Heat Cable / Tape for water pipes


Old 01-17-04, 08:35 AM
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Heat Cable / Tape for water pipes

My home has an unheated basement and the temperatures have recently approached -20. Has anyone used heating cable/tape on their water pipes? My questions are: Is is safe?, Is one type better than another? and should pipe insulation be used over it? Thanks, Steve.
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Old 01-18-04, 09:35 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 1,873

This link shows a product that can help solve the problem with freezing pipes. It also has certain features that other solutions do not. First and foremost, the average do-it-your-selfer can install one. It has a thermostat that measures the temperature of the water that triggers the circulation of the water. It would not be that difficult to install a remote thermostat in the area of concern (crawl space and/or basement) on the water pipes to initiate the circulation. There is also a timer that you can set that only allows the the pump to work at the times you want it to. So if you experience freezing pipes only in the early morning hours, you can set the timer for those hours only. There is also a switch that turns off the unit, like during the times when you are not worried about freezing pipes. The "On" position keeps the hot water at your faucets constant so you do not have to wait for hot water. And the you have the "Timer" position on this switch.

So this product provides you with options that others do not. For example, let's say you wake up fairly early in the morning at five and you take a shower then and then by seven no-one is home using hot water. You set the timer to come on and go off at those times. During the weekend, everyones home, you move the switch from timer to the on position. In the summer, you move the switch to the off position. So this product can do more for you than just prevent freezing pipes. What I like about this product is that once it is installed, you can adjust it to meet your family's life style.

I usually recommend you insulate both the hot and cold water pipes you have access to.
Old 01-19-04, 07:16 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
circulating pump

I have always wondered how someone might accomplish what this does. I am impressed. It seems worthwhile just to cut the cost of waiting for the hot water to arrive at the sink, to say nothing of its keeping pipes from freezing without wasting water.
Old 01-23-04, 09:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 344
Basements and crawlspaces need ridiculously cold temps to drop below freezing.

I tend to turn off my heat when I go to work. Returned home one time and the house was 36 degrees, the basement was 40 something. Think the outside was in the low teens.

I am in the midst of extensive repairs and the exterior siding was removed at joist level. Since there isn't a rim joist on this house, there was just a foot or two of air separating my new supply piping from the outside, for a few cavities.

I put some water in a plastic pop bottle and never saw any evidence of freezing. Not even a frosting.

Yes, I was nervous, so a faucet was left slightly on, to drip.

Before you expend serious money on this, consider all the options. In the meantime, put a small amounts of water in Evian bottles and place them around the perimeter of the basement. Watch them for freezing.

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