If you know anything about pipe insulation, you already know that it can help avoid frozen pipes. Pipe insulation prevents water in your plumbing system from freezing and expanding, causing the pipes to break and cause considerable (and costly) damage.
Pipe insulation, on the other hand, plays several less dramatic roles in the home. These not only save money on utility bills but also make life easier for the owners of both residential and commercial buildings.
On This Article:
- Heat Gain and Loss Reduction
- Condensation Management
- Selecting Your Insulation
- Benefits vs. Costs
- The Importance of Pipe Insulation
Heat Gain and Loss Reduction
One of the most neglected advantages of pipe insulation is its ability to reduce heat loss and gain. In a home without pipe insulation, the hot water loses heat, and cold water gains heat as it passes through the plumbing lines. When pipe insulation is used, this otherwise inevitable effectualness is considerably reduced.
In the case of a hot-water pipe, it may not seem like a huge deal that the plumbing run doesn’t lose heat. The benefits are substantial: you save money on your monthly energy bills. So you won’t have to wait as long for hot water to reach your kitchen or bathroom fixtures.
Insulation helps minimize condensation when the surfaces of plumbing pipes are cooler than the surrounding air. Which, if left unchecked, would erode the pipes and fittings over time, eventually leading to a catastrophic collapse.
Condensation, though it may seem unimportant, is a regular occurrence, especially when cold-water lines come into touch with warm, humid air. Warm air is kept out of the pipes using vapor barrier-wrapped pipe insulation.
Another benefit of pipe insulation is that it protects persons as well as pipes from damage caused by contact with extremely hot or cold piping.
Selecting Your Insulation
Pipe insulation comes in a variety of forms, each constructed of different insulation material and capable of insulating to varying degrees. Some are better suited to hot-water applications, while others have the vapor barrier needed to prevent condensation in a cold-water line. The following are the key types of insulation:
Conventional foam insulation
It has a slot on one side that allows it to easily fit over existing pipes. It’s a good idea to tape the slits shut after it’s in place to improve the product’s insulating ability.
Self-sealing foam insulation
Unlike traditional pipe insulation, self-sealing foam insulation has an adhesive along the slit. Remove the tape and push the adhesive strips together to complete the project.
Spray foam insulation
Spray foam pipe insulation excels where there is limited space between the water pipes and the outer walls. Often is installed by experts with pressurized containers.
Fiberglass pipe insulation
Fiberglass resists heat effectively, this form of hinged, paper-coated rigid fiberglass insulation is most commonly employed where pipe temperatures are extremely high.
Benefits vs. Costs
Is it ever a bad idea to insulate pipes? “The only time I can think of where pipe insulation would be a negative idea is on radiant heating or cooling loops. In which insulation would actively work against the design of the pipe system.”
Installing pipe insulation is energy-saving and provides peace of mind in all but a few cases, but does the value exceed the cost? Whether or not you hire a contractor may have an impact on this. Doing the job yourself—which is usually not difficult—tips the balance sheet in your favor, whereas hiring help may or may not be worthwhile depending on where you reside.
The Importance of Pipe Insulation
Reduced Utility Costs & Thermal Performance
Pipes require proper insulation to function properly. Temperature consistency is critical in natural gas pipes, whether hot or cold. By preserving the temperature from pipe entry to exit, adding industrial pipe insulation improves process control. This can result in higher energy efficiencies, which can contribute to lower operating expenses.
When temperatures aren’t kept consistent, pipes might condensate, resulting in pooled water. Condensation can be reduced with proper insulation and the application of suitable facing.
Controlling the sound
Pipes can produce vibrations or even hammering noises while in use. The absorption of these high-pitched operational noises might be aided by pipe insulation.
Pipes with elevated temperatures can be dangerous to come into contact with. By reducing heat transfer, fiberglass pipe insulation can create a protective layer over the pipe surface. You’ll need insulation that can protect you from fire and slow the spread of flames in these high temperatures.
Pipe insulation that comes in a clamshell form, making it easier to seal in place, is available for quick and easy installation. Use insulation with a facing that creates fewer creases and is simpler to wipe clean for a clean, polished look in the area.