Author Topic: Questions about pipe insulation  (Read 1770 times)

nfriedly2

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Questions about pipe insulation
« on: August 04, 2014, 11:30:54 AM »
Hi folks! My shower and most of my sinks seem to take forever to get hot water, and I know I'm wasting time and money when I'm standing around running cold water down the drain and waiting for it to warm up. So pipe insulation is a fairly obvious solution, but I don't know exactly what to buy. It seems like most of what I can find doesn't even list an R-value (although I'm probably not looking in the right place), and then the real problem is that I don't really know what would be worth it anyways.

So, questions are:
* Where should I shop?
* How much of a difference will different r-values make?

I have copper pipes, about 60 foot of pipes that are 3/4 inch outer diameter and another 15-20 foot that are 1/2 inch outer diameter. I have a tankless water heater if that makes a difference.

My dad suggested just buying some "wet noodles" (pool toys) and cutting a slit in them - any idea how well that would work?

Joggernot

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Re: Questions about pipe insulation
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2014, 12:07:43 PM »
Buy the regular pipe insulation.  It's pretty cheap and will fit the pipe.  The "noodles" won't fit the pipe.

Greg

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Re: Questions about pipe insulation
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2014, 12:11:47 PM »
Most <1" thick hardware store foam pipe insulation is about R5 or less, but newer thicker foam pipe insulation is becoming more common since many places (at least here in the PNW) now require 2" thick R10 pipe insulation (Energy Star style). 

At a minimum, cover all hot water pipes you can access, using pre-fab corners or careful 45 miters at turns.  Taping joints is pretty optional, but is optimal.  Also insulate the first few feet of cold supply pipe at the water heater, if you have a tank style.  The cold water pipes near the heater can also loose heat.

Try local big box stores if you have nothing else, otherwise try local hardware stores and builders' lumber and supply houses.  The builders' supply places often have better quality stuff, at slightly higher prices, because builders don't want to hassle with cheap crap that homeowners are often willing to use to save a few bucks.

If you're more concerned about water waste than energy waste, a hot water circulation pump might work well for you.  It circulates the hot water to a specific fixture (say the kitchen sink) so that the hot water is ready to go.  You can also do this by installing a smart water heater under the sink that provides hot water until the water coming into the under-sink heater is hot.  The circ. pump can be motion activated or on a timer depending on how you need it to work.

Hope this helps.

dragoncar

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Re: Questions about pipe insulation
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2014, 03:28:04 PM »
I have a tankless water heater if that makes a difference.


I'm pretty sure this is the problem, and insulation won't fix it.  But I'm not a plumber, and this isn't plumbing advice. 

aj_yooper

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Re: Questions about pipe insulation
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2014, 03:35:40 PM »
Greg's comments are spot on for me.  We have a long run from the water heater in our ranch and the water is cold for a bit; insulation has helped.  My plumbing supply friend also suggested the circulator and the on-demand water heater in the kitchen, but I did not try that.