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Old 10-09-2011, 10:51 PM   #31
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


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i wouldnt use cheap foam on boiler lines.
Do you say that because you believe it's inferior due to its price relative to other materials, or because you have some other knowledge of it?

I apologize if that comes across wrong, I appreciate all opinions, I'm just trying to figure out if this just your gut feeling, or because you know something about it.

Also, I am using fiberglass pipe wrap on all the main first floor heating lines that are 1-1/4" and 1-1/2", because they are too large for foam. The exception being the 1/2" iron pipes that break off the main lines to feed the individual convectors. For the second floor it's 3/4" copper, they don't have any of the fiberglass that small, and in addition the pipe runs very tight to the joists, I can just barely get the foam slipped over it as is, FG would never work.

As for fire hazard... I'll be honest, I'm not that worried about that. Even assuming the boiler somehow malfunctioned and managed to heat up to say 240*, that is well below ignition point for anything, and if I have flames near this foam I have bigger problems.


Last edited by bubbler; 10-09-2011 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 10-09-2011, 11:13 PM   #32
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


BTW, the reason to do this in my opinion is two-fold:

1) Reduce fuel use (get more heat to the baseboards/convectors and faster hot water to the taps). In addition to the pipe insulation, I'm learning more about my system, next summer I will definitely plan to lower the aquastat low/high limits. There was no reason to keep it set to 180/200*F this past summer, I could have easily gotten away with 150/170* for domestic hot water.

2) Increase comfort ... if my convectors are averaging 140* w/o insulation, I might see 150* with, because there is nearly 150' of black pipe down there... on a cold day my cats press themselves against the basement door because the basement is actually staying warmer with all those pipes exposed then the first floor. I also have a ~30' run from my boiler to the bathroom taps and ~20' to the kitchen taps. By insulating those pipes I keep the slug of water in them hotter for a longer period, the result is potentially faster use of the water instead of waiting for a gallon or so of cold/warm water to flow before the hot stuff gets there.
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Old 10-10-2011, 12:53 AM   #33
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


Nothing to do with the price. Sometimes it gets knocked around under a house, and gets too close to a halogen light, and it basically disintegrates from the heat.

The cheap open cell foam insulation is not intended for high temp applications.
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Old 10-10-2011, 08:42 AM   #34
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
Nothing to do with the price. Sometimes it gets knocked around under a house, and gets too close to a halogen light, and it basically disintegrates from the heat.

The cheap open cell foam insulation is not intended for high temp applications.
It's a good point, but a halogen bulb is going to be at least 2-3X hotter than the boiler pipes (Halogen Bulbs, looks like 250*C to 600*C).

Looking again, I see they do have the fiberglass insulation for 1/2" and 3/4" pipes listed on their website, I must have missed it in the store. It's 8-9X more expensive per foot than the foam, but if it will be safer (for work lights, future torch plumbing repairs, etc) it's worth it.
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Old 10-24-2011, 06:18 PM   #35
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


Your forum popped up in response to my simple Google query, “what is the r value of pipe insulation”. I’m surprised that there seemed to be no mention or reference to the FTC’s R-Value Rule, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/rulemaking/rvalue/index.shtml , the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International C680-10, http://www.astm.org/Standards/C680.htm , or even Wikipedia’s page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_insulation , where it states, “R-values of pipe insulation are not covered by the US FTC R-value rule”. Those interested in flammability issues might benefit from reading “Flammability of Plastics and Polymers…” (Paul A Kittle, Ph.D., April, 1993), www.aquafoam.com/papers/flammability.pdf . Having said all that, I found this helpful generalized site: “Insulating Your Hot Water Pipes…”. Having been in maintenance for over 25 years, I realize that there is a difference between the technical information that we should understand, and the simplified (kiss), condensed version that we must convey to management, customers, and personality-type A’s. It’s your decision. -William
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:34 AM   #36
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


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Having said all that, I found this helpful generalized site: “Insulating Your Hot Water Pipes…”.
Thanks MaintMan

I had seen that site before, it's a nice write up. It's what got me hunting around for thicker insulation types.

I have a few priorities as to insulating pipes:

1) Protect pipes in attic unconditioned space from freezing when not in use
2) Stop wasting heat (money) in places it doesn't belong
3) Keep heat in the pipes for faster DHW and heat at the convectors

For #1 I insulated the pipes in my attic space with those 2' fiberglass pipe insulators and wrap around foil-covered fiberglass for the areas that weren't straight pipes. I also draped and tucked the R13 FG batts being installed in my knee wall--the idea there to put the pipes inside the thermal envelope (even tho really, because FG is so air permeable, it won't work out very well). Ultimately I'd like to box in the pipes using 2x3's, plywood and FG, but that will have to wait until I have more time (Thanksgiving week).

For #2 & #3 I insulated my DHW pipes in the basement w/ the cheap R-2.2 foam and my heating pipes (also in basement) with a combination of both the 2' FG and the R-2.2 foam.

I haven't really noticed any difference in the speed that my DHW arrives at the bathroom taps. I also think that this effort to insulate heating pipes is going to literally be a drop in the savings bucket compared to the air sealing and other insulation work I'm doing.

The big push for me was really #1 ... last year when the house was vacant over the winter we left both heating zones set at 58*F. This year our usage model is very different, since we're living here we want the second floor to be warmer, but we don't necessarily want to run the central heat to produce the temperatures we want, so we're supplementing with a small electric radiator to keep the room up to the 68-70* we want. However, since the radiator and the central heat thermostat for 2nd floor are in the same room that means the 2nd floor central heat will probably not be kicking on much (if at all), that's why I'm now concerned about freezing pipes. I think a potential fix for this is to relocate the thermostat outside of our bedroom, that way the 2nd floor central heat can be set at ~62*F (or something low) and kick on/off as needed (keeping pipes warm), I just haven't done that yet.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:31 PM   #37
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Pipe insulation: Foam, Rubber, Other?


Hi all. First time poster here. I found this thread while doing a Google search on the foam pipe insulation. I bought a house two years ago that was built in 2003. I'm in South Carolina and never thought I'd have frozen water pipes, but I've had that the last two winters. All of my water lines are PEX, and they run through the attic. The insulation in the attic is blown in fiberglass. None of the water pipes are insulated, and the contractor did a bad job with the blown in insulation. So my plan is to insulate all the water piping running through the attic, both hot and cold. I'm going to use the Armacell self-sealing foam insulation from Home Depot. I thought everything was going to be plain and simple, but then in this thread I'm reading about condensation on the cold water lines. Should I reconsider insulation the cold water lines? I planned on doing this next week but will now hold off until someone can give me a definitive answer about the cold water condensation. Thanks for any help!
While I'm insulating the pipes, I have to replace all the rafter vents and clean out the soffit vents. Gotta love contractors who could care less about quality....

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