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Types of Heat Tape for Pipes

By Edited Jul 12, 2016 0 0

In order to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter you will need to wrap them in heat tape to keep them nice and warm on those freezing nights. There are basically a few different types of heat tape for pipes. You need to know which is the correct type for your particular pipes. Using the incorrect heat tape can cause it to perform poorly and the wrong type of heat tape can actually cause damage to your pipes. To prevent this you will need to make yourself more familiar with the different types and their functions. This will enable you to decide which one is right for you.

Before you begin to purchase and apply your heat tape to your pipes there are a few tricks that will make this task smarter. First always use heat tape on pipes that are full of water. An empty pipe wrapped with heat tape and turned on can melt if it is plastic. Wrap your pipes in heavy duty aluminum foil before you apply the heat tape. This will conduct heat to the part of the pipe that the heat tape is not touching keeping all surfaces of the pipe warm. Furthermore, when applying heat tape place it underneath your pipes if you are running it parallel to the pipes instead of spiral wrapping it, because heat travels upward you will be getting the most out of your work. Coupled with that fact, if you do spiral wrap your heat tape do not allow it to touch itself. Doing so will create a fire hazard. Finally, always make sure that the electrical tape is never between the heat tape and the pipe because if this happens heat conduction will be lost. Most importantly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee urges consumers to replace any heat tape that is more than 3 years old with certified heat tape to help prevent house fires. So if you already have heat tape on your pipes depending on its certification, you may need to replace it. Your heat tape should look like this tape.


Easy Heat Water Pipe Heating Cable

Before you buy any heat tape know the diameter of the pipe and it's length. If the heat tape that you require has to be spiral wrapped or you prefer it that way, then you will have to purchase it in a longer length. When you get ready to wrap it secure it with electrical tape at the beginning and at the end. If you are just going to run it parallel and affix it to the pipe, then electrical tape it ever 6 inches. Make sure that all parts of the heat tape is flush against the pipe with no gaps or sags.

Now back to the types of heat tape. The first type is wire mesh heat cable. This type of cable is self regulating and does not use a thermostat. This type of cable will need to be switched off during warm weather. It is a bit pricier to install. You have to install the termination end cap and plug because it can be custom cut to fit. You can do this yourself or pay a professional to do it for you.

For a cheap fix, you can use vinyl heat tape. This tape cannot be cut, because if it is it will overheat and burn. It will be run parallel along the pipe and secured to it with electrical tape every 6 inches. This type of tape if adhered correctly should keep the pipe at around 98 degrees. This type of tape comes with a thermostat. The thermostat can be mounted to the pipe with electrical tape. After applying the heat tape and the thermostat, the pipes need to be covered with pipe insulation. There is a foam insulation jacket available or a fiberglass pipe wrap that goes over everything when you are finished. When purchasing a specific type of heat type ask the dealer which type of insulation goes with which tape. Vinyl tape gets hotter than mesh, so fiberglass wrap that is too thick may overheat it causing it to short out, whereas foam insulation can't take the heat of vinyl tape The retailer should be able to help you with this decision and the proper thickness of the fiberglass pipe wrap.

Now that you are familiar with the different types of heat tape, your job of protecting your pipes from becoming frozen should be much easier. Always ensure that the heat tape has a three prong plug and that it plugs into a GFCI outlet.





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