When we talk about insulation, we most often think of the insulation of the building envelope, from the ground to the roof, including the walls and facades, to that of the windows and other openings, which make it possible to obtain water and airtightness.
Still, we rarely think that of the pipes. Insulating the pipes improves thermal comfort and acoustic comfort. Pipe insulation can mean incredible savings whether we talk about maintenance or the energy cost in our home.
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The insulation or separation of pipes from their surrounding material is technical pipe insulation.
In general, pipe insulation is the lining or sheathing of pipes to reduce heat losses or sound noises through the insulation.
Insulation of pipes is required for heating, hot water, cold distribution, and cold water pipe systems to increase efficiency.
Insulating pipes must be done before installation so that the entire process can be carried out correctly.
Insulators serve to have greater efficiency and avoid condensation in the pipe that means that when the steam is cooled, it does not freeze.
Reasons Why We Need Pipe Insulation
Depending on the type of pipe, insulation will be essential for several reasons. The correct operation of the entire system will largely depend on the pipeline being in perfect condition.
That is why a well-insulated pipe will save us completely unnecessary headaches. High or low temperatures and the chemicals in the building materials used in the home will be the key factors to consider.
If we talk about temperature, the pipes in our home provide us with both hot and cold water. These tubes must have a series of specifications to serve us the water we want and keep it in flawless condition for as long as possible.
That is why insulating each of these pipes will allow them not to freeze on one side, as well as avoid the dreaded condensation.
The latter are the culprits in many dampness, cracks, and leaks in homes. Good insulation will largely avoid this inconvenience since the pipe will have zero contact with the building’s foundation.
Some other reasons for pipe insulation are:
1. Saving energy as an essential reason to insulate pipes
It is one of the fundamental factors to demand good insulation in our home’s plumbing system. Maintaining the water temperature is necessary to avoid surprises on our energy bills.
The fact is that our boiler should not work more than necessary for the water temperature to reach the data we need.
We can say that investing in insulation is an amortizable fact in the short term, as we will be ensuring that external factors such as cold or corrosion do not attack our piping system.
2. Protection of Pipes
It is super important that you use pipe insulation in all cooling or heating systems; these provide protection and help the excellent flow of oil, gas, or liquid each thermal system works.
The use of insulation is as crucial for closed and loop systems as it is for systems with continuous ventilation or exhaust.
Although in the latter, fiberglass pipe covers are usually used, which protect and provide resistance to the pipes or exhaust or extraction ducts.
3. Prevention from Condensation
Where pipes function at temperatures below room temperature, water vapor condenses on the surface, creating humidity, corrosion, and dripping in refrigeration systems, where the temperature is below zero, the formation of layers of ice.
Pipe insulation can prevent the formation of condensation as long as the surface temperature of the insulation is above the dew point of the air and the insulation itself is waterproof (vapor barrier), thus protecting water vapor from passing through the pipe.
4. For the Safety
In the case of pipes or equipment conveying fluids with extreme temperatures, there is a risk of injury to people who come into physical contact with them; they must be insulated to maintain the surface temperature to a safe level.
5. Increase the time of Freezing
The pipeline water can potentially freeze in outdoor plumbing systems or unheated areas where the surrounding temperature can drop below zero degrees.
If the water in the pipe freezes in winter, it causes negative thermal expansion, which can cause the pipe to rupture. Pipe insulation cannot prevent the standing water from freezing inside but can increase its time for this to occur.
For added safety, it is recommended to trace the pipe with a heating cable or ensure a constant water flow.
6. Noise Reduction
A pipe can be a noise source when free liquids flow through it (drain). They must be acoustically insulated with suitable materials: elastomers or similar coupled with layers of lead foil to avoid the transfer of noise to the outside.
The insulation must be continuous, even in the crossings and mechanical fastening of the walls.
7. Concentration of heat on the Radiators
The main goal of heating radiators is to heat the air effectively. Heating pipes thermal insulation does not allow to spend heat on heating walls and technical openings; all heat enters the room.
If a 2-circuit boiler heats the room, condensate constantly accumulates on the uninsulated pipe due to the temperature difference; all liquid will flow into the room.
8. Ensure the Needed Temperature of Cold Liquid
In modern buildings and apartments, pipelines are installed in familiar furrows. If the water pipes are located in the basement of the apartment buildings, then uninsulated pipes without cold water can cause the nearby pipes to heat up.
So when you open a tap, it will take a long time for hot water to flow. An insulating pipe is also helpful for cold water supply systems as it does not allow natural air humidity to this system.
9. Optimal Functioning of the Ventilation System
A ventilated system is needed to maintain a certain amount of humidity and temperature in the room. It also requires isolation.
It is time for systems located in attics during the winter. During winter, the pipes are scorching from the inside. From the outside, they are blown away by the cold airflow.
Thus, condensation can form on the structure surface, damaging the material. Appropriate insulation will protect the system from harmful results of condensation.
Benefits of Pipe Insulation
People often neglect insulating their pipes in their homes, offices, or industry to save money. However, pipe insulation may seem costly and unnecessary at first, but it offers some valuable advantages that no one can ignore.
1. Lower thermal efficiency and utility costs
Pipes need the proper insulation to do their job effectively. Temperature uniformity is critical whether it’s a natural gas line, hot or cold line.
The addition of industrial pipe insulation provides better process control by maintaining the temperature from the inlet to the outlet of the pipe.
It can lead to greater operational efficiency and reduced energy loss which, in turn, can lead to lower operating costs.
2. Condensation control
When temperatures are not maintained, pipes can often develop condensation, which can cause water to accumulate. Proper insulation with the appropriate coating can help minimize the risk of condensation.
3. Acoustic control
During operation, the pipes can create vibrations or even knocking noises. Pipe insulation can help absorb this excessive operational noise.
Contact with hot pipes can be dangerous. Fiberglass insulation can provide a protective layer on the surface of the pipe by minimizing heat transfer.
You’ll need some insulation for those high temperatures that can also provide fire protection and reduce the spread of flames.
5. Save Energy
A poorly insulated pipe causes the hot water circulating to lose around ten degrees. How many of us sometimes leave the faucet on longer until the hot water arrives? Insulation overcomes this problem.
After insulation, many users find that they use less water. Homes heated with a hot water radiator make actual energy savings each year.
6. Thermal insulation: better thermal comfort, in all seasons
In addition to protecting the pipelines, thermal insulation allows the fluids transported to maintain their initial temperature throughout their journey in the piping.
It thus offers constant thermal comfort without wasting energy. You have better control of the temperature in your home since no heat transfer takes place in contact with other surfaces.
7. Fast and efficient work
The insulation work lasts between a few hours and a few days or weeks, depending on the accommodation concerned.
For a detached house, generally, everything is done in one day. While for a building or a community, several weeks may be necessary.
There are, in fact, specific analyzes that do not take place for individual dwellings. The benefit is quickly visible to consumers, especially those whose heaters run on hot water pipes.
8. Add value to your housing
It sounds harmless, but you have to think about it. Individual or collective housing with low energy consumption increases in value in the real estate market.
The property is sold or rented faster and at a fair price. It is not negligible if you plan a move in the months or years to come.
We need insulation for our pipes in homes, offices, industries, and even streets. However, insulation is not necessarily for everyone. Your pipe system may have no faults.
In this case, the insulation will not help. That said, don’t use this concept if you can’t find any anomalies or your plumber doesn’t mention it.
Aside from that, we should also be careful with some insulating materials, which can be toxic. For installations far from your living space, you can, for example, use asbestos insulation. Use a sleeve for the insulation of an accessible pipe.
(Last Updated on November 3, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)