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How to measure plumbing pipes

Updated February 21, 2017

Measuring plumbing pipes often overwhelms the novice plumber. Plumbing pipe measurements aren't simply confined to length; they have a specific inside diameter (ID), outside diameter (OD) and wall thickness. Learn how to measure the important dimensions of plumbing pipes, and you'll be sure to choose the right one for your project.

Hook a tape measure's hook over one open end of the plumbing pipe.

Pull the tape measure across the pipe. Pull firmly to maintain a taut tape and to prevent the hook from slipping off the pipe's end.

Position the tape parallel to the length of the pipe. Hold the tape against the end of the pipe. Read the tape measure's mark closest to the lip at the pipe's end; this value represents the pipe's length.

Insert a vernier calipers' inside jaws into the open end, or centre, of a plumbing pipe.

Use the calipers' slider or knob to open the jaws until they firmly butt against the opposite sides of the pipe's interior.

Read the calipers' scale, dial or display to determine the measurement of the pipe's inside diameter.

Place a vernier calipers' outside jaws over the exterior of a pipe's end.

Use the calipers' slider or knob to compress the jaws until they rest firmly against the opposite sides of the pipe's exterior.

Read the calipers' scale, dial or display to determine the measurement of the pipe's outside diameter.

Place one outside jaw of a pair of vernier calipers over the exterior side of a pipe's end and the opposite outside jaw inside the pipe's opening.

Use the calipers' slider or knob to compress the jaws until the jaws meet at and grip the opposite sides of the pipe's wall.

Read the calipers' scale, dial or display to determine the thickness of the pipe's wall.

Tip

If you don't have vernier calipers, use regular calipers and a tape measure to determine the inside, outside and thickness dimensions.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Vernier calipers
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About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.