How to insulate your pipes in 3 simple steps

As you make plans for holiday travel to see family and friends, don’t forget about your plumbing. Extreme temperatures during winter could lead to a household disaster if your pipes aren’t properly insulated.

A qualified plumber or handyman can insulate your home’s plumbing for between $200 and $1,000, depending on the extent of your exposed piping.

We interviewed Gerald Richard, a plumber from Fargo, N.D., and Yvonne “Grandma” Costin, a handywoman from Denver, to give you an idea of what’s involved with insulating a home’s pipes.

1. Locate all exposed cold waterline piping in your home. These pipes can be in your basement, crawl space and garage. Wrap only cold waterlines — not hot. Costin says, “Wrapping hot waterlines may melt the insulation you wrap the pipes in. If you do choose to wrap your hot waterlines, you need to make sure the product you use is made for it.”

2. Use a polyethylene pipe sleeve, which is available at most hardware stores, wrap exposed pipes with the slit side facing the floor. Sections of the piping sleeve may need cuts to fit turns and corners. For frigid areas with exposed piping, Richard says, “The pipes may need to be wrapped in an electrical heating tape, then the polyethylene sleeve over that.”

3. Using duct tape, tape off all slits, exposed cracks and corners on the piping sleeve.


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