insulate water pipes
Home Heater When Should You Insulate Your Water Heater and Other Pipes?

When Should You Insulate Your Water Heater and Other Pipes?

by Eric

Charlotte, NC, residents experience average temperatures as low as 65 F throughout the year. The cold can cause your pipes to crack or water to freeze. Your plumbing system is made up of not only water pipes but also sewers. Sewer lines are the crucial elements that take waste away from your home to a wastewater treatment plant or septic tank. Because these lines are installed underground, they can be prone to freezing in cold weather.

By insulating your water pipes, you can help stop them from freezing and keep your pipes safe this winter. Timely water heater repairs and insulation will help ensure you have access to hot water throughout winter.

When to Insulate Your Pipes:

The following timeline provides insight into when you should insulate your home’s water supply pipes, water heater, and sewer lines. It is essential to insulate your water pipes before the first freeze.

  • Around October 1st or when you turn on your outdoor faucets for the season
  • Around November 1st or when the overnight low temperature consistently falls below 40° F

Insulate Your Sewer Pipes During The First Freeze:

  • Around November 1st or when the overnight low temperature consistently falls below 32° F or,
  • Around seven weeks before the average first frost date in your location
  • Around December 1st or when the overnight low temperature consistently falls below 25° F or,
  • During peak freezing periods

The Benefits of Insulating Your Plumbing Systems:

Plumbing problems happen all year round, but they are prevalent during winter cold snaps and outdoor holidays like Halloween and Christmas. Homeowners with homes built before 1994 should ensure that their water pipes are adequately insulated. Plumbing lines in older homes lack anti-freeze protection on their supply lines. By taking the following steps, you can help prevent water damage and costly emergency repairs:

Turn Off Water Supply

Shut off the water supply before you begin water heater repair and insulation. If you do not have internal shut-off valves on your home, contact a professional for assistance or ask a local plumber which valves should be closed in this type of situation.

Remove Pipe Covers & Insulation from Fixtures:

Use an adjustable wrench to remove the fittings at each end of any uninsulated pipes, such as outdoor hose spigots and indoor faucets. Cover all fixtures with a heavy towel to prevent contact with insulation fibers, move them to an open area well away from the work area (the space where you’ll be applying insulation).

Apply Insulation and Reattach Fixtures:

After your pipes are exposed, apply pipe insulation tape or pre-slit foam sleeves by wrapping each pipe completely in insulation. Do not leave any gaps in coverage because this will allow cold air to penetrate your home’s water supply system. Once all of your pipes are insulated, reattach the fixtures at their appropriate locations using adjustable wrenches before turning on the main water supply again. Read more about What are condensing tankless water heaters?

Clean Up the Mess and Test for Leaks:

After completing the insulation work:

  1. Clean the work area thoroughly to remove any dust or insulation particles
  2. Check carefully for leaks around fittings you removed earlier in the process
  3. Tighten loose connections as needed and wipe up any water on the floor with a mop or wet vacuum

Check For Leaks Again:

Begin by checking each fixture for signs of leaking water (which indicates an issue with your insulation job). If no leaks are found at fixtures, leave them running periodically overnight to ensure they don’t spring new leaks after you’ve turned the main supply back on again.

Check Main Water Supply:

On newer homes with internal shut-off valves, make sure these are open before turning the main supply back on. This step protects your home from water damage if a leak is detected later on.

Turn Your Main Water Supply Back On Again:

Charlotte, NC, has high humidity levels of around 86%. The humidity can trigger leaks and rust in pipes. After ensuring that all water leaks have been eliminated, slowly turn your main water supply back on at the meter again. With this step, you allow new water into your house’s system while also letting any remaining air bubbles escape into the outdoors. Once you’ve done this, recheck each fixture for leaks.

Insulating your home’s water supply and sewer lines is a relatively quick, simple job that can keep you from dealing with potentially costly plumbing problems caused by frozen, burst, or poorly insulated pipes.


By following the above steps, you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood of dealing with outdoor plumbing repairs this winter season. Consider making water heater repair if required and insulate your water lines before winter, so they don’t freeze & burst. Also, insulate your sewer pipes during the first freeze, so they don’t break & flood either!

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