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Insulation

crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
Recently I received an e-mail request for more info on how to insulate steam pipes and fittings.  Rather than answering e-mails individually, I thought I should post here for anyone who may be interested in insulation.  The way I did it was to start with a picture and identify the size of pipe I will be working with.  There is a measuring tool available in the shop here that will tell you what size the pipe is.  Its called the Pocket Rocket.  http://www.heatinghelp.com/products/Cool-Stuff/6/123/Mini-Pipe-Measuring-Tool   Another way is to measure the circumference then use this chart to convert the measurement to pipe size.

Comments

  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Suppliers

    There are many different suppliers of glass fibre pipe wrap.  Fiberglass and John Mansfield are two of the largest.  I was fortunate to find Mike at mechanical Insulation Supply, Redford, Michigan.  All I had to do was e-mail him the measurements and he figured it all out, billed me, and delivered.  http://local.yahoo.com/info-16263812-mechanical-insulation-supply-redford
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Do the pipe first

    Forget about the fittings until later.  Just get the wrap on the pipes first.  I think they came in 3 foot lengths.  Put on as many whole pieces as you can.  Do not cover the fittings with the pipe wrap.  I used one of the kitchen knives for cutting a flat bottomed serrated bread knife.  You may have to try different knives to find one that cuts best for you.  I didn't care for the razor edge of the utility knife.  Cut up some small pieces for the close nipples.  Now all the pipe is covered, even the spaces between the fittings. 
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    edited August 2011
    PVC Fitting covers

    are available from many manufacturers.  Mine came from Speedline http://www.speedlinepvc.com/product-types  The PVC is available in many different colors to suit your boiler room decor.  Jacketing for the pipe wrap is available as well.  It is a good idea to install the jacketing prior to the elbows, T's, and fittings.   DON'T FORGET TO ORDER THE STAINLESS STEEL TACKS.  The tacks hold the pvc fitting cover together.
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    edited August 2011
    Elbows 45 and 90

    are easy to install.  Mine came with a diamond shaped piece of rock wool.  All I had to do was wrap it around the elbow like a grannys kercheif, and tuck it in where it meets the pipe wrap.  The pvc cover is then applied in place and secured with a stainless steel tack.  Wrap both ends with some pvc tape and your done.



    The header was a little tricky.  Each pvc cover had to be trimmed to fit.  If you look at where the drop meets the header you will see that I had to kinda form it to meet the T.  Anyway what I am trying to say is the PVC "T" comes up from the bottom and the PVC ELBOW had to be trimmed to meet the header.  The header took some time.  A few hours maybe. 



    On the reducing elbows I could have built the small side up and put on an end cap, but I decided since the opening was toward the bottom I would just pack it with rock wool and be done with it.
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Union

    covers are pretty easy too.  Use some rock wool to build the union up to the same thickness as the pipe wrap, then use a rectangular piece of rock wool to build it up thicker, then apply both halves of the pvc cover, and secure with a tack or two, tape both ends and your done.  Try to hide the seams if you can.
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Reducers,

    two of them pictured here.  One of them is a 3" to 1.5" and the other is a 3" to 2".  Both of them were built up to 3" and a cap installed on top.
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Valves

    use a pvc T.  Valves are a pain in the neck and other places too.  Someone please show me the "easy button"  Anyway with that off my chest, the way I ended up doing these was like this.  The valve on the left is 1.5".  Remove the handle.  As you can see in the second picture a piece of pipewrap is carved out to fit around the valve.  Once installed and taped together at the back some rock wool pieces are wrapped to fill the cracks left behind by the poor carving job.  Then the pvc T is applied, then tacked and trimmed to fit.  Some rock wool was stuffed in and around the valve stem.  A home made end cap was made to cover the face.  Finally the handle was installed back. 
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Expansion and contraction

    I had a couple places where a main had to go through brick.  The asbestos had been removed all-ready, leaving a bare pipe.  As the steam caused expansion and contraction, this was noisy and dusty.  The hole through the brick was enlarged to fit 1" of pipe wrap.  Then chimney mortar was used to seal the insulation to the brick.  The pipes still expand and contract, but they do this while they are inside the insulation.  No mess and no noise. 



