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How To Insulate Water Pipes Using Fiberglass Insulation

Dan K. of McCall, ID wrote:

Hi Itchy,

Unfortunately I need to crawl underneath the house and get those water pipes insulated. What's the best method? Show me the easy way man!

You know Dan, I've probably insulated several miles of water pipes in my time. I'll show you my favorite method of insulating water pipes. I hope you have some good clearance in your crawl space. If not you're gonna have a good time! (After all, they don't call is a "crawl" space for nothing.)

First thing you have to do is get under that house and measure the length of the water pipes to be insulated. It doesn't have to be exact but you need to know how much insulation to buy. Once done, go down to the store and buy yourself some R-8 unfaced batt insulation in 8 foot lengths with a width of 15".

Put on your protective clothing, dust mask and goggles. Cut the insulation batts lengthwise down the middle to make two insulation strips of about 7".  Next cut them again so their about 4 feet in length. It's best to do this before you get into the crawl space. Grab some twine, duct tape and you insulation and get underneath that house... don't forget a drop light.

I've found it best to start at the far end of the plumbing and work your way back. Wrap the insulation around the water pipe using the spiral method.



Overlap each layer by half of the width of the batt insulation. This is the tricky part... the insulation can't be wrapped too tight or it will lose its R Value. Make sure its snug but not mashed. Use the duct tape where each batt connects to hold it in place. Continue with this process until all water pipes are insulated.

Sorry, you're not done yet. Grab your twine and belly back to the far end of the water pipes where you started. Secure the insulation to the water pipes by wrapping the twine around the insulation in a spiral fashion. Again, don't compress the insulation too much or you're gonna ruin it. Continue this process until all insulation is secured into place.

That's it!  (Betcha you won't want to do this one again!)

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy

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