Adding Heat Tape to your Water Lines
Old man winter will soon be upon us and we all know what that means, bitter cold, ice and snow. It also means you should probably be checking or installing insulation and heat tape on those water lines.
A water line that freezes and busts can be a troublesome and expensive
mishap not only to the line itself but possibly to the surrounding structures. Fortunately, there are some good options to choose from to help prevent any future problems.
Firstly, there are freeze alarms that can be installed to warn you when your lines reach a critically low temperature. The alarm itself is installed inside your home with a cord attached and running to your water line. The installation is fairly simple and straight forward, but as always follow the manufactures recommendations and instructions. However, an alarm simply isn’t going to be enough need to protect the lines as well.
Two Types of Heat Tape
Most mobile homes today have some sort of plastic-like water lines like PEX or PVC. When selecting your heat tape and insulation you need to be sure that your getting a product approved for your particular application.
Silicone Heat Tape
There are two types of heat tape available for manufactured homes. The first type is a one-piece flat heat tape with a rubber or silicone coating. When installed, it must never overlap itself and the heat tape must run flat along the pipe. Locate the thermostat on the end of the pipe that will be the coldest. This particular heat tape is coated in rubber and resist moisture which helps it to last longer. Typically heat tape can last 3 to 5 years, but should be checked seasonally.
Heating Elements Plus advice on choosing the right heat tape for PVC pipe:
PVC pipe is usually rated as being able to withstand temperatures between 140 to 160°F. The trick is to insure the heat trace cable will maintain the contents within the PVC pipe at a desired temperature, but never to approach the pipe rating temperature. Depending on the heat loss characteristics of a specific pipe system, manufacturers generally limit heat cable below 6 watts per foot.
Braided Heat Tape
The second type of heat tape is a braided type of heat tape. This heat tape is sold by the foot, which can make it hard to judge exactly how much you will need. In Addition you must also purchase two ends to install on either end of the tape. When installed, it is wrapped around the pipe and can safely be overlapped without worry, which makes it safer to use. A down side to using this type of heat tape is that it has no rubber coating, the heat tape tends to rust and stop working due to the lack of a moisture barrier. Most contractors like to use this type of tape as they can buy it in large quantities and use only whats needed on any particular job.
Insulating Your Water Lines
Even though you have installed the correct heat tape its still recommended to use a good quality insulation. To do this simply start at one end a wrap the water line being careful not to make your wraps to tight. Another important step is your moisture barrier, you install it the same way as the insulation just be sure to wrap the line in the opposite direction you used for the insulation being careful to not pull to tight. A nice snug uniform fit is what you trying achieve.
Good Ideas to Keep in Mind
- If your using an extension cord to power your heat tape be sure its rated for outdoor use.
- Its also recommended that use a GFCI outlet to power your heat tape.
Thank you for reading Mobile and Manufactured Home Living!
Image Source: Heating Elements Plus