    Insulated pipe hangars are available from your local supply house to suspend pipes from the ceiling and to maintain the pitch of the main.
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Before and After

    Seems like it took longer to write than to actually do the work.  You will be surprised at how quiet your insulated steam system will be.  Also you will see some savings on your fuel bill.  Last winter my bill was $750 less.  We were more comforable last winter also.  No hot spots and no cold spots.  70 degrees from top to bottom.   
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Info on Insulation

    Hi Crash-

       Thanks for posting the info on insulation and on your experiences with it. I'm sure it will be helpful to a lot of people. I really liked your ball valves covers!

    - Rod
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    edited August 2011
    Professional Insulation

    These pictures were posted by Gerry Gill last fall.  I think I will try out this stuff next time.  The job starts out the same way-by covering the pipe with one inch glass fibre.  The fittings are covered with high temperature insulators cement.  The whole thing is wrapped in scrim, (they used cheese-cloth).  And finally all is coated with childers mastic. 



    Now thats a drop-header, Yum-ee!
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,674Member
    excellent

    writeup on insulating Crash.



    I can't wait to start insulating my mains, unfortunately I have to tackle installing the boiler first.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • jv100jv100 Posts: 56
    very informative!

    Thanks for taking the time to post.
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    edited September 2011
    Thanks to Rod,

    I dug a little deeper into the wall.  I found these charts compiled by David Nadle, using data provided by Knauf Insulation and Brad White.  For more detailed insulation info search the wall using the above two names in the author box.  



    It appears to me that considerable savings of BTU's can be achieved, going from nothing (bare pipes) to one inch.  Further savings can be acheived by applying the insulation thicker, but will have a longer payback. 
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Cement and Mastic

    Hi Crash- I must have missed Gerry Gill's post where he posted those pictures. I'm rather interested in his use of cement for the fittings as I always thought on the insulated system pictures he posted the he was using PVC covers on the fittings which shows how clean a job the cement does.

    Was the brand /type of cement mentioned and which Childers mastic was used? It would seem a lot easier to do the fittings that way. Thoughts?  Any idea if  the cement has near the insulating value of the fiberglass /pvc?  If nothing else the absence of gaps in the cement vs pvc would make up for a lot I imagine.

    - Rod
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    I think

    last fall was the first time that Gerry posted pics of that method of insulating.  If you search / childer's mastic / all time / all categories / Gerry Gill / you will find all the details he has written on the subject.  I seem to remember he mentioned McMaster Carr as one of the suppliers. 

    I think this method is as good or better than PVC.  It looks much cleaner as well.  After time, the pvc tape discolors.  PVC is difficult to work with, you know, trimming to fit and all that.  I dont know the specific insulating value of the insulators cement, but it sounds comparable to the old style asbestos.

    I have a small section of main yet to do, I might try it there for a comparison.
  • David NadleDavid Nadle Posts: 624Member
    Interpreting the graphs

    I stand by the calculations and recommendation of 1" insulation on 2" mains, but there are two important caveats: ASHRAE code requires 1.5", and the calculations don't include labor.



    If you are factoring labor, even your own labor, into the decision then the materials cost becomes a fraction of the total cost and it may be appropriate to spring for the 1.5".



    One other tip is that this stuff is bulky and shipping it is expensive. If you can find a local source and pick the stuff up yourself you'll save a lot.
  • JohnL_2JohnL_2 Posts: 13Member
    Use 3E plus for Heat Loss Calculations

    The Insulation Cement used on elbows (instead of the PVC elbows) is called Cal-Coat 127 and comes in 45lb bags.  PVC covers are easier to install (on steam you just use thumb tacks to hold it in place) and gives a nice clean look.

    For calculating heat loss, a great tool to use is 3E plus:

    http://www.insulation.org/techs/3EPlus.cfm
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,674Member
    insulation color

    Ok so the pipe insulation I bought is a brownish grey color not the usual yellow color.



    Does this mean anything?  I bought the insulation from the site JohnL recommends : www.buyinsulationproducts.com



    It seems like really good quality stuff I'm just curious why the different color.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JohnL_2JohnL_2 Posts: 13Member
    New Knauf Earthwool Fiberglass Pipe Insulation

    ChrisJ,

    That is the new Knauf Earthwool Fiberglass Pipe Insulation that is formaldehyde and phenol free.  It has the new Ecose Technology binder (holds the fiberglass together) which is made from natural bio-based ingredients instead of petroleum products (which gives the brownish color rather than yellow). Its also made from recycled glass.  The ASJ Jacketing is also the new ASJ+ which is more durable than the regular paper and can be wiped clean with a damp paper towel (the old paper ASJ jacket used to get dirty and that was it).

