Can I operate a well pump with no pressure tank by using the breaker as a switch?

I have about 10 feet of well PE black pipe from the ground in the crawl space to the utility closet (inside heated living area in cabin).

Utility closet has the pressure tank and water heater and is in a heated space. Pressure tank and water heater are fully functional with pressure switch. PE has thick aluminum foil and new unused heat tape over it, no insulation.

Crawl space for now is essentially open as I have the small windows open to dry it out. Once I close the windows, its still not really sealed very well.

I dislike working with fiberglass...any thoughts on how long the tape will work down to what temperature? What else can I use to insulate the pipe with?

As an aside, I used to keep a ceramic heater down there to keep the pipes unfrozen, at least in the dead of winter, January February. Otherwise it was usually ok. At that time the pressure tank and water heater were downstairs. Fixed that!

Reference: https://mobilehomeliving.org/adding-heat-tape-water-lines/

"Don’t cover heat tapes with insulation even if the tape manufacturer permits it."

"If you do add insulation, only use fiberglass or another non-flammable material. Do not use foam or vinyl insulation as they could catch fire easier."


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    Black PVC pipe? Never heard of it. Are you sure it isn't black Poly Ethylene (PE) pipe, the flexible stuff that comes in a roll? I ask because if what you used is hard black plastic pipe sold in 10ft lengths, that is ABS pipe and is NOT suitable for potable water or holding pressure! ABS pipe is DWV use only (Drain, Waste and Vent). – JRaef Oct 17 '19 at 22:13
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    Have you looked at foam pipe insulation? Is your heat-tape a self-regulating (PTC) type, or something that relies on external thermostatic control? – ThreePhaseEel Oct 18 '19 at 1:13
  • JRaef - Thanks. Corrected main section, yes, 10 feet of polyethylene in crawl space. ThreePhaseEel, idn, its frost king, orange cord, bought at big box store. Has one sensor in the basement on the tape. Supposedly, grey foam insulation is not acceptable for this application - but i would love to use that! Its flammable. – House DiY Oct 18 '19 at 2:13
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    Isn't polyethylene also flammable? – user3757614 Oct 18 '19 at 2:45
  • Q: After I apply my pipes with a Heat Cable, can I then put pipe insulation over the cable kit? Rubber Tubular Pipe Insulation can be used over the Heat Cable. But Fiberglass Pipe Wrap with Plastic overwrap or Faced Fiberglass Pipe Wrap is a better choice. The Wrap does a better job completely encapsulating the heat cable to hold in the heat and better protect the pipe. So... Yes, it is recommended that the heating cable is applied on the pipe, covered with ½ inch fiberglass insulation or any equivalent non-combustible insulation with vapor seal. – House DiY Oct 18 '19 at 2:56

I would forego use of heat-tape altogether. They are a HUGE fire hazard.

I would instead opt for something like this (or thicker) and wrap it in foil tape if what you buy doesn't have foil:


A frozen/burst pipe is FAR cheaper and easier to fix the results of a fire.

  • Tubular rubber insulation is offered with and without self-seal adhesive. Arguably, self-seal rubber insulation offers the best value for the price. It is more durable and energy efficient than other insulation materials, and it expands and contracts as temperatures shift. It can also be safely installed over heat cables or heat tape. – House DiY Oct 20 '19 at 1:46
  • So far, lowest temp in crawlspace is 28F and heat tape without insulation is working just fine. – House DiY Jan 20 '20 at 0:39

I am successfully using heat tape on the black PE pipe with no insulation. I sealed the basement further and it didn't get down too bad, even on a very cold day. Heat tape successfully prevents well pipe from freezing up.

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