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  • Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

    I'm curious. Since all the walls are gone from my shower and I've got access to all the pipes... is there any reason not to put that foam pipe insulation on the hot water pipes? I put it on all the pipes around the water heater where I could access them and on the cold pipes around the water meter to keep them from sweating.

    Is there some reason they don't do this to hot water pipes in the walls, or do they just not bother because you can't see them so they figure it doesn't matter?

  • #2
    Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

    I think you have answered your own question. Just as you did, most foam insulation is added by the homeowner--and he/she cannot get at the pipes in the wall. I don't see any reason you can't insulate them, but maybe one of the plumbers will know something I don't.
    Jim

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    • #3
      Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

      If you ever had a pin hole leak or a fitting that wasn't soldered well start to leak and it's covered up, think of what a time you'll have finding the leak. In commercial buildings iron pipes for heating systems have fiberglass cloth covered jackets on them to save on heat loss.

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      • #4
        Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

        Well the insulation will only be on straight sections I can access, so I don't suppose finding a leak will be an issue. If I can get to the pipe, I can easily pull off the slip-on foam insulation, right? Once it's sealed up in the wall, that foam should be the least of my worries when it comes to a leak.

        Do you think there will be some benefit to this?

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        • #5
          Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

          The reason not to do it is it isn't very cost effective. You have to pay for the insulation. Nothing is keeping the water in the pipes hot. The hot water is stored in the water heater. The insulation will only slow down the heat loss of preheated water in the pipes. By the time you take your next shower that heat will have already dissipated with or without insulation. I can't see it being cost effective to insulate them unless you take very frequent showers.

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          • #6
            Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

            The only real reason i could see to insulate domestic water in a house woould be to stop condensation from forming on the pipes and causing moisture damage, and that is more of an issue in a boiler room because of the high temp. You really dont see too much condensation in the walls of your house
            West Trail Mechanical Ltd
            Service. Commitment. Expertise.

            www.westtrailmechanical.ca

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            • #7
              Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

              it is ok, and that foam is cheap many large custom home i have worked on where completly insulated for many reasons
              1 condensation
              2 if the house had a researce pump
              3 or for noise.
              this was done be the builders laberors as plumber ar to $$$ to put it on.


              sorry for my spealing


              fastplumber out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

                i would insulate every plumbing wall possible. this will cut down on noise and even heat loss. insulation is very cheep and in your own home. it's less than a buck a foot. even fiberglass wall insulation is great for noise and it's less than .25 per square foot. you can't go wrong with insulation. i did every open wall in my house and my electric and gas bills are peanuts. city required the floors that were an addition to be insulated. i also did the entire attic.

                rick.
                phoebe it is

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                • #9
                  Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

                  I know where I live it gets down to -40c and in the summer it can get as hot as 35c so we insulate the hell out of our houses with a r40 attic and r20 to r40 walls. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Its also a good sound proofing. You can never have enough insulation.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

                    I'm not a plumber, but I do agree with Plumber Rick, about insulating the exterior walls behind the pipe.

                    But, I would hesitate to insulate the pipe itself, especially if the pipe was on an exterior wall, and especially if there was no insulation behind the pipe. The reason, as previously mentioned in an earlier post, is that the heated water is stored in the hot water tank where it is continually monitored and heated as necessary. The water in the pipe itself receives no heat and is going to start cooling the minute you stop your shower or bath water. Given time and exterior temperature, you could very well have the pipe reach the freezing point.

                    My reasoning is that if the pipe is surrounded by insulation, it will also be insulated from the interior heat of the bathroom. While the insulation slows the loss of heat from the water, it also hinders the absorption of heat from the interior of the house. So in these extreme temperatures, there is a good chance that the temperature of the pipe will eventually reach freezing. At worse this will damage the pipe. But even without damage, a frozen pipe in the wall behind your tub, with insulation surrounding it, would be very difficult if not impossible to thaw until better weather!

                    CWS
                    Last edited by CWSmith; 02-10-2007, 01:17 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

                      insulation is just that, insulation. it will help maintain the ambient temperature that it surrounds. if the walls are cold and the pipe has not been used for a long time, then the pipe will stay cool and will take longer to come up to temperature. if your room stays below 32 degrees for an extended period of time, then everything will absorb that temp. and all will be frozen. if the pipe has proper insulation and is used on a regular basis, then the temperature will be maintaind by the insulation. if the room is frozen and the pipe is frozen, then it too will take longer to thaw if it's insulated.

                      if you plan on living in an igloo then you need to worry about more things than insulation. a jacket acts as insulation to help our body stay at 98.6. the same jacket can also help an ice block stay below freezing while exposed to above freezing temperatures.

                      the point is, insulate all pipes and walls for heat loss and noise. noise is better with loosly packed insulation. it helps in sound deadening.

                      as long as you stay above 32, in the house, nothing will freeze.

                      if water piping is running in the attic, insulate. otherwise you will have super hot water in the summer and super cold water in the winter.

                      if you don't want to insulate, move to southern california but you'll still hear it without insulation.

                      rick.
                      phoebe it is

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is it ok to insulate pipe in walls?

                        Originally posted by CWSmith View Post
                        I'm not a plumber, but I do agree with Plumber Rick, about insulating the exterior walls behind the pipe.

                        But, I would hesitate to insulate the pipe itself, especially if the pipe was on an exterior wall, and especially if there was no insulation behind the pipe. The reason, as previously mentioned in an earlier post, is that the heated water is stored in the hot water tank where it is continually monitored and heated as necessary. The water in the pipe itself receives no heat and is going to start cooling the minute you stop your shower or bath water. Given time and exterior temperature, you could very well have the pipe reach the freezing point.

                        My reasoning is that if the pipe is surrounded by insulation, it will also be insulated from the interior heat of the bathroom. While the insulation slows the loss of heat from the water, it also hinders the absorption of heat from the interior of the house. So in these extreme temperatures, there is a good chance that the temperature of the pipe will eventually reach freezing. At worse this will damage the pipe. But even without damage, a frozen pipe in the wall behind your tub, with insulation surrounding it, would be very difficult if not impossible to thaw until better weather!

                        CWS
                        I don't agree with this at all. The only part i agree with is if your pipe does freeze it will take longer to thaw. But at that point something is screwed up anyways.
                        My point is that even if a room is well above freezing a water line can freeze if it is not insulated and there is a cold draft blowing across it. Insulation in NO WAY will harm anything only help. If the pipe is on the exterior wall in a climate that receives freezing temperatures you would be dumb not to insulate the pipes and the walls with the highest grade insulation available.

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