Should I definitely insulate the copper hot water pipes in my basement from the water heater up?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by StageLeft, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. StageLeft

    StageLeft No Lifer

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    I have a gas-heated water tank and a heated, but unfinished basement, so I have complete access to all of the copper pipes that come out from the hot water heater and span out to the rest of the house. The house is a few years old and these are completely uninsulated, which now that I think about it sounds like a bad idea.

    I've read conflicting opinions on insulating the cold pipes in a heated basement, but I'm leaning away from that as it seems pointless and could hurt.

    1) Now, if I insulate these pipes should I use an insulation tape or those long noodles, held on with plastic ties?
    2) Should I deliberately not insulate around the joints? I was thinking that if there is ever a leak it may be nice to have these uncovered for easier access and I doubt it would impact insulation much.
     
  2. pyonir

    pyonir Lifer

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    n/m. it wasnt worth anything
     
  3. DrPizza

    DrPizza Administrator Elite Member Goat Whisperer
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    You simply have to decide if it's worth the expense of the foam insulation. (about $1.50 for a 4 foot piece). I really don't think you'd save any significant amount of money; and NO money during the winter when you're heating your house anyway. (i.e. it'd be just like having hot-water radiant heat on your floorboards.)

    In the summertime, I guess it really depends on how often you use your hot water. Think about it: if you wash the dishes in the kitchen sink, then the hot water in that pipe isn't used until the next morning when you rinse out your coffee cup or something, the insulation isn't going to do anything. It'll simply make the pipes take longer to reach room temperature; but they're still going to cool to room temperature. Instead of 30 minutes, it'll take 2 hours. And, who cares if it's managed to maintain them at luke-warm temperatures; you're still going to run the water through the line until it's hot.

    However, I will point out that it's probably meaningful to have the first 2 or 3 feet of hot water pipe above the hot water tank insulated. This will reduce the amount of heat that's radiated away from the hot water tank itself, and during the summer will reduce the number of times that the hot water tank has to reheat the water. (Again, though, not really saving energy during the winter, unless your hot water tank operates at a much lower efficiency than your furnace.)

     
  4. AlienCraft

    AlienCraft Lifer

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    Insulate all pipes with foam noodles and ties, or spray foam where access is reduced. DO NOT leave turns uninsulated. this can reduce total effectiveness substantially.
    Do not overtighten the ties. The foam noodles I like have a tape strip that is awesome. you do not want to compress the foam.That nullifies any insulating properties.
    Insulation is like investing in stocks, you're in it for the long run.
     
  5. db

    db Diamond Member

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    It's an issue of:
    -conserving the heat you already produced
    -wasting water
    -convenience

    Your decision depends on how much it means to you money-wise, convenience-wise, conservation/efficiency-wise.
    There are water recirculation systems, additional tanks, insulation, and tankless (closer to source of demand) which can be used alone or in combination.
     
  6. TridenT

    TridenT Lifer

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    Just insulate it already...
     
  7. bctbct

    bctbct Diamond Member

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    waste of time unless you are doing it for condensation issues.