Expandable Pipe Plugs – How to Avoid Misuse


Industrial products need cautious implementation to avoid any misuse that might result in dangerous results. As an industrial product, expandable pipe plugs -as well- require attention before-during-and-after implementation. Here is a checklist of dos and don’ts for proper use.

Prior to using the pipe plug, read our article here to make sure that you have chosen the right expandable pipe plugs for your project.

Before Using:

  • Before and after each use, clean the pipe plug with a solution of water and detergent. After cleaning, flush the pipe plug with clean water and allow it to dry thoroughly before use. Do not clean the pipe plug with solvents or petroleum products which may damage the pipe plug!
  • Inspect the pipe plug and all auxiliary equipment for damage before each use by using the soapy water solution. The leaks will cause the soap bubbles to appear. Look very carefully for evidence that any part of the pipe plug assembly has been damaged, weakened or is missing. Clean and inspect the pipe plug completely. If the pipe plug fails or dislodges for any reason, death, serious bodily injury and/or property damage may occur.
  • If evidence of any damage such as a crack, cuts or corrosion is observed, do not use the pipe plug. Contact PlugCo for inspection or destroy the pipe plug and replace it with a new one.
  • Before entering a manhole or other confined space, thoroughly check for hazardous gasses and proper oxygen levels. If necessary, ventilate the confined space. Strictly follow confined space safety procedures.
  • Properly clean the pipe of any debris or foreign substance which may reduce the back pressure holding the capability before the pipe plug is installed. Foreign substances may include grass, oil, mold or any other material that can prevent solid contact between the pipe plug and the pipe wall.
  • The inflation hose must be of enough length to inflate or deflate the pipe plug from outside the danger zone.
  • Insert the pipe plug into the pipeline. Before inflating the pipe plug, position it correctly in the pipeline. The shortest allowable distance from the beginning of the pipeline to the pipe plug is equal to the pipeline diameter.


While Using:

  • Never inflate the expandable pipe plugs outside of the pipe.
  • Never inflate the pipe plug over or near sharp objects. Remove all sharp objects, stones and any foreign material from the pipe before inserting the pipe plug.
  • Never allow the pipe plug to protrude from the end of the pipeline during inflation or use.
  • Never inflate the pipe plug over laterals or other openings.
  • Always completely insert the pipe plug into the pipe.
  • Attach the air hose to inflation connection, the anchor hook(s) to eyebolt(s) and the water hose to its connection for filling the test area with water.
  • Check the air hose, water hose, rope and their connections to make sure that they do not have any damages or leaking.
  • Proper support or bracing must be installed to secure the pipe plug into place if the back-pressure limit may be reached or exceeded. Bracing support should contact the front face of the pipe plug and the contact surface should be smooth to distribute forces equally on the pipe plug. Sharp points of contact may damage the pipe plug. If the back pressure comes from the front side of the pipe plug, use chains or ropes to brace the pipe plug. Always brace the pipe plugs under the pressure.
  • The inflation is done from a location outside the Danger Zone using an inflation hose, a proper pressure source and a calibrated pressure gauge to monitor the working pressure.
  • Check the inflation pressure on the control device at least every four hours. A small volume of inflation air leak through the elastomeric body of every inflatable pipe plug. This lost air must be replaced periodically.

Pay High Attention to the Following:

  • Select and use the proper safety and protective equipment such as helmet, goggles, gloves and protective footwear. Please follow PlugCo safety manual for safety rules.
  • Never allow a person to enter the test area (danger zone). Do not enter the Danger Zone when the pipe plug under pressure.
  • All inflatable products have a risk of suddenly rupturing. Do not enter the Danger Zone when the pipe plug is under pressure!
  • Never exceed the maximum allowable inflation pressure (working pressure) shown in the data sheet and on the technical information tag on the expandable pipe plug.

After Using:

  • After completing the test, release the back pressure (head pressure) completely. Then open the discharge valve and deflate the pipe plug. Release the air in the pipe plug from outside the danger zone through the inflation hose until the pipe plug completely deflates.
  • Never remove the pipe plug from the pipeline until all pipeline head pressure is released and the pipe plug is deflated.
  • Never use the air inflating hose to remove the pipe plug from the pipe. Use the rope or cable to install and remove the pipe plug.
  • After using the pipe plug, clean and inspect for damage, tears or any other defects.
  • Store the expandable pipe plugs in a clean dry place at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.