Heat Tape: Frozen Pipes Countermeasure

With winter now undoubtedly here, the danger of freezing pipes and bursting pipes should be on every home owner’s mind.

When the temperature drops low enough, the water in your pipes turns to solid ice. Since water expands as it freezes, frozen pipes often turn into burst pipes.  Burst pipes can fill your house with water causing thousands of dollars in damage — that’s a nightmare scenario for every homeowner.

Why spend the time and money fixing trying to fix the mess a pipe burst makes when it’s so simple and inexpensive to keep it from happening in the first place.

One of the simplest and most cost effective options for protecting your pipes is heat tape. You may have never heard of it, but heat tape is the primary frozen pipe countermeasure. Find out more about what it is, and how it can save your pipes — and wallet — from taking a hit this winter.

What is Heat Tape?

Heat tape is not so much tape, but an electrical wire that attaches to pipes. The wire has a heat cord encased inside that gives warmth to your pipes, keeping the water from freezing.

There are two types of heat tape that you can use in your home:

Self-regulating Heat Tape

This type of heat tape takes the work off of your hands by self-regulating. Its temperature will automatically change the heat output depending on the change in temperature in your home. So if the weather is abnormally cold or abnormally warm, the tape will detect it and adjust accordingly. This simple but powerful hardware conveniently keeps your pipes from bursting.

Non-regulating Heat Tape

The non-regulating tape has a thermostat that controls its temperature. It requires a connection kit with an end plug and outlet as well as a thermostat to regulate the temperature. Non-regulating tape tends to be a bit cheaper than the self-regulating variety.

Both of these options are great ways to keep your pipes at the optimal temperature this season. So the next question then is what does the installation process entail?

Heat Tape Installation

While it is possible to do the installation yourself, not many homeowners do it themselves. Instead they trust this important task to an expert plumber.

The first thing that must be done when installing heat tape is to measure the length of your pipes so you know just how much you’ll need.

When purchasing heat tape, be sure to make sure you are buying heat tape that will work with your pipes. Most heat tapes are okay on plastic or metal water lines, however some are not. This is a great reason to team with an expert — you’ll know you have the right tape for your pipes.

You’ll also want to decide on what, if any, additional features you want the tape to have. Features would include things like the power indicator light or a built in thermostat, and insulation to assist in heat retention.

Most types of heat tape are taped to the underside of the pipe using high quality, manufacturer- approved electrical tape.

Be sure not to cross the wires or pull the tape too tight as it may pinch the tape, creating a problem. It should also not be turning any sharp corners. Your tape will most likely be rendered useless if it has a sharp bend in it.

Give heat tape a little room on corners to avoid this. Then you’ll want to be sure that the thermostat is placed directly onto the pipe in its coldest spot so that the reading is as accurate as possible.

From there, insulate the heat tape with foam tubular or rubber installation by starting at one end and wrapping the pipe until you get to the other end, making sure the tape and pipes are covered.

Need a Little Heat Tape Help?

If the installation process sounds like a bit more than you bargained for, let the experienced Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Wilmington DE take care of it for you. Even though you can attempt a DIY  installation, not too many homeowners choose that option. After all, your heat tape does an important job, you don’t want to trust it to anyone other than an expert.

Enjoy the comfort that comes from knowing that the job was done right. Then enjoy the rest of the winter with your flowing pipes and dry home.

Contact us today for heat tape installation, frozen pipe repair, and all of your plumbing needs.