If you’re looking for an easy way to save money and improve the performance of your Boston plumbing system, consider insulating your pipes. Insulation is highly cost-effective, easy-to-do and can help your hot water stay hotter and your cold water stay colder. Insulting your pipes also doesn’t take any special equipment or tools and the task can be completed in just a few minutes.
In terms of energy efficiency, a significant portion – as much as 30% – of energy loss occurs in pipe and duct runs. The amount of loss is proportional to the length of the run. To combat energy loss, add specially formed pipe insulation, which can be found at your local home improvement or hardware store. Pipe insulation is pre-formed and should have an R-rating of 3 or more. Using better insulation is especially important if your pipes reside in or near your home’s exterior walls.
You can also use regular fiberglass “batt” insulation (with an R-value of 7 or higher) to wrap around pipes, but you’ll need to use protective equipment for your hands, face, clothing and eyes if you go this route. The preformed pipe insulation is the preferred solution if you have a choice.
To apply pre-formed insulation, simply open the insulation tube along the pre-cut split that runs the length of the tube and wrap it around the pipe, like a cuff. You’ll need to break the insulation around joints and valves. If you’re using the batt type insulation, you’ll need to cut the insulation to length, wrap the pipe and secure the insulation with tape or some other binding.
Any pipe – hot or cold – that runs in or near an exterior wall should be insulated. This includes any pipes that feed outdoor spigots and sprinkler systems. After those pipes are done, the next prime candidates are your hot water pipes. You can reduce energy consumption by insulating these, but you can also realize other benefits by insulating your cold water pipes, too.
When there is a significant difference in temperature between the cold water in the pipe and the surrounding air temperature, your cold water pipes will act like a condenser; it will naturally remove moisture from the air. This phenomenon is known as “sweating” and may cause your cold water pipes to drip this condensed moisture along the horizontal runs.
By insulating your cold water pipes, you can control the condensing action, and keep the standing water in the pipe colder – and more refreshing on a hot day!
If you need plumbing, heating or cooling assistance in your home, call Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating anytime at (617) 288-2911. We provide licensed plumbers and high quality service around the clock!
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