How Much Does Pipe Insulation Cost?
$110 - $1,100
$110 - $1,100
Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.
Updated December 22, 2022Reviewed by Jeff Botelho, Licensed Journeyman Plumber.
Plumbing insulation costs between $110 and $1,100 per 100 linear feet, all-in. Nationally, the average is $600 per 100 linear feet. In theory, this is a project that's suitable for DIY, which can save you significant money. However, if you're in an area where winter temperatures drop below zero, it may still be worth hiring a plumber or insulation expert for large-scale projects. You can also contract with a handyman to make sure your cold water pipes don't freeze.
*Per 100 feet
Pipe insulation is a thermal protective covering surrounding a pipe to protect against conditions that may damage the pipe or nearby areas. Pipe insulation is most commonly found in anything plumbing related in order to keep pipes from freezing. Your plumber may suggest insulating your pipes if you live in a very cold climate.
Other benefits to pipe insulation include:
Reducing condensation around pipes, which can cause damage to walls and floors.
Reducing energy costs by retaining heat whenever hot water is used.
Protecting yourself from getting accidentally burned on an exposed hot pipe.
Controlling and dampening noise coming from loud pipes.
Depending on your state’s building codes some pipes are required to be insulated based on their purpose and location within your home.
Plumbing insulation prices vary from $0.20 to $3 per linear foot, which works out at $20 to $300 per 100 linear feet. This is the cost range of tubular insulation only. Tee joint and elbow joint insulation sleeves cost an additional $0.50 to $2 each. This does not account for labor.
Plumbing insulation labor costs range from $45 to $200 per hour, depending on whether you hire a nearby plumber or local handyman. And remember, these professionals charge a minimum of one hour, even if a job only takes 10 minutes. For a simple job, a handyperson can insulate 100 feet of pipe in around two hours, costing you between $90 and $400 in labor. If the job is more complex and time-consuming, such as due to working in a tight or inaccessible spot or having lots of joints to cover, it can take up to four hours, costing you $180 to $800 in labor. You might save on the cost of installing new plumbing pipes, as your pro will most likely add insulation as part of the overall project, reducing labor time and costs.
The total cost per linear foot for pipe insulation is $1.10 to $11. This is broken down into materials at $0.20 to $3 per linear foot and labor at $0.90 to $8 per linear foot. Therefore, for a 100-foot insulation job, you could pay anywhere from $110 to $1,100.
There are three main types of pipe insulation, and each is better suited to different applications and budgets. If you live in an extremely cold environment and your pipes are at serious risk of freezing, you'll need insulation with a higher R-value. The R-value of a product refers to how much heat it allows to pass through. The higher the R-value, the more effective the product is as an insulator.
Fiberglass tubular pipe insulation is well-suited to insulating hot water pipes and costs $1.80 to $3 per linear foot, depending on the thickness of the pipe wraps. It can work for cold water pipes. Plus, fiberglass is an irritant and those tiny fibers get everywhere, so even if you're wearing protection, it's not desirable for use in tight quarters.
However, if you're insulating pipes in areas of elevated fire risk, high summer temperatures, or insulating pipes carrying extremely hot water, fiberglass is the go-to choice. It is capable of tolerating extreme heat whereas foam and rubber would melt.
Tubular foam insulation starts at $0.20 per linear foot and goes up to $1.35 per linear foot. Foam insulation is easier to work with over long lengths and in tight quarters than fiberglass and isn't an irritant, so it doesn't require any PPE to use safely. Foam is a solid, budget-friendly option well-suited for insulating regular hot and cold residential water pipes. In temperate climates, it's a better option for insulating cold water pipes than fiberglass as it doesn't get saturated by moisture from sweating pipes and often has a higher R-value. The water droplets simply pass through the foam layer without compromising efficiency.
Rubber tubular insulation costs from $0.90 to $1.45 per linear foot. Tubular rubber insulation is a popular choice for working in tight or challenging areas because it's so flexible. Plus, because of its flexibility, you don't need tee joints or elbow joints as, with a few cuts in the right places, the rubber insulation can adequately insulate bends and joints.
Factors that influence the cost of plumbing insulation include the complexity of the job. In a challenging environment or an area that's tight or difficult to access, the plumber or handyperson has a tougher, more time-consuming job on their hands, so naturally, the costs will increase.
The thickness or R-value of the insulation also has a direct impact on cost. The higher the R-value, the more the insulation costs. However, in areas with below-freezing winters, there's a real risk of pipes freezing if they aren't adequately insulated, so high R-value insulation is necessary to avoid the cost of fixing a burst cold water pipe.
The cost to insulate your plumbing yourself is pretty low, with tubular insulation starting at $0.20 per linear foot. However, if you live in an area where insulating your pipes to avoid freezing and bursting is essential, you're probably better off leaving it to the pros. Even though it's a simple job, if you get it wrong, you'll be looking at a very costly repair bill if a pipe freezes and bursts. Properly insulation pipes will not sweat, however saturated insulation is indictive of a leak or improperly sealed joints.
While it's not an essential requirement, insulating your hot water pipes is a good idea. It's true that they're not at risk of freezing in most scenarios, but insulating them reduces heat loss and therefore energy consumption. Insulating hot water pipes can increase water temperature by as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to lower the thermostat by the same amount without noticing any reduction in warmth. Each year, that's a significant saving on your energy bill and a good reduction in your home's carbon footprint.
No. While pipe insulation is a good first step to avoid your pipes from freezing and bursting, it is not a fail-safe solution. If you live in a very cold climate, you should be taking additional measures such as whole home insulation and making sure areas of the home are properly heated.
You can purchase fiberglass pipe wrap at your local hardware store to install yourself or hire a pro to install. There is also a tubular form of pipe insulation, but keep in mind that should not be installed near high heat areas like a furnace.
If you choose to install it yourself, simply clean the pipes (allow to dry overnight if needed), then wrap the insulation around the pipe and secure with duct tape.
For both applications, pay close attention to the “R-Value” of the product you’re buying, which is the measure of thermal resistance (also known as how well the insulation can keep the pipe warm).