How to Use Heat Tape on PVC Pipe

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Insulating a home's PVC pipes may not be enough to stop them from freezing in cold weather. Heat tape, though, does prevent pipes from freezing. Wrap this tape around a pipe and then plug the tape into an electrical source to heat the pipe. Several types of heat tape are available. Use heat tape featuring a thermostat to ensure that the PVC pipe is not damaged due to excess heat.

Things You'll Need

  • Heat tape recommended for PVC usage
  • Electrical tape
  • Pipe insulation
  • Determine how much heat tape the PVC pipe requires. The size of the pipe, weather conditions, and pipe outlets will determine how much heat tape is needed to heat the pipe properly; read the heat tape manufacturer's recommendations to ensure proper amount and usage.

  • When wrapping the PVC pipe, start at the end where a GFCI plug receptacle is located. The heat tape should be plugged directly into a receptacle without the use of an extension cord. If a GFCI receptacle is not present, one will need to be installed near the pipe.

  • Slowly wrap the entire length of PVC pipe with the heat tape. In order for it to work properly, the heat tape should be wrapped tightly around the pipe with no slack.

  • Secure the heat tape to the pipe by wrapping electrical tape every two feet to secure the wire in place.

  • Install pipe insulation around the pipe with the installed heat tape. Pipe insulation is cylinder-shaped foam with a slit on the side; the slit allows a pipe to be inserted inside. Use weatherproofed pipe insulation to protect the heat tape from outdoor elements.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never wrap heat tape over itself while installing it over the pipe; doing so could cause a short that burns through the PVC pipe or causes a fire.

References

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