Water pipes sweat when pipes containing cold water are located in humid areas, a frequent occurrence in basements. You might see sweating water pipes upstairs as well, such as in the laundry room. The same process causes toilet tanks to sweat during humid weather. Decreasing humidity is the primary method for preventing water pipes from sweating. High levels of humidity should be avoided for other reasons as well, since excessive humidity leads to mold and mildew and causes wood to warp.
Things You'll Need
- Polyurethane foam
- Plastic foam pipe wrap
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Set up a dehumidifier and work with the controls until you reach an optimum humidity level in the problem area. Optimum humidity is between 40 percent and 60 percent. You can measure the humidity with a hygrometer, an inexpensive meter available at many types of stores.
Keep the cooling vents open in the basement and laundry areas when you're running the central air conditioner. The air conditioning will decrease humidity.
Prevent water from entering the basement, as that will add to humidity levels. Check for any cracks and fill them with polyurethane foam, or have a handyman who specializes in concrete do the job.
Run your sump pump regularly to eliminate standing water in the basement area, if it usually does not accumulate enough water to switch on by itself.
Direct rainwater away from your house with an efficient gutter and drain-pipe system, and keep the gutters free of leaves and other debris. Water soaking into the ground around the foundation raises the basement humidity level.
Avoid hanging wet clothes to dry in the basement or laundry room, as that adds moisture to the air.
Insulate the cold water pipes with plastic foam pipe wrap, which is available at home improvement stores. This prevents humid air from reaching the pipes.