How to apply heat tape to water pipes

Written by samuel sohlden
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How to apply heat tape to water pipes
Heat tape helps prevent pipes from freezing during cold weather. (pipe fitting image by Joann Cooper from

Water pipes can freeze during cold weather, potentially causing leaks and flooding when the pipe thaws. This typically occurs when the pipes are not heated by a heating system. Heating tape acts as a safeguard against frozen pipes during cold weather and is easy to install at home. It's much less expensive to install heating tape than to fix water damage and broken pipes.

Things you need

  • Foam pipe insulation
  • High-quality manufacturer-approved electrical tape
  • Waterproof wrap

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  1. 1

    Check that there are no leaks or condensation on the pipe before applying heat tape. Moisture can cause the heat tape to short out, potentially starting a fire.

  2. 2

    Wrap the heat tape around the water pipe, making sure not to overlap on any sections. The heat tape should be sparsely wrapped around the pipe, meaning no portion of heat tape should come anywhere close to another portion.

  3. 3

    Attach the heat tape using manufacturer-approved electrical tape. Using regular electrical tape is dangerous and could even start a fire. If you aren't sure, contact the heat tape manufacturing company to verify if the brand of electrical tape can be used safely.

  4. 4

    Wrap foam pipe insulation around the pipe covered with heat tape. This will further insulate the pipe against freezing. If the insulation did not come with a waterproof covering then cover it with a waterproof wrap. This is to prevent water from making contact with the heat tape.

  5. 5

    Plug the heat tape into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. These types of outlets are common in bathrooms and require the user to press a button on the outlet before electricity is available. Its purpose is to prevent possible electrocution.

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