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Insulation for steam heat pipes

Hello all.

First Dan, thanks very much for this site. I purchased a home this year, built in 1917. It has single pipe steam heat, and I have learned alot from this site.

Now, when it was sold, the owner removed every stinking lick of abspestos (spelling?) insulation from the pipes so it would pass the inspections. So now I have 100 feet of pipe bare in the basement.

I am from the Albany, NY area, so I just went to the Home Depot. They have 3' fiberglass wraps (ThermoKing i believe), but those are expensive. They have other types of batting with pre-stick stuff on them, but I would think I would want something that I could remove easily if need be.

One thing I am unsure of is the size--I am not used to these pipe measurements. There are 2 different, and one could be either 1.5 or 2". I tried measuring the diamiter with a ruler, but maybe pipes are like lumber, where a 2x4 isn't 2x4. Is there a standard width for pipes? The other is either 2.5" or 3". One is the return, one goes out from the boiler.

So, I guess I basically have two questions:

1) what is the best type of insulation--a wrap or a pre cut length of 3'???? Maybe the answer is the one that is less expensive?

2) If the pre-cut 3' lenghts are best, are there standard sizes for pipes? how do i measure my pipes accurately, so i know what size insulation to get???


Thanks so much for any help.
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Comments

  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 9,161Member ✭✭✭
    Answers

    First, pipe sizes: The walls of typical black pipe in sizes used in residential steam systems are 1/8" thick. These pipes are classified by their inside diameter. So if you have a pipe that's 2-1/4" on the outside, that makes it a 2" pipe.

    Home Depot carries several kinds of pre-cut insulation. The ONLY type you can use on steam pipes is Fiberglass. Anything else will melt. And they only carry it in pipe sizes up to 1-1/2", you'd have to have a contractor obtain (from a wholesaler) and install anything larger.

    Your steam pipes are likely 2-inch. Time to call a contractor if they are- it will be worth the money you'll spend. Go to the Find a Contractor page of this site to locate one near you.

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    · ·
  • DaveGatewayDaveGateway Posts: 568Member
    Insulation Source

    I had the same problem in my house but I was able to get rigid fiberglass pipe insulation from one of the NJ Suppliers. They typically work with contractors, but had no problem selling to me.
    I used 1" thick insulation and told them the pipe sizes.
    It's simple to install because it's slit and once you get it over the pipe, just peel and stick the self adhesive lap.

    Instead of picking it up, they sent it UPS for a small fee. They were MUCH cheaper than HD for similar 1/2" thick stuff by Frost King.

    If you can't find someone near you, call State Insulation in Perth Amboy NJ. 732 442 5656.
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  • Anthony HillAnthony Hill Posts: 2Member
    home depot has......

    they do have 2" and 1.5" covers. the 2" ones are $6.29 per 3 foot section, 1.5" are $5.29 per 3 foot section.

    what i did was measure the circumfernce of my pipe, then compare it do the depot, and i think i have 2".

    so, is this a reasonable price?????
    · ·
  • chuck shawchuck shaw Posts: 584Member
    probally

    much more reasonable then the cost of fuel ;-)

    Chuck

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    · ·
  • BOBBOB Posts: 16Member
    Pipe Insulation

    I just purchased the rigid insulation (3ft sec.). I'm in the process of swithching over to hw. But in the meantime I wanted to cover some bare pipe I had. I went to the local supplier and bought what I needed. He did tell me however, there was a recent fire in the plant in P.A. that makes the stuff so he was having a hard time getting more. Hope this helps.Bob
    · ·
  • lost in steamlost in steam Posts: 29Member
    follow up!

    i purchased a test sample at home depot to check if i have my measurements right--i'm pretty sure i have 2" coming out, and 1.5" coming back. there is an old radiator that was taken out and an old piece of pipe and they both measured 1.5" interior diamater. but the insulation doesn't fit snug. it is like a 1/4" bigger. it fits snug around the couplings (where two sections of pipe come together) but not everywhere else.

    i found a local supplier that can order it for me much cheaper than home depot. but i want to make sure that this stuff isn't supposed to fit super snug, becasue it isn't.

    this is a duplex, so i have like 200 feet worth of this stuff to buy. and it is special order, so i doubt they will let me return it..........
    · ·
  • lost in steamlost in steam Posts: 29Member
    follow up

    i purchased a test sample at home depot to check if i have my measurements right--i'm pretty sure i have 2" coming out, and 1.5" coming back. there is an old radiator that was taken out and an old piece of pipe and they both measured 1.5" interior diamater. but the insulation doesn't fit snug. it is like a 1/4" bigger. it fits snug around the couplings (where two sections of pipe come together) but not everywhere else.

    i found a local supplier that can order it for me much cheaper than home depot. but i want to make sure that this stuff isn't supposed to fit super snug, becasue it isn't.

    this is a duplex, so i have like 200 feet worth of this stuff to buy. and it is special order, so i doubt they will let me return it..........
    · ·
  • Robert O'ConnorRobert O'Connor Posts: 88Member
    Get

    one of Dan's pocket rockets. This will ensure you have the right size.

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/shopcart/product.cfm?category=5-67
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  • lost in steamlost in steam Posts: 29Member
    well.......

    i'm 99% sure i have the right size--it is the snugness of the insulation i am worried about. is it supposed to fit snug?
    · ·
  • antmanantman Posts: 182Member
    It might be

    1 1/4" on your returns not 1 1/2", not vey unusual.
    Yes, it should fit snug.

    Good luck, Ant

    To Learn More About This Contractor, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Contractor"
    · ·
  • lost in steamlost in steam Posts: 29Member
    i was starting to think that......

    i am wondering that. i am trying to search the web to try and find circumfence (sp?) to nominal diamiter comparisons. i tried the 1.5" insulation over the bigger pipe and it didn't fit. so the bigger one is definetly 2" or 1.75", but i don't think they make 1.75"????

    still searching........want to place the order tomorrow!!!
    · ·
  • RabbitocRabbitoc Posts: 1Member
    Insulation for unions

    I've read all your advice on how to choose and size insulation for steam pipes and it is really helpful. What I have not seen is how to insulate around unions. I know how to do tees and elbows and have seen products for these, but what about unions? I have several on my system and am not sure what to do. Should I just wrap fiberglass insulation around them and cover them with the appropriate tape?
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