Pipe Insulation and You

It might surprise you to talk about now, but this month on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we are talking about pipe insulation and winter prep for your plumbing. “It’s September! Fall isn’t even here yet!” We hear you, but when it comes to pipe insulation and other winter prep, getting it done before winter is the whole point, it’s a proactive measure you need to take to make sure your plumbing doesn’t breakdown come the colder months. Let’s start with pipe insulation!

Pipe Insulation – What is It Good For?

You might be surprised to hear it, pipe insulation is good for keeping your pipes, more specifically what is flowing through them, the temperature they need to be for them to work like they are supposed to!

You might think ‘Hey, the pipes are in the walls, that’s insulated! Nothing to worry about here,’ and while in most cases, sure, the pipes might not need that extra help to keep their temp. Those interior walls keep the temperature regulated, but in unheated portions of your home there can be there can be unseen problems caused by the lack of insulation. For instance, cold water pipes might sweat, increasing the humidity in your home. Hot water pipes leaving the heater might lose some of their heat as they flow, making you crank the hot water handle to get it where you want and causing the cost to rise in turn!

For those pipes that are on the exterior of your home, or in the outer walls, they may be exposed to more extreme temperatures such as freezing cold putting them at risk to freeze, burst, and flood your home!

So, you want to prevent freezing pipes, you want to prevent loss of heat and energy inefficiency. That means its time to insulate!

Ways to Insulate Pipesman installing pipe insulation

There are a few different methods for installing pipe insulation. You can:

  • Use foam pipe sleeves
  • Add wall insulation
  • Use pipe wrap

Installing Foam Pipe Sleeves

These work best when long, straight stretches of pipe need insulating. Installing them is surprisingly easy, all you’ll need are the sleeves, maybe some duct tape, and something to cut the foam with! Simply lay the sleeve along the pipe, pry up the slit in the side of the sleeve and slide over the pipe. The slit may have a self-adhesive strip attached, may not, but either way it wouldn’t hurt to double dip and seal using duct tape after the fact. When you get to a point where the pipe bends or ends, simply cut the remaining length of foam and use it elsewhere. You may end up with some bends or places that aren’t as well insulated. If you’re handy enough, you can cut and wrangle the foam sleeves to cover the exposed  areas decently enough.

Adding Wall Insulation

If you’re in a place that gets freezing temps (and believe it or not, that includes us desert dwellers in Tucson!) you know that the exterior walls get cold. If you have any pipes in the exterior walls, you’ll need to make sure they are adequately insulated. This requires a bit more work than the pipe sleeves, including opening up your walls and placing new, better insulating materials into the space. If you have another remodeling project on the docket, now is the time to double dip and get a plan made for insulation.

Using Pipe Wrap

Pipe wrap is available in a bunch of different materials – flexible foam, bubble-film, foam-and-foil, foil-backed cotton, or rubber pipe tape. It’s easy to install and works well for small stretches pipe, or where there are so many bends it isn’t feasible to use something bigger. Whichever wrap material you go with, installation is dead simple. Tape one end on the pipe and get wrapping, spiraling the strip around the pipe overlapping each loop by about a half an inch. Tape the other end of the insulating strip into place and bing-bang-boom you’re in business!

If you combine both the pipe wrap and sleeve methods you can cover your exposed pipes with the necessary insulation fairly painlessly! Not up to snuff when it comes to handy stuff? Worried you might make the problem worse, or just want to have the peace of mind that comes with professional installation? You know who to call!

Next time, on the blog we’ll take a look at winter prep for all your plumbing including winterizing your pipes!

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