Knowledge Builders

why do pipes in a radiator system need to be insulated

by Delphia Cummerata IV Published 10 months ago Updated 9 months ago

First, it prevents condensation forming on the pipe. Condensation could drip from the pipe and cause damage to building materials, or create a slip hazard on the floor. The other reason to insulate the suction line, is to prevent the refrigerant in the line from picking up additional heat.

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.

Full Answer

Why insulate your cold water pipes?

Insulation helps you keep your water hot! There are several reasons you’ll want to insulate your cold water pipes if you haven’t already. First, insulating cold water pipes helps protect against freezing. Second, because cold water pipes absorb heat, during the winter they will draw heat from the space around them, assuming this space is insulated.

Why are radiators connected to the same pipe?

Each radiator 'sits' upon the pipe with both radiator connections made to the same pipe. As the heated water from the boiler is fed along the pipe, natural convection (hot water rises) causes the heated water to rise into the radiator displacing cooler water back into the pipe.

How are radiators connected to the boiler?

The heated water from the boiler is fed to one side of every radiator (the feed pipe) while the other end of each radiator is connected to a separate common return pipe. This means that the temperature of the water entering each radiator is more or less the same so each radiator should heat the local environment by the same amount.

Why does the water in the radiator pipe rise?

As the heated water from the boiler is fed along the pipe, natural convection (hot water rises) causes the heated water to rise into the radiator displacing cooler water back into the pipe.

Do radiator pipes need to be insulated?

Benefits. Insulating your water tank, pipes and radiators is a quick and easy way to save money on your bills. Lagging water tanks and pipes and insulating behind radiators reduces the amount of heat lost, so you spend less money heating water up, and hot water stays hotter for longer.

Why is pipe insulation necessary?

Proper insulation around pipes limits heat transfer and provides a vapor barrier against moisture, which improves the thermal efficiency of your home and saves you money. Poorly insulated pipes allow water to condense, which leaves pipes susceptible to standing water that can freeze in cold weather.

Why do the pipes in a steam heating system need to be insulated?

1. Increase Efficiency: Insulating the condensate or hot water return lines reduces heat loss from the water returning to the boiler. The hotter the water returning to the boiler is, the quicker it is to convert back to steam, which takes less energy to accomplish.

Do you need to insulate heating pipes?

Unless the heating design requires insulation of heating pipes, it is not necessary to insulate heating pipes where they run in floor voids within the insulated envelope of the building. Pipes passing through holes or notches in floor joists should be sleeved or wrapped so they can move freely and without noise.

What are 3 reasons to insulate?

Read on to learn more about the top reasons to insulate your home.Maintain a Comfortable Temperature. Air leakage is one of the main reasons that homes can become too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. ... Keep Your Energy Costs Down. ... Reduce Sound and Sleep Better.

Does pipe insulation stop condensation?

We can prevent condensation from occurring by insulating the pipe with enough insulation to keep the air around the pipe from dropping below the dew point.

How do you insulate steam radiator pipes?

A variety of material can be used to insulate steam pipes as well including polyethylene, neoprene foam and fiberglass. Foil-encased bubble wrap, spray-on ceramic coatings and closed-cell rubber insulation are other kinds of steam pipe insulation products.

What insulation is used on steam pipes?

The most common type of insulation is calcium silicate and mineral fibers. Fiber glass (or cellular glass)is another common choice for steam pipe insulation. Both can handle high temperatures and provide a good insulation value.

What is the best insulation for steam pipes?

FiberglassFiberglass has traditionally been the material of choice for most sections of pipe insulation in steam distribution systems.

Should radiator pipes be covered?

Before you rush headlong into hiding away your radiator piping, it may be worth asking yourself if hiding exposed radiator pipes is worth all the trouble. Although you can achieve a neat and tidy finish, hiding your radiator pipes can make it harder to locate leaks if you have them.

How do you insulate around a radiator pipe?

0:483:26How to Insulate Pipes: Weatherization Tips | The Home Depot - YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipTo apply the fiberglass pipe wrap unroll it with the foil side facing upwards slightly overlap theMoreTo apply the fiberglass pipe wrap unroll it with the foil side facing upwards slightly overlap the wrap as you go to ensure the pipe is fully covered. Even around corners and complex angles.

