A rubber elbow is a length of elbow pipe made out of rubber. Elbow pipe is set at an angle to allow pipelines to change direction. This is often necessary in cramped spaces or when running lines from one point to another, because that line is rarely straight. Using elbows allows people to create bending sets of pipes without compromising the integrity of the pipe by attempting to bend or force a stretch of pipe which was designed to be straight.
While many people think of rubber as flexible, rubber elbows can in fact be quite stiff. Companies which make these products typically offer both 45 degree and 90 degree rubber elbows, and variations may be available by request. Rubber elbows also come in a range of diameters to attach to various types of pipe and hose, and some companies make low profile and other variations which are designed to fit into unique spaces. They can also be made with ovoid openings instead of circular ones for specialty pipe.
As an alternative to rubber, silicone is also available. Silicone elbows may be used in settings where high heat and pressure are a concern. Whether silicone or rubber, the elbow often represents a weak point in the pipe line. The areas where the elbow joins the connecting pipe can weaken, and the rubber elbow itself can weaken over time. Signs that an elbow needs to be replaced include softness, obvious holes, cracking, and crumbling.
Elbow pipe connectors can be used with lots of different types of pipe, including metals, plastics, and rubber hose. In all cases, people should make sure that all of the pipe is suitable for the intended application, rated to handle the temperature, pressure, and other conditions which may be encountered. Failure to use the appropriate plumbing materials can result in catastrophic failures, such as exploding pipes which damage an engine. Likewise, materials used for joinery with a rubber elbow and other plumbing also need to be rated for the application.
When selecting a rubber elbow, people should consider where and how it is being used. Staff may have specific recommendations for people who are not sure about which pipe elbow would best meet their needs. People may also want to ask if there are specific uses for which a product is not recommended, especially if they are working on a somewhat unusual project. It is also important to be aware that most companies will not accept liability for a rubber elbow which was not appropriate to the setting or which was installed improperly.