How to Insulate an Exposed Pipe

How to Insulate an Exposed Pipe. Making a home more energy efficient is of interest to most modern homeowners. Energy savings, lower utility bills and reduced maintenance costs often occur after adding insulation to a home where necessary. Insulation around cold-water pipes is crucial for homes that experience extreme colds and could lead to pipes freezing and splitting. Hot-water pipes also benefit by making hot water more accessible to showers and taps faster and more efficiently. There are several types of insulation available and it is relatively easy to work with.

Things Needed

  • Insulation material
  • Acrylic seam tape or duct tape
  • Tape measure
  • Pipe cleaning materials
  • Utility knife

Step 1

Choose the type of insulation best for the situation. Some types are neoprene foam form-fitted to the pipe size, insulating wraps and tapes, foam rubber wraps and fiberglass sheeting.

Step 2

Measure or estimate the amount of insulation needed for all piping to be wrapped. It is best to wrap all piping near exterior walls, followed by any additional pipes required.

Step 3

Clean all pipes thoroughly to remove any oil, debris or other material that may inhibit the insulation. Look for any leaks and repair any found. Wait for the pipes to dry before proceeding.

Step 4

Measure and cut insulation to fit a section of pipe snugly. Seal all seams with acrylic tape or duct tape. For areas where pieces are butted up against one another, be sure the seal is tight.

Step 5

Check all wrapped pipes within 24 hours to look for signs of problems with the insulation. Insulation that is warm to the touch is not thick enough, and any sweating means that the pipe insulation is not adequate for that section of pipe.


  • Match the pipe insulation to the pipe's diameter closely to make a snug fit.
  • Use the highest rated insulation R-value possible.
  • Plastic ties can be used in place of tape but will not seal as efficiently.


  • Wrap the pipes the run parallel with outside walls, as those may freeze easily in very cold weather.
  • Stop the insulation on the hot-water pipe of water heaters 6 inches from the water heater. The insulation should not touch the water heater, and the first inches of pipe may be too hot on occasion as well.


  • "Ultimate Guide to Plumbing: Complete Projects for the Home;" Mr. Merle Henkenius; 2006
  • "Miller's Guide to Home Plumbing;" Glenn E. Baker, Mark R. Miller, and Rex Miller; 2004