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Cleaning pipes before insulating?

Mark_106 Member Posts: 1
I am about to begin insulating piping for 3 steam boilers systems.

The piping had asbestos insulation removed by a prior owner using a licensed abatement contractor many years ago. The pipes were never re-insulated.

I will be insulating them with 1” wall fiberglass tubes using my own labor.

Should I wash the pipes down to remove the accumulated dust and dirt, or is it ok to just put the insulation on the pipes without cleaning them?

This forum has already supplied me with a ton of needed knowledge prior to starting this project. Thank you all.


  • jimbo_7
    jimbo_7 Member Posts: 10

    If it were me, I'd run a shop-vac using the brush-end along the pipes to make my job easier and less likely to send me coughing and hacking, mask or no mask--but that's me. Keep in mind though, maybe this isn't such a good idea if there's left over asbestos particles along the pipe, as the filter on most shop-vac with leak this s*#t like a sieve and create an airborne HazMat zone. I'm only talking about the garden-variety, nasty, accumulated basement dust of the non-asbestos variety. Then insulate. Shop-vaccing would take less then 10 minutes of your time. But is it mandatory for proper insulation, not sure. Is it mandatory for ease of install, you bet.
  • yea,

    I try not to disturb it at all, dry anyways, I suppose if you were to use water and wash them down first it wouldn't hurt. Wear a good mask too.
  • Brad White_184
    Brad White_184 Member Posts: 135

    I am on the side of "clean them". If the pipes were abated though, I would have hoped they would have done a washdown with 409 detergent but oh well...

    My biggest reservation about dust is that the peel and stick strips on the insulation will load up in a jiffy, leaving you with another step...
  • Glen_7
    Glen_7 Member Posts: 82


    After my asbestos was removed, the contractor washed them down and then spray painted all the fittings. When I asked about that he said the rougher surface of the fittings makes it difficult to remove every last spec of asbestos fiber, and the paint permanently seals any residue. Not a bad idea IMO.
  • Jon Held
    Jon Held Member Posts: 48

    I used a shop rag dipped in simple green. Wiped down all the pipes, let 'em dry for a day and insulated the heck out of them with 1" fiberglass. Worked a charm.
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