It’s easy to forget just how cold it can get in the wintertime. If it gets cold enough in your area for water to freeze outside, then it can freeze your water pipes inside – especially those pipes in close proximity to outside walls. The damage that can be incurred from burst water pipes can be as catastrophic and devastating as a fire, and just as expensive and difficult to fix. Even if pipes do not burst from freezing, it can bend them (especially copper pipes), making them more susceptible to breakage and in need of replacement. Replacing pipes can be quite expensive.
Pipes that are insulated also retain heat much better, keeping the water in them hot for a longer period of time. That will save you some money on your electric bill (since your hot water heater won’t have to work as hard).
Padding and insulating your pipes before really cold weather sets in is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to save yourself a lot of time, money, and headache. There are several ways to do this.
This is a good way to re-use all the old newspapers you have lying around. Wrap several layers around your pipes and secure with duct tape. Newspaper absorbs moisture, too, which can be an added benefit – pipes with condensation clinging to them may be more likely to freeze, and stagnant moisture creates mold.
2. Foam Sleeves
These inexpensive, foam tubes can be purchased from most hardware stores. They have a slit cut along their length, and you simply slip the tube over your pipes. You will need to cut the sleeves to the appropriate lengths. No tape is required.
3. Heating Tape
Heating tape, or heat cable, is a spongey, adhesive tape that contains wires inside its plastic casing. After the heating tape is applied around the pipes, it is plugged into a power source and the wires heat up. When you apply it, be sure each wrap overlaps the previous one by approximately 1/2 inch.
Don’t cut up your old sweaters for this project – you will need to buy wool specially woven for pipe insulation. Made from pressure-rolled woolen fibers and hairs, wool is a natural and effective way to pad your pipes. Wrap your pipes with the wool material and secure with duct tape.
It may seem like a lot of trouble to pad your pipes, especially when the weather is still warm and pleasant. But the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true regarding pipe insulation. Preventing frozen pipes is only an “ounce” of trouble compared with the many “pounds” (and pounding headaches) required to repair a home damaged by water.
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