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Foam covers for hot water lines, necessary

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  • Jan 16th, 2023 3:34 pm
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Dec 27, 2017
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Foam covers for hot water lines, necessary

As the thread title says.

My parents place used to have these foam covers that go over the hot water lines (presumably to prevent temperature loss from tank to faucet), at least in the basement where I could see. When my SO and I bought our house I noticed that the hot water lines did not have the foam covers.

Would it be wise to invest in some covers? What is the potential temperature loss in the water from tank to faucet if left uncovered?
22 replies
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Jun 13, 2010
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The foam covers are called foam pipe insulation. I don't think they will make a noticeable difference.
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Jul 7, 2017
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Might be worth insulating for the 1st M or 2 nearest the water tank as there might be some heat loss especially if the pipes are copper. If you run a recirculating pump, probably worth insulating the whole circuit.
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Deal Fanatic
Dec 19, 2009
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jgaleazza wrote: As the thread title says.

My parents place used to have these foam covers that go over the hot water lines (presumably to prevent temperature loss from tank to faucet), at least in the basement where I could see. When my SO and I bought our house I noticed that the hot water lines did not have the foam covers.

Would it be wise to invest in some covers? What is the potential temperature loss in the water from tank to faucet if left uncovered?
If you are from Ontario the Ontario Building Code also requires the first 8 feet of piping out of a storage type water heater to be insulated.

Screenshot 2023-01-11 at 13-00-19 Is It Really Worth Insulating My Pipes Efficient Systems.png

Screenshot 2023-01-11 at 13-00-57 Pipe Insulation Is it Worth it in Your Home.png
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Mar 13, 2004
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I feel like this was more of a thing back in the day when homes had little to no insulation and pipes being near outside walls it was a good idea to do this or at least one of the reasons. We have an older home and we have some pipe insulation that I put on our copper lines but that was only because somebody was going house to house and giving that out + water efficient shower heads etc.

If your water pipes are on an outside wall and the wall is cold due to little to no insulation then yes you may want to add the insulation just to help a little. If that's not the case then its up to you, it may help a little but probably not assuming the pipes are in a warm utility room already.
jgaleazza wrote: As the thread title says.

My parents place used to have these foam covers that go over the hot water lines (presumably to prevent temperature loss from tank to faucet), at least in the basement where I could see. When my SO and I bought our house I noticed that the hot water lines did not have the foam covers.

Would it be wise to invest in some covers? What is the potential temperature loss in the water from tank to faucet if left uncovered?
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Jul 29, 2006
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My HW tank was at the complete other end of where the main water consumption is which are the kitchen on main floor, MB bath and main bath on the second floor. I have PEX with a manifold at the end that all the feeds go to.I covered the entire line from the tank to the manifold. It made a difference while the water was in casual use and the water was still warmish in the morning. It made a difference for me, especially in winter when the basement was cooler.
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May 21, 2015
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I put it on my hot water lines from the tank to the kitchen faucet/dishwasher and it helped. I would have gone further but the rest of the lines to the bathroom and laundry on the ground floor and the bathrooms on the 2nd floor were not accessible. I was mostly concerned about the dishwasher first and foremost because that's where having hot 120+ water is important and it can cool down between cycles. Not all dishwashers heat their water.
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Jun 24, 2015
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pootza wrote: If you are from Ontario the Ontario Building Code also requires the first 8 feet of piping out of a storage type water heater to be insulated.