    Here is the datasheet on it:

    http://www.buyinsulationproducts.com/files/43037362.pdf
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    How much does an un-insulated pipe cost you?

    Thanks John, I downloaded the 3E plus program.  It will take some time to learn.  While I was snooping around at the 3E site, I stumbled into the WBDG site and found this calculator that does much the same as the 3E software, without the learning curve. 



    The Energy Calculator for Horizontal Piping http://wbdg.org/design/midg_design_echp.php is very easy to run and you will have your calculation within minutes.  It is an on-line calculator so there is nothing to install.



    I was curious how many btu's/hour one of my mains was giving off, and how much that was costing us prior to covering it with 1" glass fiber.  I also wanted to know what the difference would be if I had used 0.5" instead of 1.0". 



    Most of the input boxes are pretty much straight forward. On line 10, 11, and 13, I just used the default settings because I have no idea what the actual is.



    I was kinda surprised at this calculators claim, that even a half inch of insulation is going to reduce your fuel bill a lot. 

    Anyway I just wanted to share the calculator with anyone who wanted to find out what those bare pipes in the basement are costing them.  Insulate those pipes and save yourself some $$$. 
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,674Member
    edited September 2011
    hours

    Crash,



    I don't think your steam system runs over 8000 hours per year :).





    HOWEVER,  I don't think that calculator takes the fact cooling steam causing it to turn back into water and return to the boiler without doing ANY work wastes a ton of energy.  I think it only takes the loss of heat from the pipe into consideration.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    See what happens

    when you don't do the math.  I re-ran the calculator for a 75 foot run of 1.5".  The pipe wrap cost about $1.50/foot so I doubled that for my labour, to make it 3 bucks a foot.  75 X 3 = 225.  Then adjusted line 7 down to .19 to make my 1" installed cost to near $225.  Line 10 Operating hours per year was changed to 2100 hours.  Line 13 Cost of fuel changed to $6.09.



    Any way you crunch it 1" glass fiber, as long as you don't pay more than 3 bucks per foot, pays for itself in the first year.  Next year its money in the bank and not up the chimney.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,674Member
    New Knauf Earthwool Fiberglass Pipe Insulation

    For what its worth this insulation did seem like it was much higher quality than the kind I've always seen before.



    The jacket feels more like plastic than paper and seems heafty.  I can prey it won't make itchy dust like the older stuff but I'm probably pushing my luck with that.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JohnL_2JohnL_2 Posts: 13Member
    Stop Fiberglass from Itching

    ChrisJ,

    Unfortunately this is still fiberglass and it will still have the same itchy dust like the yellow fiberglass.  FYI, if you get fiberglass on your skin, rinse it off with cold water.  This will keep your skin pores smaller and lessen the chance of a fiber from getting into a pore.  If you use hot water (like for a shower), your pores open wide and you could be itching all night.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Removing "the Itch"

    if you are working with / cutting fiberglass, wear a dust mask to keep the floating fibers out of your lungs.

    To stop itching John's advice about rinsing off with cold water first is right on. If you continue to itch, wrap some masking tape around the palm of your hand with the sticky side out and then "pat" the itchy area. Be sure to wash any clothing, contaminated with fiberglass, separately from the rest of the family wash otherwise your wife will have grounds for divorce! 

    - Rod
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Exaust fan

    Also, put an old box fan in the window.  Do all your cutting while close to the fan.  As long as you are up-wind you won't get any fiber on you.  Same goes for snapping the wrap on the pipe.  Stay up-wind. 
  • Mark_125Mark_125 Posts: 56Member
    expressinsulation.com

    Good prices and fast delivery...but don't expect them to ever answer an email or their phone.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,674Member
    T covers

    What is easiest way to cut the bullhead opening for the T cover?



    Do you cut it to fit under the edge of the pipe insulation so you cannot see the cut? I am using these covers all on reducing T's so the opening will be smaller than full size.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • crash2009crash2009 Posts: 1,484Member
    Scissors

    I used surgical scissors.  Razor slips to easy.  Save the bullhead for an end cap.  Leave about a half inch on it, unless you need more length on the T.
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