There are several good reasons why Vancouver Island residents should insulate their water pipes. During the cold winter climates in Canada, water supply pipes that are exposed to the interior walls or that are located in unheated places can freeze and burst. When these pipes burst, they can flood the home. Undoubtedly, you have experienced or heard experiences of families who have gone on vacation only to return home to a damaged house requiring expensive cleanup and restoration because a water pipe burst. Insulating water pipes is a key part of winterizing the plumbing in a home.
Economic Incentives to Insulate Water Pipes
Homeowners can save money on energy costs if they insulate their water pipes. Insulating your water pipes prevents them from losing heat to surrounding air, making it important to insulate the pipes that come out of your water heater. In the case of cold water pipes, insulation reduces the condensation that forms on them, helping to minimize the humidity in your home.
Which Water Pipes Should Be Insulated?
Your plumbing professionals can help you determine which water pipes need to be insulated based on your goals.
If you want to prevent pipes from freezing during the winter, then it’s critical to have the pipes that are in unheated spaces, as well as those that are in the exterior walls, unheated crawlspaces, unheated garages, and floor cavities, insulated. In the majority of cases, you won’t need to have insulated pipes that travel through interior walls or that travel through heated basements. To prevent freezing, you’ll want to insulate cold and hot water pipes. Some mistakenly believe that hot water pipes cannot freeze, but they actually can unless you actively have water traveling through them.
Lower Heating Costs
If your goal is to reduce water heating costs, then you will want to insulate just the hot water pipes wherever you can access them. In some cases, insulation can even let you lower your water heater’s temperature without impacting your comfort. Since the pipes are not losing as much heat, more of that heat is making its way to your showers, faucets, and other appliances that rely on hot water.
Eliminate Pipe Sweating
If you see insulation as a way to stop your pipes from sweating or stopping humidity, then you want to insulate the cold water pipes. Condensation is formed when cold water pipes come into contact with warm air. This condensation can create puddles on the floor. The result is increased humidity in your home, especially in basement areas. Sweating pipes and excess humidity could create breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Insulating your cold water pipes can prevent this condition.
Types of Pipe Insulation
Plumbing professionals use various types of pipe insulation based on your home’s needs, available materials, and budget. Each material offers unique benefits and downsides.
This type of insulation is beneficial due to its cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and effectiveness. Plumbers find it easier to install since it has precut slits.
Pros are that this type of insulation works best on cold water pipes, it’s a flexible material, and it’s mold resistant. Cons are that this pipe insulation is not preferred for use with hot pipes.
Plumbers use rubber insulation to protect both outdoor and indoor pipes. It is versatile, inexpensive, and durable. Rubber insulation can adapt to temperature fluctuations, making it a popular choice.
Pros are its versatility and flexibility. It works well with iron, copper, and PVC pipes. It can be used on both plumbing and AC pipes. It’s a good choice for cold and hot pipes. This style of insulation is fire-rated. It is both condensation and mold-resistant. The con is that it is slightly more expensive than the other types of insulation.
Fiberglass pipe insulation effectively prevents burst pipes, especially in cold temperatures. It’s a great solution for addressing pipe noise issues in your home.
The pros are that it can be used for hot and cold pipes. However, it performs best on hot pipes. It is easy to install and can be purchased as tubes or wraps. On the downside, fiberglass insulation is a lot more expensive than others, lacks the flexibility of rubber and foam, and requires the use of personal protection equipment and careful installation since fiberglass is an irritant.
While not a common choice, mineral wool is highly effective in pipe insulation. Despite being more expensive than foam or rubber, it offers a high fire resistance rating and minimizes pipe noise effectively.
The pros are that it is extremely fire resistant, repels moisture, and reduces noise. Mineral wool is sustainable and recyclable. The cons are that it’s more expensive than foam or rubber insulation and is a possible carcinogen.
Spray Foam Insulation
As its name implies, spray foam insulation is an expandable foam you can spray on pipes. It’s ideal for tight, awkwardly shaped spaces. Its flexibility makes it perfect for copper pipes that expand with heat.
The pros are that it can be applied to awkward or hard-to-reach spaces. It lasts a long time, reduces noise, and is energy efficient. Cons are that some types can damage PVC piping, the foam isn’t water resistant, and polyurethane foam can give off VOCs.
Foil Pipe Wrap
This type of insulation works well for homes with large basements or attics. It’s an inexpensive option that helps prevent pipe vibrations and minimizes corrosion-induced sweating.
Factors Plumbing Professionals Consider When Insulating Water Pipes
Types of Pipes
Plumbing professionals consider the types of pipes used in most homes, such as PVC, copper, or PEX pipes. Each pipe possesses unique attributes. For example, PEX pipes freeze less frequently than copper pipes. Although insulation materials are versatile, certain types of insulation work better with specific pipe materials. When determining the type of insulation to use, discuss the types of pipes in your home with our technicians.
Plumbers insulate pipes within your home’s interior walls to prevent sweating or condensation. Pipes installed in exterior walls or open crawlspaces are insulated to prevent freezing. These pipes are at risk whenever the temperature drops below 32°F or 0°C. Pipes situated on exterior walls should receive insulation with the highest R-value possible.
Is Insulating Water Pipes a Do-It-Yourself Job?
While insulating certain pipes is a possible do-it-yourself project, there are several compelling reasons not to undertake this task alone. Improperly insulated pipes can risk flooding and water damage in your home. Inadequate R-value for pipe insulation renders it highly ineffective. Lastly, relying solely on pipe insulation may not sufficiently prevent pipe freezing.
A plumbing professional can evaluate your home’s pipe situation, determine the appropriate type of insulation, ensure accurate installation, and offer additional suggestions to safeguard your pipes from damage, preventing potential harm to your home. For example, frost-free faucets may be a good option for homes in colder climates. These faucets are designed with a special valve stem that stops water from getting trapped inside the faucet, where heat could freeze, expand, and burst the pipe.
Vancouver Island’s Best Plumbing, Gas, and HVAC Service Company
At Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas, we are more than a highly experienced plumbing and heating company. Our team is dedicated to providing the highest caliber customer service possible. We offer 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week emergency service.
Our services include HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. We also offer ductless mini-splits. Our plumbing services include boiler installation, hydronic heating, and in-floor heating. We install water heaters and are proud to provide financing on approved credit. Contact Twin Peaks Plumbing, Heating & Gas today to see for yourself what it’s like to work with a contractor who puts their customers first.