DIY Water Pipe Insulation
Water pipe insulation increases the effectiveness and performance of your piping systems, and saves you a lot of money on your heating bills. Pipe insulation is most important for areas where there’s the possibility of pipes freezing and bursting, not to mention the fact that if this happened, repair bills would be astronomically high. So, this guide will prove quite useful for any DIY project in which you want to ensure the safety of your home, and the integrity of your wallet.
Step 1 - Choose Insulation
First, measure the diameter and length of the pipes you want to insulate. Then, choose the insulation. Your choice should be based on the standard R-value for homes. The higher R-value the better. Quality insulation pipe sleeves, made out of foam or fiberglass, are excellent options, because they’re easy to install and very effective. Foam type pipe insulation is flexible, fiber- and CFC-free, mold-resistant, and doesn’t accumulate dust, but can be damaged by high temperatures. Hard fiberglass insulation is made for high temperature pipes, but is more expensive.
Step 2 - Prepare the Pipe
Do not install water pipe insulation over leaking pipes. Carefully check all the pipes, and give special attention to checking the pipe joints for leakage. If you notice dirt or grease in or around the pipes, remove it and wash it out. Make sure the pipes are totally dry before continuing with the installation. Otherwise, even a slow leak can damage insulation as well as cause pipe corrosion.
Step 3 - Insulate
Cut the tube sleeves along their sides, open them, and slide them over the existing pipes. Wrap up all pipe corners and bends. Use pipe insulation everywhere you can. When insulating around corners, T-joints, and especially 90-degree elbows, cut the insulation at a 45-degree angle, first from one direction and then from the other direction, and fit them together. Some types of pipe insulation have a sticky strip on the cut, that allows you to easily press the attached tape and seal it.
Step 4 - Extra Precautions
Your pipes are now insulated, but you need to take extra precautions to make them even safer. Seal all the cuts made with high quality duct tape. Seal properly all seams between the sleeves if you used more than one. Pay attention to the corners, as the seals at these joints tend to open up over time. If you used fiberglass insulation, secure it with wires or clamps, after sealing with duct tape. Follow any extra instructions in the owner’s manual that came with the insulation. Be sure you’re not creating a fire hazard by insulating something that shouldn’t be insulated or by installing flammable insulation near a high heat source. It’s a good idea to insulate both cold and hot water pipes. If you have pipes outside the house, they should be insulated as well – fiberglass insulation is more effective for the outdoors.