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The Home Depot

Pipe Insulation Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Plumbing > Pipe Insulation Guide
Pipe Insulation Guide

We all take it for granted that when we turn on the faucet water, either hot or cold, will flow from it. Heating water requires energy and that energy is not free. The amount of heat loss in the pipes will affect your utility bills. Properly insulated pipes can give you significant savings on your energy bills. Insulating cold water pipes will stop condensation dripping of them and damaging the building. Keep in mind that if there is significant heat loss from your hot water pipes and there are cold water pipes running next to them, the cold pipes should also be insulated because there will be less heat radiating on them making them more likely to freeze up in cold weather.

  1. Heating water requires energy and that energy is not free. The amount of heat loss in the pipes will affect your utility bills.

    1.Before You Begin Pipe Insulation

    The first thing to do is decide if you can do the job yourself. If you feel confident and are able to access the pipes that need insulating, go ahead. If you have doubts, it may be a good idea to get professional help. Improper insulation will not only be less effective, it will need to be replaced soon. And if the pipes are damaged during the insulation process the repair costs could be very large. If you decide that you need professional help, you will find details of qualified professionals in your area online using a significant search engine.


    Before you begin inspect all the piping that needs to be insulated and look for any signs of damage or leaks. If you spot anything that needs attention, and cannot do the repairs yourself, hire a plumber to do what is needed. Once you are sure that the pipes are in good condition, give them a thorough cleaning. If need be, use a cleaning solution. Allow the pipes to completely dry before beginning the insulation work. The next thing to do is to measure your pipes to know the amount of insulating material you will need.

  2. 2.Choices of Pipe Insulation

    There are various insulation options you can choose from. The most common are semi-split or tubular sleeve insulation, foil, and fiberglass. Check which one is best for your specific needs and study the actual fitment procedure so you know what you are getting into. A simple Google search will provide you with information on insulation suppliers in your area.

  4. 3.Insulating the Pipes

    Because you may be working in a confined space, wearing protective head gear, and gloves should be considered. The gloves should not be too bulky and thick because that will hamper your ability to do the insulation properly. If the area has a lot of dust and/or mildew using eye protection and a breathing mask is a good idea.


    1. If you are using foil or fiberglass insulation, it will be in long strips, usually mounted on a spool.


    2. Cut off a long but manageable length.


    3. Secure the start of the insulation to the pipe with duct tape or foil wrap tape.


    4. Start wrapping the insulation around the pipe maintaining a firm tension as you go along.


    5. Keep a ½ inch overlap as you wrap.


    6. When you reach the end of the pip, secure the insulation with duct or foil wrap tape.


    7. When going around bends, make sure that there are no gaps in the insulation and wrap the insulation at the bends in duct tape to prevent it getting loose.


    8. If you are using fiberglass, wrap the insulation in plastic to prevent condensation dripping off the pipes.


    9. If you are using semi-split, cut the insulation to match the pipe length.


    10. Separate the split and slide the tube over the pipe.


    11. If you are using more than one length, use duct tape to secure and seal the joints.


    12. Secure the insulation at 5 to 6 foot intervals with duct tape to keep it tight.

  5. 4.Be Safe, Be Comfortable

    Checking your pipe insulation regularly can save you from a lot of hassles and expensive emergency repairs. Remember that while you may be spending on the insulation, you will be reducing heat loss and saving on energy costs. And any time you can save money in a high unemployment environment, during a recession that never ends, and when you are facing huge tax increases in an already high tax environment, you have done yourself a favor.

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