Foam Pipe Insulation R Values Explained

Foam pipe insulation has different insulating factors which are known as R values. A foam pipe insulation’s R value can tell you a lot about how well the material protects the area from exposure to cold. Foam pipe insulation is used to protect the pipes in your home that deliver both hot and cold water. Understanding the different R values or insulation factors that are used is helpful information to have, particularly if you are ever considering the installation of foam pipe insulation as a do-it-yourself project.

Minimum R-Values for Hot Water Pipes

The minimum R value that should be used for pipes that carry hot water in your home is between 3.5 and 4. If you performed a test of pipes insulated with a R value of 4, 2 and no insulation for a period of 5 minutes you would find that the pipe with the R-4 insulation value holds heat for a period that is longer than the R-2 and R-0 pipe. Additionally, you will find that the pipe with an R value of 4 gets hotter in the initial minute of the test (105 degrees, versus 102 degrees for the R-2 pipe and 95 degrees for the R-0 insulated pipe).

The converse would hold true for cold water pipes, indicating that the higher the R value for the pipe, the better the insulating factor.