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plumbing heat tape question

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by kobudo, Jan 8, 2009.

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  1. kobudo

    kobudo Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    98
    Loc:
    MN
    I am having a water flow problem.
    I have heat tape from my well to the cabin. Most of the cabin is up off the ground on pillars. There is one approx. 8'x8' - 42" inch high fully enclosed, insulated utility chase under the bathroom and that is where the water comes in. The chase isn't heated but there is an open grated 3'x3' area to the bathroom. I am not getting nearly enough heat down there to keep the pipes from freezing. I have resorted to putting a propane heater down there as a short term solution. Would applying heat tape to the interior water pipes (they are not copper but some type of plastic type material) be possible? If so should they then be insullated? If I call in a professional should I call a plumber or an electrician to do this? Any other suggestions are appreciated.

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  2. kobudo

    kobudo Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Messages:
    98
    Loc:
    MN
    I'm not sure that I understand your response.
    I was not getting water through the pipes until I put the heater down there and thawed them out. The non copper pipes are more burst resistnt than traditional copper.
  3. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2008
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    1,099
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    Burbs of B'more, MD, Hon!
    Yes, it sounds like you need some heat down there. Plastic can withstand some freezing, but every freeze/thaw cycle will stretch it a little bit more and it will eventually burst. The other problem with plastic pipe is that conventional heat tape may melt through the plastic if a hot spot develops. The only heat trace I have ever heard that is safe to use on plastic pipe is made by Raychem. It is very expensive and usually only available from industrial or refrigeration suppliers. Every square inch is self regulating and it can't overheat. It can be had in 250 foot rolls or you can buy the exact length you need. You splice a power connection on it, cap the dead end and plug it in. Tape it to the pipe, wrap with insulation and end of problem. It is also very reliable and can't burn out, unless physically damaged.

    http://www.tycothermal.com/usa/english/heat_tracing/default.aspx

    It costs about $5 a foot and Grainger carries it. If you don't have far to go, it might be worth the money.

    Chris
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