Whether it is the dead of winter or the peak of the summertime heat, insulating your pipes is something that will benefit your plumbing system, not just your pocketbook. You may hear conflicting notions on the importance of insulating your pipes. Some plumbers may even suggest that you only insulate your cold water pipes, and skip the hot water pipes. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there are benefits to insulating your home’s piping.
Understanding what pipes to insulate will come down to where you live and your motivation for insulating your pipes in the first place. One thing is certain though. Insulating your pipes is a cheap and easy way to save money in the long run. Here is a quickie guide to insulating your pipes if you haven’t already.
Benefits of Insulating Your Pipes
Don’t be intimidated by your plumbing system. You don’t have to be incredibly handy to manage this DIY ordeal. Insulating your pipes is a simple and affordable home project. While conserving energy costs rounds the top of the list, there are multiple benefits to insulating your pipes. Here is the shortlist:
- Conserve Energy & Lower Power Bill – When it comes to inexpensive ways to save money, insulating your pipes may just be the easiest energy-saving hack for homeowners.
- Keep Pipes From Freezing & Bursting – Pipes bursting is a huge problem for some homeowners. For those living in cooler climates, or to protect your piping during the winter, it is wise to insulate your pipes. The insulation will help keep the water at a moderate temperature and prevent it from freezing.
- Prevents Heat Loss From Piping – This is especially true when you consider the heat loss that occurs when water is being fed to your shower or washing machine from the water heater. By insulating the piping that runs from your water heater to the rest of the house, means the temperature of the water will be hotter. That, in turn, affords you some wiggle room to possibly turn down the temperature on your water heater. By turning it down just 5 degrees can save you about $10-15 a month. That covers the cost of insulation in the first place.
- Minimizes Condensation – For homes in warmer climates, insulating your cold water pipes will help regulate the humidity in the rest of the house. Cold water pipes tend to sweat in the hotter months. The condensation that develops not only increases the humidity in the home, but could lead to mold and water staining.
- Prevents Pipes From Contracting & Expanding – Insulating your piping will help prevent your pipes from contracting and expanding. This is especially helpful for the longevity of your plumbing system. When the temperature is constantly changing inside and outside of the piping and there isn’t any insulation present to regulate it, pipes tend to expand and contract. If this happens for a prolonged period of time it can put undue strain on your pipes, which will eventually lead to leaks and may require replacement.
Is Water Pipe Insulation Worth the Cost?
The short answer is ‘yes’, insulating your piping is absolutely worth the cost. This is especially the case if you opt to do-it-yourself. But there are some variables to consider first. If your home already has exposed piping then that makes it even easier to insulate it yourself and would dramatically cut costs. If you happen to be in the process of building a new home, seize the opportunity! New home construction is an ideal time to completely insulate your home’s piping.
How badly do you want to see a return on your investment? The DIY approach is the most financially advantageous option if you are truly trying to save money and make insulating your pipes worth the expense.
Paying for the cost of labor may be a poor investment. It could be the difference between a $100-$1000 invoice, or $20-30 in materials to go it alone. Remember, aside from some uncomfortable maneuvering when in crawl spaces, insulating your pipes is a fairly simple task. Just wrap your pipes in insulation and secure it with tape or plastic zip ties, and voilà, your pipes are protected and insulated.
Hot Water Pipes vs. Cold Water Pipes
Where you live and the location of the piping in the home, will likely be the two most important factors on which pipes you need to insulate. Two of the main reasons for insulating piping is to either prevent freezing or prevent sweating. Both hot water pipes and cold water pipes have reasons for why they should be insulated.
- For Hot Water Pipes – Everyone likes a hot shower, especially in the winter months. While hot water pipes are less likely to freeze and rupture, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any benefits to insulating them. Logic would suggest that as water travels from your hot water heater to the shower or dishwasher, it loses some heat. When you line your hot water pipes with insulation, it will help keep your water rocking at an optimal toasty temperature as it goes to different parts of your home.
- For Cold Water Pipes – Cold water pipes have more pressing reasons for why you need to insulate them, and has little to do with the desired temperature of your water while showering. Insulating your cold water pipes is especially important in the winter months. Insulation will help protect your pipes from freezing. If you haven’t ever had to contend with a burst pipe in your home, consider yourself fortunate. When a pipe ruptures it can cause extensive water damage and is a major headache to clean up and contain. Another reason for insulating your cold water pipes is that they absorb the heat around them. If your cold water pipes are exposed in any area of the home that you are trying to keep warm, it could hinder those efforts. Lastly, insulation on your cold water pipes will prevent your pipes from sweating. When your pipes sweat, condensation forms and those droplets of water will accumulate and eventually drip on the floor, which could result in a large water stain or floor rot.
As with any home improvement project, carefully weigh the cost of hiring a professional plumber to that of the man-hours and cost of materials if you were to go the DIY route. Your time may be more valuable to you, so it may make more sense to just hire a pro.
If you do indeed decide to do-it-yourself, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. While adding insulation to your existing piping may be simple in some sections, harder to reach sections of pipe could get tricky. Again, only you know the layout of your home and its energy demands. If you are feeling unsure, don’t be ashamed to reach out to an experienced plumber to insulate your home’s piping.
Are you considering insulating your existing piping or repiping your home? It may be time to call the trusted plumbers at Detour Plumbing. We offer 24/7 plumbing services. Detour Plumbing specializes in high quality pipe insulation and installation services. Contact Detour Plumbing today: (661) 495-2483