What is Pipe Insulation Made From?
Pipes are a critical part of the plumbing in any home. but we don’t think about them too much until something goes wrong – like when they freeze and burst. When water turns into ice, it expands in size. Also, when the water inside of the pipes freezes, it creates intense pressure and causes the plumbing to crack.
This can cause instant flooding and ruin carpets, flooring, furniture, and walls. It can also lead to water damage or mold growth in your home! Sadly, this is incredibly common here in Utah, since nearly 105 days and nights of the year reach temperatures below freezing.
Don’t worry, there is a solution. Rather than allowing them to be subjected to the elements, pipe insulation can help to protect them no matter what time of year it is.
Just like insulation in the walls helps to control the temperature of the home, installing pipe insulation can protect plumbing from extreme temperatures. You may ask, “what is pipe insulation made of and what does the insulation process entail?”
Let’s tackle those FAQs and take a deeper look at how pipe insulation can help to protect your home from this type of mishap.
Types of Pipe Insulation Materials
Three materials are most commonly used for residential plumbing insulation: fiberglass, rubber, and foam.
Fiberglass is perhaps the most common choice for residential pipe insulation because it is resistant to both cold and hot temperatures. While it is not ideal for extreme temperatures, it will prevent pipes from freezing in below-freezing conditions.
Fiberglass is easy to install, but it is on the pricier end compared to other materials. Furthermore, it is not flexible and must be cut correctly to size.
Rubber is a great material for pipe insulation because it is versatile and can be used for pipes made from copper, PVC, or iron. Rubber is also naturally mold-resistant, which is ideal for pipes that get lots of condensation—such as refrigeration plumbing.
Rubber is also quite flexible and can be used to wrap pipes in small spaces or at odd angles. It is also slightly less expensive than fiberglass.
Foam insulation is considered the cheapest type since it is quite easy to install and requires no special cutting and fitting. Foam is sprayed directly onto the pipes and it hardens over time, creating an adhesive seal.
Foam is a great option for copper and PVC pipes and is best for cold-temperature pipes as it does not hold up well with high heat. This material is also mold-resistant and incredibly flexible.
Styles of Pipe Insulation
There are two main styles of pipe insulation. Each of these offers its unique benefits which make it the ideal choice for specific homes or buildings.
Pipe wrap is available in several different materials, including foil-backed fiberglass, fiberglass and plastic, and rubber insulation tape. This is the traditional style of insulation that is used for water pipes and electric water heaters.
A pipe wrap is cut from a flat sheet of material, which is wrapped around the pipe. This is secured using tape, wires, or cable ties every 12 to 24 inches to secure it in place.
When you have a larger section of pipe that needs to be covered, a tubular sleeve is usually the best option. These are made of foam or rubber insulation and have a self-sealing option. They will come in large sections that can be cut down to fit your needs. The corners are cut to fit the sleeve perfectly against the elements, and the seal runs down the seam.
Installing Pipe Insulation
It is highly recommended that you hire residential plumbers who will install pipe insulation. You want to make sure that the job is done right and your pipes are thoroughly insulated—especially as the winter approaches.
Talk with someone there to find the material that works best for your situation. Some materials are best for exposed pipes, while others are recommended for other types of plumbing. Each can serve a different purpose—some like mineral wool protecting from extreme heat in industrial situations and others are added only at certain times of year to prevent the pipes from freezing during the winter.
Make sure to get this taken care of as early as possible to prevent problems from arising. If you haven’t already put insulation on your outside pipes, it isn’t too late. Take the steps now to protect your home from freezing pipes. You will find this far easier than dealing with the problem once it occurs.
Need Help with Pipe Insulation?
Installing extra pipe insulation is important, especially as the Utah temperatures begin to drop. If you forgot to do this to your exposed pipes and had a problem, call us at Shamrock Plumbing. We offer plumbing services in the Salt Lake City, UT area and will happily offer you advice and assistance with any plumbing concerns.
We can help get the problem taken care of, and advise you on how to best protect your pipes. Contact us today to set up an appointment!