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BS 1710 British Standard Pipe Marking

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

british pipe marking on hot water supply

British Standard 1710 (BS 1710) provides the standards for identifying pipes, including colour coding, label locations, and information about pipe contents. The BS 1710 pipe marking standard is written to be in alignment with the international ISO/R 508 standard "Identification Colours For Pipes Conveying Fluids In Liquid Or Gaseous Conditions In Land Installations And On Board Ships."  However, BS 1710 provides for the option of using user defined supplemental colours for 'other liquids' and specifies marking for ventilation ducts and electrical conduits. BS 1710 also specifies the pipe marking for medical gases and refrigerants. This makes the British 1710 pipe marking standard an all-encompassing standard.

British Standard 1710 Pipe Marker Locations

The BS 1710 pipe marking standard only applies to pipes carrying fluids that are located above ground  and to generic pipes on ships.  It requires that, at a minimum, pipe marking must be located on both sides of valves, service appliances, bulkheads, wall and floor penetrations, as well as any other place pipe contents identification is needed.

British Standard 1710 Pipe Marker Colours

BS 1710 specifies two types of color coding. Basic Identification Colours and Safety Colours. Decorative or protective coatings on pipes may not use any of these colors. BS 1710 specifies specific colours, identified by their BS Colour Reference number, that must be used.

BS 1710 Basic Identification Colours                                                                                                  

Pipe Contents Name Reference Colour BS 4800 Colour
Water Green 12 D 45
Steam Silver-Grey 10 A 03
Oils (mineral, vegetable or animal) Brown 06 C 39
Gases (in either gas or liquid phase - except air) Yellow Ochre 08 C 35
Acids / Alkalis Violet 22 C 37
Air Light Blue 20 E 51
Other Liquids Back 00 E 53
Electrical Services & Ventilation Ducts Orange 06 E 51

BS 1710 Safety Colours

The British Standard 1710 Safety Colours are used in addition to the Basic Identification Colours. The basic color, indicating the pipe contents, is shown on either side the the safety colour. For example, fire fighting water would have a band of green (water), a band of red (fire fighting), and then another band of green. Fire fighting steam would be silver-grey, red, silver-grey.

  • Fire Fighting - Red - 04 E 53
  • Warning - Yellow - 08 E 51
  • Fresh Water - Auxiliary Blue - 18 E 53

Colours may be painted onto pipes or applied using adhesive labels that wrap around the pipe. BS 1710 also allows for user-defined custom colors to provide more detailed information. As when Safety Colours are used, the user defined color is located in a band between bands of the required Identification Colours.

Content Information - Code Indications

The British Standard 1710 pipe marking code requires that information about pipe contents be provided using at least one of the following methods:

  • The full name
  • The common abbreviation of the name
  • The chemical symbol
  • The refrigerant number as specified in British Standard 4580
  • The appropriate colour bands (including specific color coding specified for medical and general building services, and optional colour bands for refrigeration services).

The above Code Indications must be at least at the specified locations for pipe markers, and there must always be a Code Indication next to any banding.

Pipe content names, abbreviations, symbols and numbers must be printed in either black or white, whichever provides the best contrast. The Code Indications are to be placed directly on the pipe or on a label placed on the pipe. The background colour of the label must match the safety identification color.

Indicating the Direction Of Flow

The direction of the fluid flow in a pipe is to be indicated by an arrow located near the basic Identification Color. The arrow may be either white or black, whichever provides the best contrast. If a label with the Identification Colour is being used, the direction of flow is indicated by the pointed end of this label.

British Standard 1710 Pipe Markers

The most common and economical way to be in compliance with British Standard 1710 is to use adhesive backed pipe marker labels. Adhesive BS 1710 pipe markers are easy to make and apply, and if you are using a DuraLabel printer, they are economical, durable, and you can always get the right material for the conditions (as required by BS 1710).

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