Screenshot 2023-01-11 at 13-00-19 Is It Really Worth Insulating My Pipes Efficient Systems.png



Screenshot 2023-01-11 at 13-00-57 Pipe Insulation Is it Worth it in Your Home.png
can you use those foam covers on plex piping too or just copper?
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Dec 21, 2020
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GoodFellaz wrote: can you use those foam covers on plex piping too or just copper?
You can. I also use them to separate the hot and cold lines anywhere they were touching to give them a thermal break. Also for Pex anywhere it's exposed to sunlight (around windows) as the UV can affect the pex pipe and cause it to breakdown faster.
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pex is covered by insulation and drywall in my house so its not exposed to the sunlight, the only part exposed to light is in my furnace room and it is a light bulb that i turn on 4 times a year, not enough to cause the pex pipe to break down fast, right?
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Aug 15, 2009
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GoodFellaz wrote: pex is covered by insulation and drywall in my house so its not exposed to the sunlight, the only part exposed to light is in my furnace room and it is a light bulb that i turn on 4 times a year, not enough to cause the pex pipe to break down fast, right?
Right lol
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
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I'll toss out a different perspective.

Insulation helps something retain heat, it does not generate heat. Over time, your hot water pipe with the foam insulation will lose all its heat even if insulated. If you are using the hot water infrequently, it will have completely cooled off regardless of what you do. Insulation works well when you are continuously circulating hot water through the pipes, not when it sits for 8 hours.
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TrevorK wrote: I'll toss out a different perspective.

Insulation helps something retain heat, it does not generate heat. Over time, your hot water pipe with the foam insulation will lose all its heat even if insulated. If you are using the hot water infrequently, it will have completely cooled off regardless of what you do. Insulation works well when you are continuously circulating hot water through the pipes, not when it sits for 8 hours.
True. The insulation isn't going to do much to keep something warm that is cold most of the time. Even if the water is a degree or two less by the time it reaches the shower, dishwasher or washing machine it won't really be noticeable or make much of a difference. The dishes will be cleaned just as well with 139 vs 141 degree water. It would have a much bigger impact on heat retention to put a thermal blanket on your electric hot water tank to reduce heat loss to your hot water.
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Dec 19, 2009
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tew wrote: True. The insulation isn't going to do much to keep something warm that is cold most of the time. Even if the water is a degree or two less by the time it reaches the shower, dishwasher or washing machine it won't really be noticeable or make much of a difference. The dishes will be cleaned just as well with 139 vs 141 degree water. It would have a much bigger impact on heat retention to put a thermal blanket on your electric hot water tank to reduce heat loss to your hot water.
Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2°F–4°F hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing you to lower your water temperature setting. You also won't have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.
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Jan 27, 2006
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pootza wrote: Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2°F–4°F hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing you to lower your water temperature setting. You also won't have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.
Also in a tank situation, by insulating the first 6 feet/2m out of the tank, you actually increase the efficiency of the tank as the hot water in the tank won't circulate into the pipe and back out as it cools as much contributing to the overall efficiency of the tank even with PEX.
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Feb 13, 2021
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My tank's exit pipe rose vertically so I added a double-U bend in the pipe with a bunch of 90 degree fittings to prevent convection current rising far up into the pipe. The hot water convection would not rise past the first 180 degree turn. I insulated all the pipe, using cut-up pieces of pipe insulation taped together to go around the pressure relief valve and anything else hot sticking out of the tank. Overkill, maybe, but I had the materials and the time.
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can you put that pipe insulation over pex piping coming off your hot water tank or must it be copper only?
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Deal Addict
Nov 2, 2011
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Foam insulation on copper hot water pipe is not necessary. Insulation on the cold pipes however, should be done, if you are hiding them behind dry wall. Moisture tends to develop on the cold water pipes, not on hot water. If you have pex, not necessary.
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You can do Pex also. Have never seen any negative reason to put it on pex
GoodFellaz wrote: can you put that pipe insulation over pex piping coming off your hot water tank or must it be copper only?
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Jun 26, 2009
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congo wrote: My HW tank was at the complete other end of where the main water consumption is which are the kitchen on main floor, MB bath and main bath on the second floor. I have PEX with a manifold at the end that all the feeds go to.I covered the entire line from the tank to the manifold. It made a difference while the water was in casual use and the water was still warmish in the morning. It made a difference for me, especially in winter when the basement was cooler.
In the winter my basement is the warmest room in the house. Yes I sealed my ductwork, it's still the warmest spot.

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