Do all pipes need to be lagged?

Check how much pipe you have that needs lagging. You will also need to check any out buildings such as a garage for pipes as these can easily freeze. Hot, cold and heating pipes will need to be lagged so ensure you measure for all.

Why critical radius of insulation is necessary while plumbing the hot and cold pipes?

As water travels along plumbing lines without insulation, hot water tends to lose heat while cold water gains heat. Introducing pipe insulation greatly diminishes inefficiencies and gains the benefits of lower energy bills and controlled temperatures.

What are the different types of pipe insulation?

Pipe insulation materials come in a large variety of forms, but most materials fall into one of the following categories.Mineral wool. ... Glass wool. ... Flexible elastomeric foams. ... Rigid foam. ... Polyethylene. ... Cellular Glass. ... Aerogel.

What is the difference between hot and cold insulation?

The material in high temperature insulations allows water to enter because the heat will cause the moisture to evaporate. However, in a cold insulation system, the water will not evaporate.

Should I repair a basement before insulating?

Yes, the basement wall and floor repairs should happen before insulating, but I'll suggest opening a new thread to ask about how to approach that.

Can you insulate a basement with batts?

Draping the wide plastic faced batts, made for insulating steel warehouses, down from the top of the walls can be a cheaper way to insulate a unfinished basement. I wouldn’t recommend it for a finished space the potential for condensation problems is fairly high if not detailed right.

Is it better to wrap a parallel pipe with duct insulation or a single pipe?

Wrapping multiple parallel pipe runs with duct insulation can be more cost effective than insulating pipes individually.

How to keep steam pipes warm?

So insulate all the steam pipes you can see. Tuck ‘em in and keep ‘em warm. And remember that the insulation doesn’t have to be fancy to work. You can use something as simple as batt insulation and duct tape if the aesthetics aren’t important to you (who cares what it looks like in that crawl space?). Your goal should be to give steam the best possible chance to get to where you are.

How does insulation affect steam mains?

Insulation makes a huge difference when it comes to steam mains. Here’s an example. Suppose you have a 2-1/2" steel main that runs around your basement. Let’s say it’s 50 feet long. Okay, the original installer covered that main with a one-inch-thick layer of asbestos insulation years before you were born. That was pretty standard practice. When the air in your basement is 70 degrees, the heat loss of that insulated main is going to be about 2,450 BTUs per hour. Naturally, if the air in your basement is colder than that, the heat loss from the main will be greater, but let’s figure that the air is 70 degrees, just for the sake of comparison.

Why do they add a third more boiler capacity to the boiler?

In other words, they measure how much radiation there is, and then they add a third more boiler capacity to that to allow for the heat loss of the pipes that connect your boiler to your radiators . And they base this one-third "pick-up" factor on insulated mains because steam mains are supposed to be insulated.

What is the pick up factor for a steam boiler?

The heat loss of the piping is what steam boiler manufacturers call the "piping and pick-up" factor. When they rate their steam boilers they allow for a piping "pick-up" load that’s equal to one-third of the system’s total radiation load. In other words, they measure how much radiation there is, and then they add a third more boiler capacity to that to allow for the heat loss of the pipes that connect your boiler to your radiators. And they base this one-third "pick-up" factor on insulated mains because steam mains are supposed to be insulated. When the insulation’s gone, the "piping and pick-up" factor the boiler manufacturer built into the sizing chart will suddenly be too small. You can wind up with an effectively undersized boiler and cold rooms.

How does steam work?

First, steam is a hot gas that desperately wants to give up its latent heat energy (an amazing 970 BTUs per pound!) and turn back into water. The steam will give up that tremendous amount of energy to anything that’s colder than it is. In most homes, the steam that leaves the boiler is about 215 degrees F. That’s hotter than just about everything else in the house, right? So when the steam hits a cold pipe, it will quickly make that pipe hot by condensing on it and releasing its latent heat energy. And as soon as the steam condenses, it stops moving because, at that point, it’s no longer steam. The colder the pipes are, the faster the steam will condense on them, and that’s why the builders of old houses covered the steam pipes with an asbestos "blanket." Asbestos insulation keeps the steam hot. It prevents it from condensing too soon. It’s like a thermos bottle. The Dead Men wanted that steam to stay hot so that it would travel further – like to the upstairs bedrooms. You don’t need the basement to be 90 degrees, do you?

