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.

Learn more about  plumbing in mobile homes.

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

Silicone-Heat-Tape for pvcThere 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.


fiberglass_heat tapeBraided 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.


Learn more about installing heat tape from Foremost Insurance.

two methods of installing heat tape

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.

Fiberglass Pipe Wrap at Amazon

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

  1. Katie says

    We have a single wide 1972 mobile home. All new pex piping throughout, no copper left at all. Located in Northeast USA. We do not have heat going through duct work under the home. Which type of heat tape is safe on pex piping? All instructions I’m finding on heat tapes say not for pex. Some research I’ve done has said that it is due to the adhesives used to attach the heat tape and an alternative it to use zip ties, is this true?

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Katie,

      I’m not familiar with heat tape that would use any adhesive. Pex doesn’t either but if there’s some new product I’m not familiar with then zip ties sounds right (they are like duct tape – they work on I’m in WV and SC though so I’m not familiar with how things are done up North. Ya’ll get such cold weather! Best of luck!

  2. trish says

    Can you pices part heat tape> front and back of mobile home. Or do you need to wrap all the pipe from on end to the other? I was told I need 67 ft of heat tape and in the ball park of $1500.00 to $2000.00 Does that sound right>
    Thank you

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Trish,

      This doesn’t sound right at all. At that price you could better insulate your entire home (better skirting, new insulation under the home, etc). Heat tape should only be used temporarily and your power bill would be unbelievable…Do NOT deal with the person that suggested you do this. They are idiots.

  3. Scott says

    Just purchased a 2008 Eagle River mobile home, never lived in before. It’s a double wide, and we are looking to put heat tape on the pipes. We are getting conflicting suggestions as to doing the whole trailer or just to do half.
    What do you all Suggest?

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Scott,

      We only put heat tape on the water line between the ground and the home. The heat from the vents and the protection from the skirting, insulation, and belly wrap is plenty enough to keep our lines flowing (we are in WV so it can get below 10 degrees). The more tape you apply the more you’ll need to worry about but maybe just start off with the exposed line and see if that works.

      Best of luck!

  4. Chuck says

    my heat tape put om 3 years ago, when will have to be replaced?

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Chuck!

      3-5 years is the average. If there’s no exposed wires and it’s still working you should be fine to use it.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.