facility and work your way through to the other side. If you are using a ladder or a lift of some type, make sure you never try to lean over to reach a pipe. This is not only extremely dangerous, but it can also often cause the labels to be put on improperly. It is much better to do one spot and then move the ladder or lift to get easy access to the next.

The actual application of most pipe labels is actually quite simple. To get them to apply properly, simply follow these steps:

  1. Clean the Pipe – Start by wiping down the pipe and allowing it to dry completely. This will help ensure you have a nice surface for the label to stick to.
  2. Choose the Location – You want to make sure your labels are placed in such a way that people can easily see them from any angle. If necessary, you may have to put two labels on one pipe.
  3. Remove Protective Coating – When ready, remove the protective film on the back of the label, exposing the adhesive.
  4. Apply the Label – Start from one edge and place it directly on the pipe, and then apply it evenly along the length of the pipe. Finally, press the top and bottom so you have a smooth application.
  5. Press the Label – Finally, press all along the label with your hands to ensure all the adhesive comes into full contact with the pipe. This will help keep the labels in place for years to come.

This process is quite simple as long as you have easy access to the pipe itself. It does take a little bit of time, but it is well worth the effort. You’ll find that once you have put a few on, the rest will go much more quickly as well.

Long Term Pipe Safety

The bottom line whenever you want to label pipes is that you want to make sure your facility is as safe as possible. This means taking the time to do the job properly, so that you won’t need to worry about it again for as long as possible. Since pipes normally aren’t exposed to any dangers, the labels will normally last for quite a long time, especially if you use a high quality label stock that won’t fade or peel away from the pipe.

Of course, in the event that something does happen to a label, or you need to install new pipes, make sure you have what you need to put on new labels right away. This is yet another advantage of having an industrial label printer on hand. It will make it quick and easy to create other labels whenever they are needed. Of course, you can also use the printer to make safety signs or other labels too.

Pipe Marking Infographic by Creative Safety Publishing


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