Why does steam stop moving?

And as soon as the steam condenses, it stops moving because, at that point, it’s no longer steam. The colder the pipes are, the faster the steam will condense on them, and that’s why the builders of old houses covered the steam pipes with an asbestos "blanket.". Asbestos insulation keeps the steam hot. It prevents it from condensing too soon.

Why is asbestos insulation used in the Dead Men?

Asbestos insulation keeps the steam hot. It prevents it from condensing too soon. It’s like a thermos bottle. The Dead Men wanted that steam to stay hot so that it would travel further – like to the upstairs bedrooms.

Why do cold water pipes need insulation?

This condensation collects and eventually drips on the floor, which over time can leave a water stain. Insulation prevents condensation from forming on your cold water pipes and keeps them cool and dry.

Why do you need to insulate your water pipes?

There are several reasons you’ll want to insulate your cold water pipes if you haven’t already. First, insulating cold water pipes helps protect against freezing. Second, because cold water pipes absorb heat, during the winter they will draw heat from the space around them, assuming this space is insulated.

Can you insulate hot water pipes?

Insulating your water pipes is an inexpensive way to prevent this from happening. And most people already have their hot water pipes insulated already.

Do hot water pipes freeze?

Hot Water Pipes. Hot water pipes aren’t likely to freeze, since there’s hot water traveling through them on a regular basis. But still, you want the hot water you’re paying to heat to retain as much heat as possible on its journey from the hot water heater to your shower, dishwasher, or other fixture. Insulation helps you keep your water hot!

Can water pipes freeze in the winter?

Water pipes in uninsulated or unconditioned spaces such as an unfinished basement or uninsulated crawl space can easily freeze in the winter. Frozen pipes can be damaged beyond the point of repair, which means you’ll be in for an expensive replacement. Even just repairing frozen pipes can get expensive.

Why insulate suction line?

Condensation could drip from the pipe and cause damage to building materials, or create a slip hazard on the floor. The other reason to insulate the suction line, is to prevent the refrigerant in the line from picking up additional heat. The warmer the refrigerant is, the harder the compressor and condenser have to work. Minimizing the temperature of the refrigerant in the suction line, helps the condensing unit work more effectively.

Why is my evaporator coil cold?

The instant drop in pressure causes an instant drop in temperature, making the evaporator coil very cold. Interior air is blown over this coil, cooling the air and warming the coil and refrigerant. The evaporated refrigerant, which is still rather cold, now flows out of the house in the large pipe.

How does a refrigerant line work?

Explanation: The unit outside the house compresses the refrigerant from the large line. This makes the refrigerant very hot. Then the refrigerant is run through the condenser coils and the fan blows outside air over them to remove the heat and condense the refrigerant back to liquid. The small line now carries the warm liquid refrigerant back into the house. No insulation is needed on this line because it is still warmer than the outside air. If the air cools it some more, that only helps. In the house, the pressurized liquid refrigerant is allowed to rapidly decompress into the evaporator coil. The instant drop in pressure causes an instant drop in temperature, making the evaporator coil very cold. Interior air is blown over this coil, cooling the air and warming the coil and refrigerant. The evaporated refrigerant, which is still rather cold, now flows out of the house in the large pipe. It does not help us for this refrigerant to get warmer after it leaves the evaporator coils. It just makes it harder to compress and cool in the condenser coils. So we want to prevent condensation on this pipe. That is the reason for the insulation.

Can you cover a pipe with insulation?

I know of no reason NOT to cover the pipe with insulation. Some pro's state it does not matter however I know for a fact that if your unit has poor air flow due to a clogged air filter or your freon gets low that pipe will actually freeze solid if there is no insulation covering it causing the entire system to fail and potentially causing damage. My previous unit had a two inch thick block of ice surrounding that foot and a half copper pipe in the middle of summer and it was 104 degrees outside.

Do skinny tubes need insulation?

From this site: "the skinny tube doesn't need insulation". From another source: "As you have seen, the large refrigerant line carries cold vapor while air conditioning, and on a humid day it sweats. The main reason we insulate the pipe is to prevent humid air from coming into contact with it.".

Does a dehumidifier help with condensation?

