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ANSI Color Codes


ANSI Color Codes

Why are the ANSI color codes important? What does the yellow background mean?

The yellow background signifies that the piping may handle hazardous material.
Unfortunately, much has changed in the typical plant over the last 70 years since this
standard was originally conceived. The basic standard can be traced to the 1920's and use
in the US military. Obviously, our definitions for what is "hazardous" has changed. Water, air
or carbon dioxide, under certain situations (pressure, heat, mixture with other chemicals) are
not always benign. How do we interpret, for example, materials that should be used for "fire
quenching" that are also "hazardous"? Should we use the red or the yellow ANSI scheme?
Or, how do we label a pipe that carries both the liquid (which should be green) and gas form
of a chemical (which should be blue)?

Hazards, in other words, are not so easily defined. "Hazardous" may mean that the material
is hazardous to a person nearby, or to the operation of the overall plant itself. Could
"hazardous" mean that the materials flowing through the process piping, if not handled
carefully, could contaminate the product. Or, if leaked into the atmosphere, could the
chemical infect the environment or cause damage to employees after cumulative exposure
over a period of years? Clearly, the ANSI standard was written for far simpler times.

Color Std Meaning Example

Electric Power Lines, Cables,
Red APWA Buried High Voltage Line
Conduit and Lighting Cables
Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Natural Gas Distribution
Yellow APWA
Gaseous Materials Line
Communication, Alarm or Signal
Orange APWA Buried Fiber Optic Cable
Lines, Cables or Conduit
Blue APWA Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines Buried Water Line
Green APWA Sewers, Drain Line Buried Storm Sewer Line
Red Traffic Prohibition STOP, Yield
Orange Traffic Temporary Work Zone Construction Zone Ahead
Yellow Traffic Caution Merge Ahead, Slow
Blue Traffic Information Signs Hospital
Brown Traffic Historical or Park Picnic Area Ahead
Green Traffic Directional Signs Exit 1 Mile, Go
ANSI Hazardous Voltage Will
Red Danger Signs, Highest Hazard
Sign Cause Death
ANSI Hazardous Voltage May
Orange Warning Signs, Medium Hazard
Sign Cause Death
ANSI Turn Machine Off When
Yellow Caution Signs, Lowest Hazard
Sign Not In Use
Blue Notice Signs Employees Only
Green Safety First Signs Wear Ear Plugs

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ANSI Color Codes

Red Fire Quenching Materials Fire Protection Water
Yellow Materials Inherently Hazardous Chlorine
ANSI Materials of Inherently Low Hazard,
Blue Compressed Air
Pipe Gas
ANSI Materials of Inherently Low Hazard,
Green Storm Drain
Pipe Liquid
NFPA Blue is used for Health Hazards, Red for Flammability and
701 Yellow for reactivity

Variations in color-coding standards are inevitable in our complex plant and pluralistic
society. While laudable, harmonization of color-codes, then, will be very difficult to achieve.
Many plants use other color-coding; for example, color-code each system (i.e. Lube Oil is
brown, Condensate is green, etc.>) or color code by Unit (i.e. Unit 1 is yellow, Unit 2 is blue,
etc.). For most plants, we recommend either the ANSI pipe marker color codes or simply
black on yellow markers. For more complex plants, we recommend a color-coding by
system. For all environments, we recommend the inclusion of RTK information on the valve
or on the pipe.

ANSI Color Code for Thermocouple and Thermocouple Extension Wire

Thermocouple Wire T/C Extension Wire
ANSI Color Color
Symbol Wire Alloys Polarity Individual Jacket Individual Jacket
Iron +JP White White
J Brown Black
Constantan(TM) -JN Red Red
CHROMEL®* +KP Yellow Yellow
K Brown Yellow
ALUMEL®* -KN Red Red
Copper +TP Blue Blue
T Brown Blue
Constantan(TM) -TN Red Red
CHROMEL®* +EP Purple Purple
E Brown Purple
Constantan(TM) -EN Red Red
Nicrosil(TM) +NP Orange Orange
N Brown Orange
Nisil(TM) -NN Red Red
Copper +RSP Black
Copper Alloy -RSN
- - Red

PCLW630/Copper +BP Grey

Copper -BN
- - Red

W3X Alloy 203; Alloy 405 +WP White/Red

W5X Alloy 225; Alloy 426 -WN
- - Red

* CHROMEL® and ALUMEL® are registered rademarks of Hoskins Manufacturing Company. PMC
Corporation reserves the right to substitute equivalent product to CHROMEL® and ALUMEL® at any time.
For additional information see Bare Wire Data Sheet

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