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The house is 25 years old, located in South Wales, UK. Previous owners made a total mess of the attic space, taking up rolled insulation all over the place to cut holes for suspect plumbing but that's another story. I'm replacing the rolled insulation but I'm unclear whether to insulate under the cold water tanks?

I cannot tell if the house originally had insulation under the tank, there are bits stuffed under there which could be the remains of the original insulation or just where previous owners put stuff out the way. The tank is elevated slightly, about 450mm above the ceiling below and has it's own insulation on the top and sides.

There are two uninsulated pipes running under the tank which I believe arent original and are part of the suspect plumbing (surely all pipes in loft should be insulated?). As part of the project I am also attaching insulation to these pipes but may struggle to reach the full length under the tank, potentially leaving some small parts exposed.

Water tanks above ceiling

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  • You store cold water in tanks in the UK?
    – TylerH
    Jan 12, 2021 at 15:16
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    Indeed, I've seen many explanations but they were basically standard pre-2000. They're no longer required in newer houses but depends on the type of hot water heating system installed. Jan 15, 2021 at 16:14

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You shouldn't insulate under the tank (unless the loft is fully insulated on the inside of the roof, with reduced but suitable ventilation - highly unlikely given what you've said. This is to keep the tank from freezing.

The heat rising from the house is enough to keep the tank from freezing in typical southern UK winters (I'm in Cardiff at the moment, and live in Bristol, so share your climate).

The tank should be insulated - so they got that right at least. This is typically pretty thin insulation and could be topped up. Uninsulated pipes under the tank aren't a big worry. That air shouldn't get below freezing. There's a chance they're overflow pipes, or feed/expansion for a stored hot water system if you have one, both of which are less prone to damage from freezing. I'd insulate them anyway.

What I would do (have done) is form a skirt of insulation around the tank support, so you can't see underneath it. This will reduce heat loss from the room underneath, and protect the tank slightly better by holding the warm air under it. This is a little tricky on the side nearest the hatch in your photos, but some can be stuffed (not tightly) a little way under the tank shelf.

In colder climates and other systems, trace heat sources can be used to protect plumbing in the loft, but prolonged periods below freezing are very rare for us, and tend to be sunny leading to solar gain and a warmer loft.

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    The original builders may have stuffed a little into the edges of the space under the tank. If so they were better than mine. My house is a similar age and I've been there since 2006. I could see the top of the upstairs ceiling over quite a wide area, and they hadn't even insulated under the boarded section between the tank and the hatch. I topped up the insulation to 250mm and boarded nearly half the loft
    – Chris H
    Jan 12, 2021 at 12:30
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    I'm in Cardiff and from Bristol too so this is a perfect explanation and great solution. I'll go with the skirt idea Jan 12, 2021 at 14:32

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