Any cool pipe in a basement will benefit from condensation reduction through insulation. Running a dehumidifier will also help. I have mine piped with a cut-off hose right over to the floor drain, and then connected to a right angle barb fitted with a 1" piece of hose going into the drain.

Does polyethylene foam work on hot water pipes?

Hot water pipes will also benefit. The closed cell (poly ethylene) foam with the adhesive strips (covered by a pull-off protection strip) will last much longer and insulate better. You may still need an overlap wrap of tape at the butt joints. The open cell will work, but needs tape along length and is "crumblier".

How many radiators can fit in a single pipe loop?

In principal the number of radiators which can be fitted to a single pipe loop is unlimited, but the more radiators fitted, the greater the cooling between the first and last radiators.

How many basic arrangements for the pipework connecting the boiler to the radiators?

There are 3 basic arrangements for the pipework connecting the boiler to the radiators:

What is special radiator fitting?

Special radiator fitting may be used so that both the feed and return micro bore pipes are connected to the same end of each radiator (as upper 2 radiators in the illustration). Alternatively, the pipework may feed into into the two ends of the radiators (as lower 2 radiators in the illustration).

What is water central heating?

Water Central Heating - the pipework. A water central heating system consists of basically the boiler, the radiators and the interconnecting piping. The boiler heats the water and (normally) a pump circulates the water through the pipework and radiators and back to the boiler. There are a number of different arrangements of boiler, ...

How many radiators can a pump supply?

A standard pump for domestic use will probably be able to supply up to 12 radiators.

What is the valve between boiler feed and return pipes?

Again, there is a pressure relief valve (or automatic by-pass valve) between the boiler feed and return pipes to protect the boiler should all the radiators be turned off.

What are the disadvantages of a first radiator?

A major disadvantage of this arrangement is that the first radiator gets hotter than the second one etc. and the last radiator will be considerable cooler as the water will have given up most of its heat to the previous radiators along the pipe run.

How long should hot water pipes be insulated?

All the pipes connected to a hot water vessel (including the primary flow and return connections and the vent pipe) should be insulated for at least a metre in length or up to the point at which they are concealed .

What is the best practice standard for insulated pipework?

The Best Practice standard is that the primary pipework is insulated throughout its length.

Why don't plumbers do lagging?

THe reason many plumbers don't, is that they have all F****d themselves on price to get the job, the pipe lagging costs as much as the copper pipe it is insulating

Do boilers switch off in winter?

Exactly , than there are the outside boilers ( oil) open to the elements that never switch off in the winter months , job probably gets inspected by some rules & regs bloke , who insists that a pipe in the airing cuboard should be lagged meanwhile the boiler is standing in the middle of the lawn chugging away on its frost stat !!

How much EDR per foot of pipe?

Assuming that those steam mains and dry returns are a normal size -- more or less -- they have about 0.7 sq. ft. of EDR per foot of pipe. Not enough to make much difference to an oversize boiler in terms of the cycling -- and at the risk of being obvious, unless you are actively heating that space anyway, the fuel which would be used in a slightly longer on phase of the cycle isn't doing anything helpful. Just money up the stack.

Is there heat in a radiator?

Um... well, yes but. If we are talking a residential system -- and not a huge commercial setup -- there is astonishingly little heat in the condensate from a radiator, assuming that the trap is working or, if it isn't trapped, that the feed is correct (two pipe). Two reasons. First, the volume (mass) of condensate is, or should be, quite small. Second, you are looking at the heat capacity of water, not the heat of vapourization of steam. So... in a typical residential dry return (vertical or horizontal) if the temperature a few inches below the trap is mich over about 180, there is something wrong. A few feet away, the pipe will be warm, but you should be able to hold your hand on it at least briefly.

Does insulate water save fuel?

Just the opposite. If you insulate the returns the water will stay hotter, which saves fuel . It also makes it less likely that the condensate will absorb carbon dioxide and become acidic. Thanks for asking!

Is insulating returns bad?

Not that insulating returns is a bad idea. It's a good idea, from the overall efficiency standpoint. The problem is the usual -- the return on investment will be very low, if not negative.

Does the mains have air vents?

I checked the mains and there is air vents there. We have a tune up to schedule for the boiler itself, so I will inquire about the system as well.

