While it’s important to know how to check if heat tape is working, you also need to know how long does heat tape last. Are you a mobile homeowner preparing for the upcoming winters? Do you live in the cooler regions of the country? Is freezing pipes a major concern for you? Then you should know how to check whether your heat tape is working. But more importantly, you also need to know how long does heat tape last.
How long does heat tape last?
On average, heat tapes can last for around three years. However, most heat tapes tap out within two years, so it’s essential to check if your heat tape is regularly working. A bi-annual inspection of your heat tape can help you detect problems early and increase your heat tape’s lifespan.
Heat tape is a household essential, especially if you are living in the cooler regions of the country. Moreover, it also becomes a necessity if you have opted for alternative living solutions. Since it serves as a heat source that is kept close to the water lines to prevent water from freezing, you need to know how long does heat tape last.
But more importantly, you also need to know how to check whether or not your heat tape is working. And that’s what this post is all about.
After thorough research about kind types of heat tapes, how they work, and how long they last, we have compiled this guide for you so you can learn more about how long heat tapes last and enjoy a convenient cooler season ahead. So let’s get started.
What is Heat Tape?
Heat tape is an external heating cable designed to prevent your metal or plastic water pipes from freezing. A heat tape is a small, flexible cable that you can conveniently attach to the water pipe and helps maintain the temperature of the water pipe so the water flowing inside the pipe doesn’t freeze.
Installation of heat tape doesn’t necessarily need to be done by a professional, but doing so can ensure a tight seal so that moisture doesn’t get under your pipe insulation. Just be sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Essentially, a heat tape is an electricity-based device that produces heat around your pipe. Since it is kept close to the vulnerable water lines, it ensures that the water inside the pipes doesn’t freeze.
In cooler regions of the country, heat tape is one of the most popular ways to protect pipes against freezing because it’s quite effective. Moreover, heat tapes also make a pocket-friendly solution to prevent water freezing.
Heat Tape for Mobile Homes
While heat tape is a household essential for all types of homes in the sub-freezing region, it is a particularly important heating system for mobile homes. However, you need to be extra careful when choosing heat tape for your mobile home as most of the water lines in mobile homes are made using old-school water supply lines used; they are too thin to resist heat tape temperatures.
Therefore, it is critical that mobile homeowners should invest in shielded heat tape that is appropriately designed for their home’s specifications.
How Does Heat Tape Work?
For you to know how long does heat tape last and to be able to check if your heat tape is appropriately working, you should have an understanding of how a heat tape works.
The heat tape is made up of two parts; the inner wires and the outer insulation. The inner heating wires form the center of your heat tape. Moreover, electricity is supplied to the inner wires, which are controlled by a thermostat that is typically a part of your heat tape.
Once you set the thermostat, the energy supply through electricity heats up the wire, which keeps the water in the pipes from freezing.
In most cases, it is best to set the thermostat’s limit way higher than what it needs to be to prevent freezing. However, the higher temperature setting may lead to the burning of the wire or the insulation layer, which is why you need to know how to inspect your heat tape.
But before we get into the steps of how you can inspect your heat tape, we look at different types of heat tapes that you can find on the market.
Different Types of Heat Tapes
While you can find several different types of heat tapes, the two most common self-regulated heat tapes that make a great choice for various types of households are
- Silicone heat tapes, and
- Braided heat tapes.
Silicone heat tape is a flat tape featuring a multi-stranded resistance wire heating element and makes one of the most durable types of heat tapes that provide a rapid thermal response. If you are using silicone heat tapes, make sure there are no bends on the tape as it can damage it.
Moreover, when wrapping heat tape, ensure that there is some space between the coils so that there are no overlaps.
On the other hand, braided heat tapes are thinner heat types that appear similar to shoelaces as they are woven to form a belt that you can wrap around the pipes. Braided heat tapes are more compact, which is why they are an idea for mobile homes.
However, unlike silicone heat tapes, braided heat tapes do not have rubber insulation which could mean a shorter life span and frequent replacement.
How to Check Whether Your Heat Tape is Working?
Now that you know what a heat type is and how it works, let’s look at how you can check whether your heat tape is working. Here is a step-by-step guide for you.
Step # 1 – Ensure that your home’s electric supply has been cut off. Moreover, also make sure that you unplug the heating cord. Ideally, you should turn off the electric supply to the plumbing circuit to ensure your safety.
Step # 2 – After switching off the circuit, let it cool down for a few minutes before removing the insulation.
Step # 3 – Once you remove the insulation and can see the entire tape, you can examine it and look for any cracks or other signs of damage on the tape’s insulation.
Step # 4 – If you notice any exposed wires, know that it’s time to replace the heat tape. However, if you don’t notice any defects, you should turn off the water flow, place an ice pack on the pipes, and let it sit for half an hour.
Step # 5 – Remove the ice pack and turn on the power supply for your heat tape. Check if your heat tape is heating up. If it doesn’t heat up within 10 minutes, there could be a possible problem with the thermostat. You can retry the testing process to identify if there is a need for thermostat replacement.
Step # 6 – If your heat tape doesn’t work even following thermostat replacement, know that it could be the time to call a professional.
How Long Do Heat Tapes Last?
Knowing how a heat tape works is critical, but you should also know how long do heat tapes last, so you have a better idea of your heat tapes life when you inspect them.
On average, a heat tape that is well-suited to the pipe typically lasts for three years. However, some heat tapes may wear out sooner. Regular inspection of your heat tape allows you to detect any potential issues with your heat tape early on, which in turn may help increase your heat tape’s lifespan.