How do I prevent condensation on pipes?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Josh Wright, Jun 26, 2005.

  1. Josh Wright

    Josh Wright New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I just had new plumbing installed in a single family in Maine. We have ice cold water coming from a well into a Amtrol WX-203 tank; 1-inch copper main to a closet which has all of our water treatment equipment. The water gets treated, goes to a 1-inch manifold and to the hot water heater.

    Our problem is that it is now "raining" in the closet, and from the piping that runs to the closet.

    What is the best way to solve this problem?? I don't want to just insulate the line, because that would just pass the problem to the tanks for the water filtration and Pex lines. The hot water heater is a Rinnai on-demand gas heater, so I did not think installing a tempering valve would make sense. I thought of rigging a couple of loops of baseboard radiator fins for the water to go through before the tank, but I don't know of any that are rated for potable water. I have also thought of adding heat tape, but it seems a waste of energy when I want to be actually pulling heat from the space anyways.

    Thanks for any suggestions - Josh
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2005
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If you insulate the copper pipe, that should do it.
    It's common to insulate exposed copper lines to prevent sweating.
  3. Josh Wright

    Josh Wright New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Thanks for the reply Terry
    There are two main reasons for my not wanting to insulate.
    1.The extra cold water makes it hard for the h2o heater to get the temp rise it needs to provide me with 120 degree water
    2.The insulating would be a retrofit and a pain in various areas. The thought of insulating the 8 section manifolds or all those 90 bends gives me shivers. Plus there is the h2o filter housing and all the treatment equiptment etc.
    I figure there is no "fool"proof way for me to insulate so I am hoping to raise the water's temp before the pressure tank.
    Josh
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Some brands of PEX are insulating in themselves.

    Much better than copper.
  5. Josh Wright

    Josh Wright New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Hindsight being 20/20 I would have smart and spec'd pex mains but I did not and now have to be clever. Of course what I wanted to do was spend a lot of money I don't have and make a "well house" with all my water filtration and pressure tank and free up a lot space inside my house.
    Josh
    Does anyone know of slantfin style baseboard sections that are potable water approved?
  6. terry, brands of pex??

    which brands of pex are insulating ???

    I got a job to do in an attic and am wondering about

    the pex pipe to run hot and cold in????

    how about Wirsbo??
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Sorry I didn't get back sooner about PEX in the attic Mark.

    When I run pipes in the attic, I pull out the ceiling insulation below the pipes.
    After I have run the pipes, I make sure there is batt insullation over the pipes.
    I also make sure that there is no insulation between the pipes and the warm side( ceiling).

    I don't put any pipe insulation on the pipes. Pipe insulation in this case will prevent the warmth of the home from getting to them. I want to create a pocket that is warmed by heat rising from the ceiling.

    Wirsbo PEX does insulate some, it does not conduct like a solid metal. That's why they let you run it in bundles.
    It is more resistant to freezing and can expand some without splitting.
    It's not freeze proof, or burst proof, but it is much better than copper which splits rather easily.

    Of course if you have Josh's sweating pipe problem, you're going to insulate the pipes to keep them from dripping and cover them with batt insulation to keep them from freezing.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2005
  8. attic pex pipe freezeing

    well, its about 98 degrees here today
    and tomorrow I am suppposed to be running a
    couple of pipes through the attic of a home
    for a pipe change out from Quest pipe to
    a combo of pex and type L copper.

    I would love to pull the insualtioin up but its blown in
    and the rafters are running the wrong way...

    dont think drilling the rafters is an option either.

    so I plan on running both hot and cold pipes in a 1 1/2
    armaflex rubber chase with a commercial type ss braided
    heat tape wrapped on the wirsbo pipe .. Probably about
    a 50 foot run to be left plugged in through the winter.

    still planning on getting the pipe as low as possible in the
    insualtion....but the heat cable makes me feel a little
    more confident

    the condenston issue remains , but the home owner does
    not want the pipes running through the house.

    I have heard that the Wirsbo will not freeze break, but it will
    expand and shrink back to shape again. is this true????
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If it were me, I would still remove the blown in insulation and batt over it.

    If the power goes out, those are going to be very cold icey pipes.
    Even in the Seattle area, I do my share of frozen pipe repairs in the Winter.

    I ran across an attic that had previously been run with copper in the attic with pipe insulation. It was all code legal and had been inspected and passed.
    When the power went out, so did all the ceilings and insulation. Everything dropped to the floor below, all over the carpets and furniture.
    By the time the homeowners came home, it was a total loss.

    I always remove the lower insulation and batt over.
    I don't worry at night about the power going out either.

    Will be PEX ever burst? I don't know.
    I don't want it to freeze in the Winter though.
    I've seen homes that couldn't use their plumbing too.
    Sometimes I used a pipe thawer if they were metal pipes.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2005
  10. attic pex work

    installed the pex lines in the attic today
    it was aprox 130 deg up there....

    The wirsbo pex went in very, very nicely.....it actually
    almost fell into place...it acutlally looped around a few long bends
    and went down through the ceiling penetrations very
    nicely on both ends without
    any joints what so ever.

    it was actulally much, much easier than a roll of soft
    copper would have ever gone...

    ran a heat cable on the pipes and covered the whole
    thing with armaflex....

    will bury the whole thing under a batt of insulation
    then throw the old nasty grey rockwool back over the whole
    mess....tomorrow

    I was sort of surprised how cheap Wirsbo pex pipe has become
    around these parts.... a 300 foot roll of 3/4 cost me 138.00 including
    tax!!! I hadent priced any in a long time, and I was stunned.

    that works out to something like 5c per foot, which is far cheaper than I
    ever realized it would be....or remember it being.

    I hate to admit it, but at that drit cheap price, I will probably have to
    start useing more of it for my long home runs.
  11. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,130
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    From where I stand, that looks like 46 cents a foot. Not a bad price.
  12. too much heat today

    yes you are right....46 C per foot....

    too much time in the hot attic today

    fried my circuits


    it really did save a lot of time over wrestling 3/4 soft
    copper
  13. captwally

    captwally New Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Florida
    Another helpful way of reducing condensate on pipes which has not been mentioned is by reducing the humidity in the ambient air around the pipes themselves. Installing a dehumidifier will remove water from the air which is where the condensation is coming from in the first place.
  14. Taylor

    Taylor New Member

    Messages:
    143
    Location:
    Northern Joisey
    There's a whole school of thought that, if you're putting an air handler in the attic, you might as well bring it into the envelope by insulating the attic. Spray foam in the rafter bays. Now allowed by code.

    So pipes in the attic are another reason to do this....
  15. Josh Wright

    Josh Wright New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Thanks for all the responses!
    The reasoning behind not wanting the dehumidifier is the addition of heat into the living space. I was freaked out enough by all the condensation pooling on my new subfloor etc.. that I went out and bought an air conditioner and it had the fringe benifit of making my girlfriend happy ;) This lessened but did not solve the problem.
    Josh
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