History of the ASME B31.1 Power Piping Code

In 1926, the American Standards Institute initiated Project B31 to develop a piping code. The first publication was in 1935. From 1942 to 1955 the Code was published as the American Standard Code for Pressure Piping, ASA B31.1. It consisted of separate sections for different industries. Starting in 1955, these sections were split off – and now currently exist as:

  • B31.1 Power Piping
  • B31.2 Fuel Gas Piping (withdrawn in 1988)
  • B31.3 Process Piping
  • B31.4 Pipeline Transportation Systems for Liquid Hydrocarbon and Other Liquids
  • B31.5 Refrigeration Piping
  • B31.6 Chemical Plant Piping (never published – was merged into B31.3)
  • B31.7 Nuclear Piping (moved to ASME B&PV Code Section III)
  • B31.8 Gas Transmission and Distribution Piping Systems
  • B31.9 Building Services piping
  • B31.10 Cryogenic Piping (never published – merged into B31.3)
  • B31.11 Slurry Piping

The initials that have occurred in front of B31.1 have been ASA, ANSI and ASME. In 1978, the Standards Committee was reorganized as a committee operating under ASME procedures with ANSI accreditation. – therefore the initials  ASME now appear in front of B31.1.

Scope of the ASME B31.1 Code

The ASME B31.1 Code was written for power piping systems, covering fuel gas and oil systems in the plant (downstream of the meters), central and district heating systems, in addition to the water and steam systems in power plants.

ASME B31.1 is a consensus document, written by a committee that is intended to contain balanced representation from a variety of interests. Membership includes:

  1. Manufacturers
  2. Owners/Operators
  3. Designers/ Constructors
  4. Regulatory Agents
  5. Insurers/Inspectors
  6. General Interest Parties

Intent of the ASME B31.1 Code

The ASME B31.1 Code provides minimum requirements for safety. It is not a design handbook- furthermore, it is for the design of new piping. As well as in the guidance in the repair, replacement  or modification of existing piping.


“Companion Guide to the ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code – Criteria and Commentary on Select Aspects of the Boiler & Pressure and Piping Codes” Third Edition, Volume 1, K.R. Rao, Editor, ASME Press, 2009


O’Donnell Consulting performs engineering analysis to ASME B31.1 (Power Piping) and B31.3 (Process Piping) Code as well as finite element analysis to Codes including API, AWS and ASME. Call to learn more.

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