For most homeowners, whether to insulate a home’s hot water pipes is a fairly easy decision. When you can purchase effective insulating pipe sleeves for a few feet per dollar, it’s hard to resist the simple energy savings that will pay off for years. But not all homeowners know about this easy efficiency booster -- or the reasons why you might want to insulate your cold water pipes, as well.
Some Like It Hot
First, the obvious -- insulating your hot water pipes will help keep your hot water hot. If you have a traditional tank water heater, you’re already paying to keep that hot water on standby. With the benefit of pipe insulation, the hot water waiting in your pipes will cool down slower.
Quality insulation can add a few degrees to the actual temperature of household water, so if you like things especially hot when you’re showering or washing the dishes, pipe insulation is well worth the expense. This also helps save water, because it will shorten the time it takes for the water coming out of your fixtures to reach your desired temperature.
And if you hear a loud knocking sound when you run your hot water, that could be your metal pipes expanding with the flow of heat. This clanking noise can be a nuisance for some homeowners, and pipe insulation can help quiet things down.
What About Cold Water Pipes?
There’s no heat to preserve in your cold water pipes, so it might not immediately make sense to insulate them. But if you’re already going to the trouble of insulating your hot water pipes, adding insulation to their cold water compatriots should only add a few bucks in materials to the average house -- and there are some real benefits.
If your cold water pipes run through any area of your home that lacks climate control -- whether it’s an unfinished basement or a section of pipe exposed to the outdoor elements -- you run the risk of pipes freezing in winter. This can cause a big mess and an even bigger repair expense. But cheap, simple insulation can help prevent this from happening.
During the summer, these sections of pipe may also be exposed to outdoor heat, which may transfer to your cold water supply. Unless you want your cold water tap pouring warm or even hot water all summer, pipe insulation can help you here, as well.
Another benefit of insulating your cold water pipes is avoiding condensation. In high-humidity environments, metal pipes filled with cold water will become covered in condensation. As these droplets collect, they’ll fall onto whatever lies beneath. If you’re storing priceless keepsakes in your basement beneath uninsulated water pipes, this moisture could produce destructive results.
DIY or Full Service
Installing your own water pipe insulation is often as simple as purchasing sleeves, cutting them to length and securing them in place with tape. But some hard-to-reach sections of pipe may be a job for a licensed, experienced plumber. If you’re getting into this project and discover you need the expertise of a pro, get in touch with you local plumbing professionals today.