Insulating Cold Water Pipes in Crawl Space - Yes or No


Old 01-18-08, 07:53 AM
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Insulating Cold Water Pipes in Crawl Space - Yes or No

My first thought was that insulating the cold water pipes in my crawl space with foam jackets would help prevent them from freezing during cold spells (particularly at the end of long runs near the perimeter of the foundation and/or to garden faucets).

Since the crawlspace is somewhat warmer than outside, due to heat loss from the floor and heat pump ducting (North Carolina)...I'm now wondering whether it might be better to leave most of the pipe uninsulated (or maybe just insulated the ends near the foundation wall) that ambient heat from the general crawl space can help heat the pipes up....

Not sure which part of the heat flow dynamics has the bigger impact...any thoughts...?
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Old 01-18-08, 08:28 AM
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Unless you are worried about the pipes sweating and causing water damage, I would only insulate the hot lines with polyfoam insulation. I am sure you will get different opinions, all will be within reason, its your choice. Good luck!
Old 01-18-08, 06:44 PM
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Just keep in mind that insulation does not add heat. Some people think insulation is some freeze-problem cure-all. It only SLOWS the temp change from the potential. That is why in cold-country, people with susceptible pipes will use Frostex or comparable heat tape wrapped around the pipe and THEN wrap that with insulation, and plug in the heat tape.

For example: if one lived in Wisconsin and this person tried to insulate pipes under the cabin's crawl space and went away for days and came back - they'd come back to frozen pipes that then would require removal of the wrap ( a real pain) to better be able to heat them up to thaw them out. (Or, rent a torpedo heater or 2 and set them under there to thaw out the pipes.)

Just keep this in mind. Where you live, such a scenario may or may not apply.
Old 01-19-08, 02:19 PM
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I would be inclined to add a little heat to the crawl space. Even a 100 watt lightbulb gives off quite a bit of heat or maybe a heat lamp set up on a timer would do the trick.
Old 01-24-08, 07:57 AM
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Thanks for the feedback....been away for a few days.....excellent points....I think I've concluded that by leaving the cold water pipes uninsulated in the crawlspace I allow ambient temps in the crawlspace(which tend to stay above freezing to warm the bulk of the cold water pipes). I added styrofoam caps to the outside faucets and insulated a couple of feet of the pipe near the coldest walls....the theory being that that will slow the loss of heat at the faucet due to outside exposure. Meanwhile the bulk of the uninsulated piping (copper) which is deeper in the crawlspace should remain above freezing..and perhaps will conduct at least some of that residual heat along the pipe to the areas out near the walls/faucets....time will tell.

Thanks again for the feedback...

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