How Much Does It Cost to Insulate Your Pipes?
If a cracked or burst pipe features highly on your list of potential plumbing nightmares, it could be time to insulate your pipes.
Installing pipe insulation is a quick and affordable home upgrade that could prevent major leaks and even trim your energy bills. However, it’s going to cost you a little chunk of change up front. Here’s what to expect.
Pipe insulation is a layer of material wrapped around your pipes to protect them from the environment. Some types of pipe insulation dampen excessive plumbing noises, although this is rarely an issue in most residential buildings. Instead, pipe insulation used in the home usually prevents the water inside the pipes from freezing.
Water expands when it freezes, which can lead to cracks in the pipe material. Installing insulation can guard against bursts or leaking pipes. It also prevents condensation from forming on cold-water pipes, which could become an issue if the condensation drips onto carpets, soft furnishings and other materials prone to water damage.
Another advantage of installing pipe insulation is that it prevents heat loss by keeping as much warmth as possible inside the pipe. Reducing heat loss can help you minimize how much you spend on heating.
The most common type of pipe insulation is foam insulation. Foam insulation often comes in strips that you tape around your pipes, although some brands have adhesive along the edges. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to install spray foam insulation. Spray insulation can be a good option for filling gaps between pipework and exterior walls.
Fiberglass pipe covers are an alternative to traditional foam pipe insulation. You'll usually only need fiberglass insulation if your water is unusually hot because it can cope with extremely high temperatures.
Insulating your hot water pipes is usually worth it because it helps keep your water hot and your energy costs down. You should also consider insulating your cold water pipes if you live in an area with cold winters to avoid the risk of cracked pipes. Otherwise, you could end up spending significantly more on plumbing repairs than it costs to insulate pipes.
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How much it costs to insulate pipes partly depends on whether you install it yourself or hire a professional installer. As you might expect, doing it yourself is the cheapest option. Hunker estimates the total cost of materials to install pipe insulation at around $100 to $150 (CAD 130 to CAD 200), although you could spend more if your house is larger than average.
You can purchase rolls of insulation online and from most DIY stores. Costs vary by brand and material, but foam pipe insulation is usually the cheapest option. As an example, a 6-foot roll of foam insulation costs less than $3 (CAD 4) from The Home Depot. Fiberglass pipe insulation is more expensive, costing just under $8 (CAD 11) for a 3-foot roll. You'll also need to buy duct tape or cable ties to attach the insulation unless you purchase self-sealing strips or solid pipe covers.
Professional insulation installers charge around 25 to 50 cents (CAD 0.30 to CAD 0.70) per square foot. However, they may charge higher labor fees for spray foam insulation because it's more time-consuming to prepare and install. You should also expect to pay higher rates if you live in an expensive area or if your pipes are challenging or dangerous to access.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, installing pipe insulation reduces heating costs by 3% to 4% per year. With the average American family set to spend around $930 (CAD 1,240) on natural gas heating between October 2022 and March 2023, installing pipe insulation could save you between $28 and $37 (CAD 37 and CAD 49) over a single winter.
Households using more expensive fuels could save significantly more. For example, households using propane gas for heating could reduce their expected $1,670 (CAD 2,219) fuel bill by between $50 and $67 (CAD 67 and CAD 89). Therefore, installing pipe insulation could pay for itself in as little as two to three years in some cases.
All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.
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