Coming home in the middle of winter to a burst pipe is a thing to behold. The mild shock, the disbelief, and then the realisation that this is going to cost you, and cost you quite a bit, passes over you in seconds as you then realise the aftermath will not.

You know what happened. It is cold at night. Below freezing. The pipes had frozen and then burst. Worst of all? It could have been prevented. Prevented with a simple tube of foam called pipe lagging.

Using Pipe Lagging or pipe insulation is a cheap and easy way to save you from an expensive mess.

The Most Common Cause of Burst Pipes

Ask any plumber. What type of jobs are you usually called out to during the winter months? You can almost guess what the answer will be. “Burst pipes from freezing”.

Water inside pipes freeze when the surrounding area is at freezing temperatures and its insulation is inadequate or missing. Typically it is either outdoor or attic pipes. Basically pipes in areas exposed to the cold.

When water freezes it expands. As it gets bigger it puts additional pressure on the pipe until it eventually bursts. When the temperature rises and the water once again turns back into a liquid is when your problems begin.

How Pipe Insulation Works

To stop the water inside the pipe you need to keep the ambient temperature inside the pipe higher than the freezing temperatures outside. To help achieve this you need to put some insulation on your pipes. If you want to keep it simple think of it as how we wear coats to stay warm.

That extra layer can help you stay warm enough for now but maybe not forever.

A more detailed overview of pipe insulation which covers factors influencing pipe lagging performance like thermal conductivity, surface emissivity, water-vapour resistance and insulation thickness can be found here for the more scientifically minded.

Those of us that just want to get the job done as efficiently as possible can leave the science behind and just get on to the practicalities at hand.

Do You Own Lagging

The best cure is prevention. And if you want to get it done before the freezing cold comes in here is some handy advice to get you up, running, and done, in no time.

You will need some essentials but it is a short list: tape measure, craft knife, duct tape,

pipe lagging and a notepad.

Basic Steps:

Measure the length and width of the pipes you wish to cover. It is important to know the diameter of the pipes when buying your lagging.

Buy your lagging

Turn off your heating and hot water and allow your pipes to cool.

Use craft knife. Cut lagging to size

If your lagging does not have a slit down the length of the tubing then you will have to make one.

Pull at the split at one end and push it on to the pipe. Slide the lagging along the appropriate length of pipe.

Every 30/40 centimetres wrap some duct tape around the lagging to help keep it securely in place.

For corners simply make a width wise cut on the lagging and it will fold around it. Add extra duct tape for security.

You’re done. And you’ve potentially saved yourself a whole lot of money and trouble for something that can be explained in a few words and is pretty easy to do.

Worth the time and money, which, when you look at it, are not very much at all. Sounds like a positive result all round. And a warm, dry one.