Residential hot water pipes are fitted with insulation to prevent heat loss to the surroundings. Since the insulation is wrapped around the pipe's exterior, it is exposed to the environment and can wear out over time. Old age and water damage can also degrade insulation and cause it to become inefficient. Therefore, watch out for these signs of worn insulation on your hot water pipes.
Increased Energy Bills
Worn-out insulation causes hot water pipes to lose heat to their surroundings. Consequently, the water available at the access points isn't as hot as it should be. When this happens, most people crank up the temperature on the water heater, causing the unit to consume more energy.
If your water heater components are in excellent condition and the appliance is heating water efficiently, check your hot water pipes for worn insulation. Replace the insulation to prevent heat loss. This way, you can access hot water without turning up the water heater thermostat and increasing your energy bills.
Inconsistent Water Temperatures
If you have a storage-tank water heater, your hot water pipes should supply hot water at the same temperature throughout the home. If the water feels lukewarm in one faucet or shower but hot in another, your pipes' insulation has worn out. Inconsistent temperatures indicate some water lines are losing heat to the surroundings.
Do not crank up the water heater thermostat if your system doesn't have a tempering valve, as this can cause scalding at some access points. Instead, locate the worn pipe insulation and replace it to balance out the water temperatures throughout the home.
Moisture Stains on the Walls and Ceiling
Hot and cold water lines are installed at least six inches apart, unless the hot water pipes are insulated. If the insulation wears out, it can cause heat transfer between the hot pipe and the surrounding air. The warm air comes into contact with the nearby cold water pipes, causing condensation to form on the pipes. The condensation drips on the surrounding surfaces, causing moisture damage. If you notice wet spots on walls and ceilings near your plumbing pipes, inspect the insulation on the hot water line and replace it if it's worn.
Frozen Hot Water Pipes
Do you have hot water pipes running through uninsulated spaces, such as the garage, basement, or attic? If so, the pipes should be insulated to prevent freezing during the winter. Once the insulation wears out, the pipes are exposed to cold temperatures, which increases the risk of freezing. Thus, if you turn on a hot water faucet and no water comes out, your pipes may be frozen. Besides thawing the pipe, you should replace the insulation to protect your hot water line from bursting.
Contact a plumbing repair service to inspect your hot water pipes and replace the worn-out insulation.