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Insulating pipes can help with cold weather plumbing problems

Winter in the Midwest means homeowners need to prepare for unpredictable temperature shifts, as cold air moves in quickly and temperatures dropping below freezing overnight is expected. Switching on the heat, re-setting the thermostat, ensuring that the home’s furnace and plumbing have been inspected, and that any window cracks or leaks have been properly sealed are all smart ways to prep for the sudden colder weather turn. But there’s one important item that may not have made it onto homeowner’s lists to check and prepare: insulating pipes. 

Important fixtures running through the home that help keep the water flowing, a home’s pipes can be susceptible in freezing cold temps, particularly in areas with colder winters like the Midwest. Fortunately, there is a relatively easy way homeowners can protect their pipes and the convenience of running water against the frost and freezing cold of winter — insulation.

Protect Pipes with Insulation

Pipe insulation protects pipes by trapping heat near the pipe. This allows the pipes to stay warm, well above freezing, and facilitates free flowing water through the pipes to prevent any icy blockages. It also helps prevent condensation build-up on cold water pipes, which can freeze on the outside of the pipe and create cracks or fractures.

Home pipe insulation can be purchased from any major home improvement retailer, and comes in several varieties. The most common is foam tube insulation, with varying diameters to fit over different sized pipes. This type of insulation comes with or without a built-in adhesive seal, but either variety is easy to DIY install at home without the use of complicated tools. Homeowners just need a measuring tool (either a ruler, yardstick, or measuring tape), to verify the size of their home’s pipes and to measure before cutting the tubing, and either sharp scissors or a box cutter to cut the tubing down to size. If homeowners opt for the non-adhesive foam tube insulation, they will also need cable ties, duct tape, or aluminum foil tape to secure the sleeves together and around the pipes.

Insulate Hot and Cold Water Pipes

It’s a good idea to insulate both hot and cold water pipes in a home, particularly in regions with colder winters. Insulating hot water pipes is not as important, as the constantly running hot water will fend off the majority of cold weather freezing threats, but insulation can help the pipes operate more efficiently. Trapping the heat of the hot water against the pipes reduces temperature loss as the water travels through the pipes. This allows the water to retain a more consistent temperature without the hot water heater needing to run as much to retain the heat, and showers and baths will receive warm water faster.

Cold water pipes benefit the most from pipe insulation. Insulating cold water pipes prevents these exposed pipes from freezing over and potentially bursting in the colder winter temps. As mentioned previously, insulation also prevents the cold water pipes from building up condensation. Installing insulation prevents water stains from forming on surrounding surfaces as condensation on the pipes drips down, and keeps the pipes from icing over on the outside as temperatures drop.

Winter constantly finds ways to test homeowner’s proactive responses to cold weather and unexpected temperature shifts. While homeowners certainly don’t desire another item to add to their chore checklist, taking the time to research and insulate the home’s pipes will help homeowners save money and avoid expensive repairs caused by freezing water or sudden pipe bursts. 

If you have questions about which insulation is best, how to insulate pipes, or if you need assistance installing insulation, reach out to the plumbing experts at Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, and Cooling. The dedicated team at Duane Blanton has over 30 years of experience to bring to the table when tackling homeowner’s plumbing issues, allowing them to provide solutions and knowledge for just about any plumbing question homeowners could ask. Give the technicians at Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, and Cooling a call today, at (815) 781-2567, or reach out to them online via their convenient online scheduling tool!


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