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Showing posts from September, 2011

Frost protection for domestic pipes

With the cold weather approaching we thought it would be a good idea to touch on how best to protect your pipes from frost this winter.

When dealing with frost protection on pipes inside a building your aim with insulating them is to delay the onset of freezing for as long as possible; it is not possible to guarantee a pipe will not freeze by insulation alone. The better the insulation, and the thicker the insulation, the longer you will give yourself. Under normal circumstances you aim to give yourself about 8-10 hours protection against sub zero temperatures. With pipes inside a home this is usually long enough to be sure the pipes will not freeze.


Ice formation inside the pipes will lead to an increase in pressure. As the water tries to flow this pressure will increase, and eventually will lead to the pipes bursting. A burst pipe can cause a lot of problems, not least of which is a lot of damage to your property and a lot of expense incurred.

Water regulations state that all water …

Kingspan Kooltherm Phenolic Pipe Insulation

Phenolic foam is probably the most efficient insulation widely available in the UK market (there are technically products with better thermal conductivity's but they tend to be limited to the petro-chemical market as they are so expensive). It has a very low thermal conductivity at just 0.021W/m.K, meaning the biggest selling point is that you can very often use a thickness or two below that which you would normally use with a mineral wool product.


Phenolic foam does not tend to have the same kind of temperature range as mineral wool, but that does not prevent it being used in the majority of heating and cooling applications. It is also becoming more commonly specified in the domestic sector, with ever increasing efficiency required for building regulations and a desire from home owners and self builders to think of the long term environmental impact of their home.

Of course, as well as its use as a pipe insulation Kingspan Kooltherm is also a leading name in building insulation b…

Sager Foil Faced Fibreglass Pipe Insulation

Sager Pipelane is a foil faced fibreglass, or glass wool, pipe insulation product with a self-sealing strip along its length. The glass wool is made of bio soluble fibres which are better for your health if ingested, although obviously it is better to avoid inhaling them to begin with. Like with any mineral wool product it is advisable to wear a protective mask when working with this material.



The main areas one would use foil faced glass wool products would be for heating pipes in commercial buildings, boiler rooms and steam pipes.

The glass wool itself can cope with temperatures up to around 300ºC, although the binder will begin to dissolve around 225ºC + - this will not stop the product actually working, but it will become softer and lose much of its mechanical strength. It is suitable for many indoor applications, excepting those where dust and fibres are unacceptable, but like any other mineral fibre it should not be used externally. Mineral wool has an open cell structure, and a…

Armaflex Self-Seal Pipe Insulation

Armaflex Self-Seal is a closed cell, nitrile rubber thermal pipe insulation (not unlike Eurobatex mentioned in yesterday's entry) that contains Microban which the manufacturer states "reduces mould and bacteria growth". Unlike standard Eurobatex it is also a self-sealing pipe insulation, as the name suggests, making installation a simpler process. Self-Sealing products are at a price premium compared to normal unsplit tube, but can be worth it if your time is limited.

Like Eurobatex, Armaflex is also ODP Zero and GWP Zero, dust and fibre free with very low water absorption characteristics. It is very flexible to work with and can be used on a variety of peipework, from central heating pipes to hospitals. It has a thermal conductivity of 0.034W/m.K at 0ºC and is described by the manufacturer as also being suitable for the prevention of sound passage.
Below is a copy of the installation procedure given by the manufacturer which you can print off and keep to hand if you are…

Eurobatex Class 0 Pipe Insulation

Eurobatex Class 0 Pipe Insulation is a closed cell, nitrile rubber pipe insulation, also referred to as flexible elastomeric foam. For a material to achieve a "Class 0" rating is must pass the Part 6 (Fire Propagation) achieving a Class 0 result as well as Part 7 (Flame spread) achieving a Class 1 result. In certain situations a Class 0 fire rating is required, it is often best to refer to any specification you have been given or your local planning officer if you are unsure.

Eurobatex Class 0 has on Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero, and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of zero, this information is particularly of importance if you are working to the Code for Sustainable Homes.
In terms of performance, Eurobatex has a thermal conductivity of 0.033W/m.K at 0ºC, slightly better than average for products in its class. It is also a very workable material, it is flexible enough that you could tie it in knots if you were so inclined (its not very useful to do so in most app…

Climaflex Pipe Insulation

Climaflex polyethylene pipe insulation is probably the best place to begin a discussion on pipe insulation. it is a grey, closed cell, polyethylene foam and widely available online and from DIY centres and plumbers merchants.

Polyethylene tends to be the cheapest insulation around, but that does not make it a poor quality product. It has a good thermal conductivity (0.034W/m.K @ 0ºC) comparable with nitrile rubber making it a good material for central heating pipes and frost protection applications. The material itself is not UV stable, so it is not advisable to use it out of doors but it has a closed cell structure so it does not absorb water, or at least it will not unless it is left in a body of water for an extended period. If you do use it outside the material is likely to degrade much quicker than normal, a time scale is difficult to predict dependent on how much sun the product gets, but it would certainly need replacing within 2-5 years.

In terms of application, most people wo…