Protecting Your Pipes

By Mark J. Donovan

March 18, 2015 3 min read

Aside from building code mandates, there are several good reasons for insulating your plumbing pipes. Take a look at the benefits below, along with various types of insulation solutions.

*Prevent Cracked Pipes

First and foremost, installing pipe insulation helps prevent them from bursting if exposed to below-freezing temperatures. Cracked plumbing pipes can cause very extensive and expensive damage, potentially forcing homeowners out of their home for repairs.

Water expands when frozen. And when it expands in plumbing pipes, it has nowhere to go. This creates incredible pressure inside the pipes until they eventually burst. And when plumbing pipes burst, they often crack along the length of the pipe, versus a single hole, requiring an entire section of plumbing to be replaced.

*Reduction in Heat Gain and Loss

Insulated pipes save on home energy bills. For example, insulated hot water plumbing pipes lose less heat when hot water is transferred from the water heater to the faucet. Thus a homeowner can save money by preventing the heat transfer loss and get hot water to the faucet quicker. Similarly, insulating cold plumbing pipes helps prevent cold water from warming up as it travels from the cold water storage tank to the demanding faucet.

*Mitigating Condensation

Insulating plumbing pipes also helps to reduce or eliminate condensation that can corrode copper pipes and their fixtures. When warm moist air, such as in a basement during summer months, comes in contact with cold plumbing pipes, small droplets of water form on the pipe surfaces. When this occurs, the pipes and fixtures to rust. In addition, the water droplets can spill onto the floor and other surfaces, causing water damage or mold and mildew growth.

*Solutions for Insulating Plumbing Pipes

Conventional foam insulation comes in common lengths and diameters to support standard plumbing pipe diameters. The foam insulation has a slit down the length so that it can easily be slid over the pipe.

Installing this plumbing pipe insulation is very easy and inexpensive to do. All you need is a utility knife and some electrical tape for sealing seams.

There is also self-sealing foam insulation. With this type of foam insulation, an adhesive along the slit is protected by clear plastic tape. After slipping the self-sealing foam insulation over the plumbing pipes, simply remove the plastic tape and press the two edges of the seam together to form a tight seal.

For a more robust solution, hire a professional to come in and apply spray foam insulation over the plumbing pipes. This solution, however, is more expensive and makes it difficult to work on the pipes in the event of an issue.

Mark J. Donovan's website is at

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