ER Project House: Insulating Water Pipes

Post image for ER Project House:  Insulating Water Pipes

by Tim Fulton on November 1, 2010

Last week I decided to insulate my hot water pipes. I figured it wouldn’t be much work and would be relatively inexpensive. I also didn’t imagine it would do much. But, I got three bags of 3/4″ pipe insulation and some aluminum foil duct tape got to work. There were two grades of pipe insulation at the store, 3/8″ thick and 5/8″ thick. I chose to get the 5/8″ thick insulation. If you’re doing it, you might as well go all the way I think.

pipe insulation

The previous owner had a piece of insulation here and there. I’m sure it wasn’t too effective at keeping much heat in. Above and below is the general layout.

pipe insulation

The pipes extend to the right behind the furnace and then go up to the kitchen, bathroom, and 2nd floor bathroom.

pipe insulation

So, I went to work. I probably went way overkill with my cutting joints and taping them up with aluminum tape. But, I would rather overkill than underkill. So, I added insulation almost everywhere I could. I just used a pocket knife to cut the insulation. I eventually added a small cap (not shown) to the pressure relief valve per the suggestion of forum member Patrick who recently installed a hybrid heat pump water heater. His heater came with insulation for the valve. Also, I found it amazing how warm the pipes coming directly out of the water heater are. The cold and the hot side were both very warm.

pipe insulation

I insulated as much of the pipes going to my sunroom’s hydronic heated floor as I could. These were all bare copper before.

pipe insulation

This was the biggest pain in the butt area. Lots of small pieces and lots of cutting them to fit elbows and tees correctly.

pipe insulation

And, back on the far side of the furnace, I again added insulation to everything I could. The uninsulated pipes are the cold lines.

So far the pipes have been insulated for almost a week now. I ended up using 2.5 bags of the pipe insulation. I was skeptical about the benefits of doing this, but I can definitely say that getting hot water on the 2nd floor happens more quickly now. I’m quite happy with the results.


1 PJ November 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Good job. May want to consider a cover for the tank too next.

2 Tim Fulton November 3, 2010 at 8:22 am

Thanks PJ. A tank insulation kit is on the list of things to do.

3 hondo434 November 2, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Tim, watch out for the insulation on top of the water heater next to the exhaust flue. Extremly hot exhaust flows up the flue and can melt or burn the insulation

4 Tim Fulton November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am

Thanks Hondo. I am aware of the hot flue issue. I monitored the insulation and it has not melted at all. I was expecting it to, but am happy to see it didn’t.

5 Jough626 November 8, 2010 at 5:27 am

Install Heat Traps on the tank to eliminate loss on the cold water inlet.

6 Tim Fulton November 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Yep, thats another good idea that is also on the list for hot and cold connections. Thanks Jough626.

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