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How to accessorize for maximum effect - Part 1: Sealing Insulation

Don't worry - this has nothing to do with Paris Hilton, Gok Wan or any other fashion aficionados.

But if it did, they would probably agree the accessories you choose have a huge impact on the end result. Picking the right insulation is of course the most important choice, but you should choose the right accessory products to match it for maximum effect. The products you use can vary from clips or tapes which are very easy to use, to contact adhesives or external jacketing which require a little more know-how.

So, lets begin by looking at basic products for sealing insulation. Why seal insulation? Basically, if you have open seams or butt joints then this is a point of weakness - letting heat out, or cold in depending on your point of view.

Probably the most low tech solution for sealing domestic grey pipe insulation (eg Climaflex) would be a product like Clima-Clips which you simply pinch into place along the seams or but joints - a good rule of thumb would be to use 2 clips per metre along the seams, and 3 or 4 around the butt joints depending on the size of the pipe insulation.

This product is quick and simple to use, but is not perfect as it does of course leave gaps which may be opened if the material is twisted so you must be careful about where and when you use it. Clips tend to work better with thicker material as the seams cannot warp so easily - for example using them on pipe insulation for frost protection in the loft you would not have any problems.

Another simple but effective option is to use Insulation Tapes. You can get tapes to match the colour of any pipe insulation; black for Armaflex or Eurobatex, grey for Climaflex, white for Eurobatex R and aluminium foil tape for Rocklap, Kooltherm and Sager.

Tapes are quick and easy to use, and provided you apply them properly will give you a strong seal. A good practice tip when installing using tape is to be sure that you squeeze any air bubbles out as they can lead to the seal not taking properly and coming away over time. Tapes also allow you to fully seal seams and joins giving better moisture resistance.

A range of insulating tapes are also available, though these are an expensive way of sealing insulation. These products are better suited to use on valves or unions where it is difficult to easily make a tight seal with pipe insulation alone.

The best way of sealing flexible pipe insulation will always be to use an Insulation Adhesive, though it is is not always practical or cost effective.

Pipe insulation is best sealed using a contact adhesive; in layman's terms you brush or spray a little adhesive onto either face you wish to join, allow the adhesive to go tacky and then when you join the insulation you will get a strong, tight bond.

This typically works better for thicker insulations as it is easier to apply effectively to a larger surface area.

In our next entry we will look at how to face pipe insulation for outdoor use.


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