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Old 01-07-2016, 06:36 PM   #1
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Heat tape on pipes? Safe

In a home where a previous owner installed a 1st floor half bath on an exterior wall. The pipes are located in a crawl space and they freeze in the winter if I do not shut off the water to these pipes. Got an estimate on contractor replacing the door to the crawl space which is beat up. He also suggested adding heat tape to the pipes. Your thoughts on the use of heat tape? The home inspector we used 7 years ago said he would never use it. In hindsight, I am not sure how informed his opinion was, on a number of matters including that one. As always, thanks for taking a look!



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Old 01-07-2016, 07:08 PM   #2
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Of course it's always best to address and fix the issue which is causing the pipes to freeze.

Imo, heat tape is safe to use if you follow the manufacturers guidelines. What happens is some people plug them in and forget about them, which may cause fires, shorts, etc. Just my thoughts.


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Old 01-07-2016, 08:16 PM   #3
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In my estimation it's one of the most safe electrical pieces of equipment there is when installed correctly. May I suggest self regulating so it can be over lapped if necessary. Your local fire department may have information on the safety aspects and records.

With adequate fire rated insulation 3 watts per foot will usually handle most freezing problems but of course A/C power failure would always be a problem.
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Old 01-08-2016, 07:18 AM   #4
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There are conditions when a heat tape is the only/best solution, but I advise it to be the last choice. I have found heat tapes that were installed by a previous owner and forgotten, 24/7/365 for many years. These were just "on" no stat or self regulating. Today the quality is better and of course those instructions need to be followed as stated.

But, there are often ways to encapsulate that crawlspace and eliminate all concerns. Details and pictures if you want to consider that approach.

Note, when insulating pipes to keep them from freezing, insulate between the cold and the pipes, but do not insulate between the pipes and their source of heat. A lot depends upon on how cold that crawlspace gets or if the problem is primarily against the outside wall.

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