How to insulate a cold or hot water pipe

April 28, 2017

Insulating hot and cold water pipes around your home is an easy way to protect your water supply flow and prevent costly damage from frozen water pipes in sub-zero temperatures. [Photo Credit:]


How to insulate a cold or hot water pipe

Follow these step-by-step instructions to successfully complete your next pipe insulation project.

Time: 2 -3 hours
Frequency: N/A
Difficulty: Easy
Tools: Insulation product, electrical tape, duct tape, cutting tool.

Step 1: Understanding the benefits of insulating pipes

Insulating cold water pipes:

  • Prevents water from freezing in the pipes during cold weather.
  • Protects your walls and basement from freezing water thawing and expanding in pipes, leading to burst pipes and potentially devastating leaks.
  • Protects from condensation issues that can occur with elevated humidity levels in the crawl space or basement. Cold water pipes are a natural condensation surface.

 Insulating hot water pipes:

  • Plumbers have varying views when it comes to insulating hot-water pipes. Some recommend it, while others dispute the value of hot water pipe insulation.
  • May result in less time for hot water to reach the tap from the hot-water tank.
  • Prevents heat loss from the pipe, saving you money in energy bills.

Step 2: Consider the types of insulation

Insulation is usually measured or rated by its R-value, or the material’s resistance to conductive heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the effectiveness of the insulating material.

Pipe insulation material comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Foam tubing
  • Foil wrap
  • Fibreglass shell cover
  • Fibreglass wrap
  • Heat tape and cable

Good to know!

Check with your local hardware or DIY store for advice on the type of insulation to use for your pipes. Foam is generally not recommended for insulating hot water pipes as it can be flammable.

Step 3: Preparing the pipes

  • First, take the time to walk around your home to examine the pipes you can see and to check for any leaks; fix these before proceeding.
  • For pipes in walls, check for signs of moisture or water damage on the walls or floors.
  • Wipe pipes clean with a cloth and mild cleanser. Properly installed pipe insulation will protect your pipes from dust and grease.
  • Allow pipes to dry thoroughly before installing pipe insulation.
  • While you’re inspecting the pipe system and walls, seal up any gaps you see coming into the house or between floors to prevent heat loss in the home.

 Good to know!

Pipes under your kitchen sink, in the bathroom, or the crawl space or unfinished basement are likely easy to access. Consider hiring a professional plumber to check the system hidden behind walls or under floors before installing the pipe insulation.

Step 4: Installing the pipe insulation

  • Measure the length of the pipe and cut the insulation to fit.
  • Wrap the insulation around the pipe.
  • When using multiple lengths of insulation, make sure that the seams are sealed with duct tape or electrical tape where they meet.
  • Cover the pipe completely with the insulation material, including corners and bends.
  • Cut slits where necessary to allow the material to follow the pipe around bends. Cover the slits with duct tape.
  • For fibreglass or foil pipe insulations, use duct tape to hold the insulation in place.

 Good to know!

If the insulating material you have chosen is fibreglass, you may want to wrap the fibreglass in plastic to prevent any condensation from dripping.

Insulating water pipes in your home is an inexpensive and easy way to be protected from damaging frozen water pipes and condensation. If that doesn’t give you a warm and cozy feeling, perhaps the savings you’ll enjoy on your home-heating bills will.

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