insulation and heat wrap

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by caberjim, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    A couple months ago we bought a house that is on cinderblock piers with a 2 foot crawlspace. The crawlspace is exposed, no sides to it. I was exploring under it yesterday trying to find out why the bathroom and utility room floors were so cold. Turns out, those areas are missing some insulation. I found electric heat tape wrapped around the waste/drain pipes and I assume the removed the insulation to put the tape on. It looks to be several years old and was not plugged in. I would rather have the floors insulated and let the warmth of the house keep the pipes from freezing. We're in Maryland and it does not deep freeze very often - tho it was 10 degrees this morning. I'm thinking wrap the pipes in a jacket and stuff fiberglass insulation up in there. My wife disagrees - she argues that the heat from the wood stove rises, and the floor will stay cold regardless and therefore the pipes will not be getting warmth from the house.

    The other thing I want to do is close in the sides of the crawlspace with insulation. That should keep out the wind and some of the cold.

    Any thoughts or advice?
     
  2. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    I think your wife is right. Heat rises. You cannot count on the pipes getting heat from the house so long as the crawlspace is open on 4 sides. That heat tape is pretty important. I would keep it on and plug it in. Enclose that crawlspace as soon as you can.

    Is there a reason why you can't have both the insulation and the heat tape? So long as the insulation is not flammable, that is.

    -Jack
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The insulation will surely help with the cold floor.

    I'm guessing from your description that the pipes run under the floor joists and not between them.

    I am also guessing that the pipes froze at some time in the past. I wonder if the former owners used an extention cord to plug in the pipe tape. The missing insulation may be the reason the pipes didn't freeze again; perhaps, the heat from the bathroom floor prevented it. If you fill in the space with fiberglass insulation, the pipes may freeze again, or you could need to use the heat tape.

    Do these pipes run under the whole house, or just beneath the bathroom???

    If the pipes are against the floor joists or in between, I suggest you use radiant foil to cover both the exposed bathroom floor section and the pipes. This will make an incredible difference on the bathroom floor, and keep the pipes inside the insulated space. While the radiant foil is pricey, a small space like a bathroom would cost less than $25. Home dippy sells it by the roll in different widths. A stapler is all you need to install it, and its less messy than the fibreglass.
     
  4. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Reinulating will surely help.

    The pipes will not get much 'room heat' but if they are insulated, they gain heat from any water you run through them.... The insulation keeps that heat in the pipe.

    --->Paul
     
  5. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    The pipes do run between the floor joists. These pipes run just underneath the bathroom and utility room (washer). The are 3 inch pvc and bigger, so the standard pipe sleeves will not fit. My thought was wrapping the pipes with foam stripping and putting thick fiberglass insulation back in.

    Just got a call from my wife - the tube will not drain. She went outside and she says the pipe sounds solid. She's turned on the heat tape. Apparently 9 degrees is the magic number for the drain.
     
  6. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    Is the drain pipe pitched for proper drainage? Use the heat tape and insulate. When you get some good weather make permanent repairs.
     
  7. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    TekFoil/Astrofoil/FBBF and the like tacked on to the bottom of the joists could do wonders for you, stopping heat loss, keeping the pipe's warmer and stop drafts.

    I would then skirt the 'foundation'. Just be sure to let it breath come the warm seasons.

    -Walter
    in Vermont
    where we take our
    insulation seriously... :)
     
  8. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    Update - the u-bend of the bathtub is outside the house below the floor and between the joists. And there was no insulation on it whatsoever. The previous owners wrapped heat tape around the entire drain pipe instead of insulating. 15 minutes with a blowdryer unfroze the obstruction. I wrapped the u-bend with insulating wrap, then put R-30 insulation between the joists. No problems since then. Plus, the floors in utility and bath rooms are much warmer.