Water Heater Rescue: Know-How, Troubleshooting, Anodes graphic

Tanklets > Insulating Piping

Q: What say you? My house is set up with two 40 gal. tanks in parallel (I only turn on one at a time)in the basement. Most of my pipes are 1/2 copper and there are a few long runs (maybe 40'-50' from the heater to the faucets/showers). Basement is unfinished/unheated but probably never goes below 65 degrees. Does it make sense to insulate the hot water pipes or is it a solution to a non-problem?

A: A resounding yes. It's been proven that a great part of the inefficiency in a water heating system lies not with the heater, but with the distribution system. You lose most of the heat you've put in at the water heater in the piping carrying the water to the shower, and then when the water runs down the drain. -- Randy

A1: X2. -- Ej

A2: Hello: Insulation is particularly useful for the second hot water draw. The first draw has to flush out cooled water, but if there is sufficient insulation, the water then cools so slowly, your second draw gives hot water almost immediately. Suggest you use 1/2" insulation with 3/4" thick walls. Seal any air leaks -- Larry

Q1: What is the best way to do this? My copper pipes run mostly perpendicular to and touch the bottom of the floor joists. I've seen the insulation you slip over the pipes but with the pipes touching the floor joists every 16 inches it wouldn't be simple to install.

A3: Hello: Often pipe insulation comes pre-slit down its length with an adhesive along the cut. This is covered by a plastic film. Once the insulation is in place you pull off the film. So, in your case, put the slit up and using a razor knife or sharp kitchen knife, notch the insulation to fit around the joists. You might want to use some zip ties also as the adhesive doesn't always continue to hold. Insulation shrinks a bit with time, so put in in a bit snug. -- Larry (1/22/12)