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So, my pipes froze in my house today, and it made me realize that I should better insulate them for the rare days that it gets in the teens here... What should I do to insulate them?

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If freezing temps are rare, it is also a good idea to let a very little water flow through the pipes until the danger of freezing is not present. Running water is much harder to freeze. The pipe insulation will help immensely. – shirlock homes Feb 3 '11 at 22:40

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Something like this should do the job:

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Source - UK site, but you should be able to source this in the States.

It's split down the length so you can wrap it round existing pipes. It's flexible so you can do corners and bends too.

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I use foam insulation like that and it should be noted that you need to make sure water cant seep in. If you have a path for water to get in, you have a nice conductive path for heat to get out. The insulation is still better than none at all but if it is cold enough and wet enough it can still be a pain. – Bob Roberts Feb 3 '11 at 16:01

If the pipes are not inside of walls, like in an unfinished basement, one option is to use wrap-on pipe heating cables. They're a bit like an extension cord that you wrap around a pipe and plugin. It radiates. It can have a thermostat to turn on at a certain temp.

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Some of them have a little light on them so you can tell at a glance that they're on, which is quite reassuring. – Jeanne Pindar Feb 3 '11 at 20:16
...right up until the power goes out. I'd save that as a last resort if passive methods aren't good enough. – Brian Knoblauch Feb 3 '11 at 21:23

As well as straight lengths of pipe insulation, you can also get insulated pipe wrap, which may be easier or harder to use in some situations. one advantage is that it can be used to wrap multiple (same temperature) pipes at the same time.

duck pipe wrap spiral pipe wrap

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