Water, water everywhere
One of the common issues we face when we conduct a building survey is water, and especially problems caused by a lack of insulation in the winter months.
Homeowners are invariably aware of the benefits of insulating their loft to prevent heat loss, but they tend to be less conscious that laying insulation in the loft can result in the loft temperature dropping and therefore the pipework or even the water tank freezing. As a result, we recommend not only insulating tanks in the loft to reduce the risk of freezing, but also leaving the floor area around the tanks to benefit from the rising warmth from below. In addition, all pipes, with the exception of those within or under the loft insulation or within the tank casing, should also be insulated.
We would recommend using mineral wool matting to lag pipework, as this can be wrapped around the pipes like a bandage and can then be secured with tape or string. It’s best to ensure that the pipes are insulated with no gaps, and it’s advisable also to cover taps and stopcocks. Pre-formed moulded insulation is available to fit most pipe sizes as well as taps and stopcocks. It’s possible to cut the moulded casing at an angle to ensure a snug join on all corners and bends, and the sections can be taped together to give seamless insulation.
When it comes to insulating water tanks, there are several ready-made insulation jackets on the market. Sizes are measured by the vertical height of the tank to the top of the dome and the overall diameter, and the two most popular sizes are 900mm x 450mm and 1050mm x 450mm. You will find that most cylinder jackets comprise a number of segments which are held together by a cord tied around the top of the cylinder, and a number of ‘belts’ around the tank. It’s important not to cover the cap and electric cables of any electric immersion heater that might be fitted to your tank, and bear in mind that if the tank is heating an airing cupboard, the effectiveness of this will be reduced.
We’d advise insulating any cold water tanks in your loft around the sides and on the top. Any insulation around the sides of the tank should reach down to the insulation on the loft floor for maximum effect.
It’s possible to purchase pre-cut packs of sheet insulation material for use on standard water tanks, but it’s important not to fit the insulating board directly over the top of the tank. Instead, fit a simple, tight-fitting wooden cover across the top of the tank, and ensure that you’re not impeding any overflow which might be feeding into the tank. You’ll also need to make sure you have access to the ballcock without having to move the insulation, and cover any pipes that enter the tank and overflow so there are no gaps. If there’s a gap between the tank insulation and the loft floor you can use insulating fibre matting around the base of the tank to fill any gaps.
Anglian Home Surveyors are leading building surveyors in Cambridge and Haverhill, so if you’re considering buying a property why not call us on 01223 661439 to commission a full building survey?
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