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Pipe insulation isn’t the most glamorous part of homeownership but ignoring or failing to maintain the pipe insulation in your house can lead to the need for more plumbing maintenance or even an emergency repair when a pipe burst. Insulating your pipes have many benefits and several pitfalls. We’ll explore these, and if you still have questions, your plumbing maintenance experts at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain can give you advice tailored to your particular house.
Insulating Water Pipes in Your Home
Why insulate water pipes in your house? For our bluefrog Plumbing + Drain customers that live in warmer climates, this answer might not seem as obvious as the answers to clients in colder climates, but pipe insulation is an important part of plumbing maintenance no matter where you live.
Both hot and cold pipes can benefit from insulation, and homeowners in any region of the country can, too. Ideally, hot water pipes should be insulated from the water heater all the way to the faucet (or other destination). However, cold water pipes really only need to be insulated near the water heater.
Why Insulate Water Pipes Inside?
It may seem like a daunting task, to insulate all the pipes in your home, especially if you already have walls around them! However, there are many, many benefits to this type of plumbing maintenance. These include:
- Keeping your home’s pipes from freezing in the wintertime
- Reducing wear and tear on the pipes and the joinings by reducing the expanding and contracting of the material with temperature fluctuations
- Reducing heat loss from your water as it travels from the water heater to the faucets, showerheads, and appliances
- Save energy by reducing your heating bill – use less energy to heat the water because the water in the pipes is already hot
- Prevent burns on exposed hot water pipes, including under the cabinets, utility closets, or in unfinished basements
- Control the amount of condensation that collects around the pipes. This helps protect the interior of the walls from creating an environment that grows mold and mildew and reduces damages in cabinets. This is particularly useful for areas with humid climates and colder water supplies
When the water delivered to your faucets, showers, and appliances retains most of its initial heat, you can actually save money on your gas or electric bill (and reduce the chances of scalding) by turning down the temperature of your boiler or tankless water heater. The insulation of the pipes prevents the water’s heat from being absorbed by the pipes. Did you know that by reducing the temperature of your water by 10%, you can save 3 to 5 % on your annual energy bill? This preventative plumbing maintenance can add up to hundreds of dollars of savings each year, and more than cover the cost of pipe insulation.
What Kind of Insulation Should I Use on My Pipes?
Every type of water pipe can benefit from pipe insulation, but not every type of insulation is suited to every type of pipe. To prevent your plumbing maintenance from becoming a plumbing disaster, there are a few things to understand.
Traditional pipe wrap is the most common type of insulation. It’s made of flexible foam wrap with a sticky back, to adhere to the pipe without any glue or tape, foam-and-foil insulation, foil-backed natural cotton, bubble-film pipe wrap, or rubber pipe insulation tape. These types of wraps are usually applied after the home has been built and is generally wrapped around all pipes that are exposed, although not the ones within the walls. This type of material works best when there’s only a small section of pipe to cover or one with multiple curves.
Foam pipe sleeves (these look like pool noodles) are best for covering long, straight stretches of pipe, and can work well covering the pipes from the city water supply to your home, as well. While the name says ‘foam”, these can actually be crafted from either foam or rubber.
One place that many homeowners fail to insulate is the pipe gaps, where the pipes run from the home to the exterior of the home. This is an important part of effective winterization and plumbing maintenance, as the heat loss between inside and out can be drastic. Foam caulk tape or expanding foam is a common way to insulate around the pipes as they enter and exit the home.
If you still have questions and aren’t sure what to use, that’s where we come in. The crew at bluefrog has the knowledge and experience of the typical types of plumbing pipes in your area and the type of insulation that works best.
The Dangers of Uninsulated Exterior Pipes
A burst pipe is the most obvious consequence of neglecting the insulation plumbing maintenance of your pipes. A water or sewage leak either inside the house or out can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in damages, plus leave people stranded without water for days. In the dead of winter, this can be even more troublesome, as sometimes even the best plumbers can’t get out to help you with emergency plumbing problem in blizzard conditions.
Plus, some homeowner’s insurance policies may not cover the damage if they can demonstrate that you failed to keep up with adequate plumbing maintenance.
Other consequences of poor or lacking pipe insulation include high heating costs, as the hot water may not maintain its temperate as efficiently as well-insulated pipes can. This means that you’re spending more money heating the same amount of water. Other dangers can include you, a family member or child, or a pet being burned or scalded by an uninsulated pipe. Finally, there’s the damage that excessive condensation can have on your home’s cabinets or interior walls.
Choose Professional Pipe Insulation Services!
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain can help you prevent costly plumbing maintenance and burst pipes with expertly applied pipe insulation. Give us a call or visit us online today for a complimentary quote! We also handle routine repairs, preventative plumbing maintenance, and ever 24-7 after-hours emergencies – so save the number of your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain in your smartphone!