Should steam pipes be insulated?

The reflective stuff is pretty well useless. However, before you go and start insulating pipes, be sure to check all of them for pitch and no sags, since you say you have hammering.

Can you use uninsulated steam pipes in a basement?

Not the first place to depend on uninsulated steam pipes to heat the basement. It is not, however, best practice, as the uninsulated steam pipe sections will slow steam distribution to the rest of the building quite dramatically, and may make balancing almost impossible. As well, they may be contributing to the hammer problem: an uninsulated section of steam pipe will condense a surprising amount of steam which, unless things are very well managed indeed will get picked up and blown along once the pipe warms up, and slam into the next handy fitting.

1.Why do pipes carrying the steam to the radiator need to …

Url:https://www.quora.com/Why-do-pipes-carrying-the-steam-to-the-radiator-need-to-be-insulated

3 hours ago  · Because the pipes are a much smaller area, you need less thickness and less area of insulation to get the same reduction in heat loss. 2) Boilers in basements do help dry them out, but unless something is wrong, your basement shouldn't be damp in the winter anyway. user-2890856 | Jan 09, 2015 01:28am | #3.

2.To insulate pipes or not to insulate pipes (hot water …

Url:https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/question/to-insulate-pipes-or-not-to-insulate-pipes-hot-water-radiators

34 hours ago  · In other words, they measure how much radiation there is, and then they add a third more boiler capacity to that to allow for the heat loss of the pipes that connect your boiler to your radiators. And they base this one-third "pick-up" factor on insulated mains because steam mains are supposed to be insulated.

3.Why you should insulate steam pipes - heatinghelp.com

Url:https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/why-you-should-insulate-steam-pipes/

4 hours ago Insulating the pipes prevents this transfer of heat and keeps it where you want it, in the room. Finally, cold water pipes serve as a surface on which moisture in the air can condense. This condensation collects and eventually drips on the floor, which over time can leave a water stain.

4.Why You Should Insulate Your Cold and Hot Water Pipes

Url:https://abbottsplumbing.com/plumbing/insulate-cold-hot-water-pipes/

5 hours ago That is the reason for the insulation. "As you have seen, the large refrigerant line carries cold vapor while air conditioning, and on a humid day it sweats. The main reason we insulate the pipe is to prevent humid air from coming into contact with it." "For the small copper tube you do not need insulation.

5.Should I insulate air conditioner coolant pipes?

Url:https://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/27826/should-i-insulate-air-conditioner-coolant-pipes

9 hours ago It is never really desirable to run the feed pipes at floor level, problems arise where the pipes have to cross doorways,although the pipes could be taken up and around the door frame or be buried under the floor. Where high level feed pipes need to be …

6.Basic water central heating - radiator pipework

Url:https://www.diydata.com/planning/central_heating/pipework.php

1 hours ago The pipes need to be insulated so that the heat can stay in the pipes through out it's whole path.

7.Chapter Test B, Thermal Energy Flashcards | Quizlet

Url:https://quizlet.com/339844523/chapter-test-b-thermal-energy-flash-cards/

17 hours ago Why do the pipes in a radiator system need to be insulated? So it doesn't loose heat; keeps thermal energy in place What is the equation for measuring the change in thermal energy?

8.Science Chapter 5 Review Flashcards | Quizlet

Url:https://quizlet.com/78845929/science-chapter-5-review-flash-cards/

9 hours ago  · Part L1. All the pipes connected to a hot water vessel (including the primary flow and return connections and the vent pipe) should be insulated for at least a metre in length or up to the point at which they are concealed. The Best Practice standard is that the primary pipework is insulated throughout its length. B.

9.Why don't plumbers insulate hot water pipes? | DIYnot …

Url:https://www.diynot.com/diy/threads/why-dont-plumbers-insulate-hot-water-pipes.234469/

36 hours ago On the other hand, the amount of energy saved by insulating the returns is minimal. Now if the "returns" are carrying live steam -- some do -- they should indeed be insulated. If they are real two pipe system dry returns -- carrying only air and condensate -- there is no need; indeed, if they are very hot, it means that there is a bad trap somewhere.

10.Why you should insulate steam pipes — Heating Help: …

Url:https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/159676/why-you-should-insulate-steam-pipes

28 hours ago

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