Author Topic: Applying heating tape to pipes  (Read 706 times)

Sibley

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Applying heating tape to pipes
« on: January 03, 2018, 07:57:16 AM »
To go along with the other thread about how to unfreeze your frozen pipes.... I had frozen pipes and now that I've unfrozen the pipes, I need to prevent this from happening again.

My setup:
The utility room is at the back of the house, it's poorly insulated. Slab floor. Water line comes into the house and splits into 2 branches. One goes along the back wall to the washer and utility sink; the other to the hot water heater and main house. (see diagram attached) Pipes are metal, not copper.

The pipes froze behind the sink/washer and around the corner for a bit. Both hot and cold. Those pipes have zero insulation on them, I was able to add some insulation to the rest of the back wall. It's a crowded area - there's a gas line, hot and cold water pipes, an electric conduit, and a drain line from the furnace humidifier all sitting together. The pipes are touching in a lot of places. I can move the drain line around but the rest of it doesn't move.

I can't add insulation to the wall without tearing everything out, and I'm not prepared to do that. So I need to add heating tape to the pipes. Given the spacing of all these pipes, it'll be REALLY hard to wrap each water pipe separately, and depending on how thick this tape is, I may not be able to at all. Can I wrap both pipes as one? Does the gas line or electric conduit object to having heating tape touching it?

Jon Bon

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Re: Applying heating tape to pipes
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2018, 08:58:48 AM »
I would get a temp gun first, find and fix the leaks with some spray foam.  You might be right you might need to insulate every wall to fix the issue but often I have found that  there is a single space or two can can be fixed with targeted insulation/foam/fiberglass etc.



Then go to active measures. Sorry im no help on heat tape, but temp guns are useful as hell.

 

Sibley

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Re: Applying heating tape to pipes
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 10:24:20 AM »
This is pretty much the whole wall, it's how the addition was built, there's no insulation. I've already done some work with air leaks, so while it's not perfect it's a lot better than it was. Given how it's all configured with pipes, etc, I'd have to gut down to studs to fix the underlying problem, and that's not something I can do right now. About 10 feet total length of pipe seems to have frozen. The insulation (batting) I'd added this summer seems to have protected the pipes where I put it, but I can't add it in the corner that froze. Pipe heater tape seems to be my best (only?) option.

Granted, temps have been extreme here - I'm in the midwest and we're part of that wonderful cold snap hitting most of the country.

Jon Bon

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Re: Applying heating tape to pipes
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2018, 11:07:23 AM »
Yeah same here the midwest has been hella cold.  I just had 2 sets of pipes freeze, one I was able to insulate and probably solve in the future the second was just bad workmanship.

What type of pipes do you have? 10 feet is a LONG run to be frozen. I cant imagine copper being able to handle that type of cold. 

As for wrapping the pipe copper is going to be best because you wont be able to melt it and it transfers  heat really well. However water also transfers heat, so if you are able to get 50% of it wrapped I would think that is plenty.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Frost-King-12-ft-Water-Pipe-Heat-Cable-HC12A/100032792






Sibley

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Re: Applying heating tape to pipes
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 12:29:51 PM »
It's not copper or cast iron. Possibly galvanized steel? There is galvanized elsewhere in the house. (I've got everything but PEX somewhere in the house!)
 
The section I had to defrost includes a corner bend, offshoots for sink and washer, outside hose spigot, etc. Not sure what difference all that stuff would make. I got lucky though that nothing burst.

That link is pretty much was I was planning on getting. I'll do my best to wrap it around the pipes, but given the space constraints... The area that I know froze should be ok to wrap at least. The tightest spots either didn't freeze, or unfroze once I uncovered them.

trammatic

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Re: Applying heating tape to pipes
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 07:15:19 AM »
I had a similar issue in Ohio years ago.  I bought an old garage apartment with the living quarters above a 2-car garage.  The washer and laundry sink were downstairs in the garage, and after I insulated the floor and other water pipes, the ones down there would freeze during these really cold snaps.  I ended up installing a shutoff valve at the beginning of the branch, and a drain valve at the end.  I only used the washer for a couple of hours once or twice a week, and just drained the pipes after using it in the really cold weather.  In other words, treat the branch like a hose bib.  It's not really a huge hassle, and there was no ongoing cost as there would be with the electricity for the tape.

Sibley

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Re: Applying heating tape to pipes
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 10:33:51 AM »
Trammatic, that would be a very good solution, and one I've considered. Maybe eventually. Other priorities first.

I tried to install heater tape, and failed. Per the instructions, there's certain things you can't do and I'd have to do several of them. Having 2 water pipes, drain hose, gas line, and electrical conduit all RIGHT THERE and touching each other is not particularly smart. Combined with the insulation, it's a no go. Going to exchange for a small space heater and use that when it gets really cold. Combined with actually remembering to drip the faucet, it should protect those pipes well enough. Luckily, it's only an issue a few days/weeks a year.