An electrical wire is wrapped around a heat cable to create the heating tape. Heat tape is frequently used to melt snow and ice from roofing tiles, gutters, and water lines during the year’s colder months.
Due to its warming capabilities rather than its ability to aid in heat retention, heat tape is superior to pipe insulation. In this article, we will talk about alternatives to heat tapes and many more.
What Is The Best Alternative To Heat Tapes?
Heat tape may not be the best choice if you need greater installation freedom; self-regulating cable might be. Floor heating, heat loss replacement, pipe freeze protection, roof and gutter deicing, and snow melting are just a few of the many uses for heating cables in the home. Both self-regulating and constant wattage cables can be used for the same purpose; however, the optimum option for the job will usually depend on the application.
Before we delve further into the distinctions between the two, a crucial distinction must be made regarding the heating cable, specifically whether it is a self-regulating or constant wattage cable. The term “heat tape” is frequently used to refer to the heating cable, notably in pipe freeze prevention and roof and gutter deicing, understanding that these are two distinct types of systems. The phrase “heat tape,” which has become widely used in the business, is basically just another way to refer to heat cable.
A special conductive core between the two bus wires of a self-regulating heat cable. In response to the cold, the heating cable will increase its wattage per linear foot since this core becomes more conductive under those conditions. This characteristic makes it perfect for preventing pipes from freezing during the winter or clearing ice buildup from gutters. In hotter weather, this cable will also provide less power (in watts per linear foot), as the particular core will become less conductive due to the increased temperature.
Is a thermostat necessary for self-regulating heat tracing? Despite the term “self-regulating,” the cable cannot fully turn on or off by itself. Therefore, we advise using a controller or thermostat with this kind of heating wire.
Types Of Heat Tapes
Silicone heat tapes and braided heat tapes are the two most popular types of self-regulated heat tape. The more popular of the two is silicone heat tape. When you hear the term “heat tape,” the typical flat tape is what you picture. Ensure the silicone heat tape is straight and free of bends or kinks before using it.
Make it a point to provide space between the coils during wrapping to prevent overlaps. Thinner wires are woven together to create a belt-like structure in the case of braided heat tapes so they can be wrapped around the pipe.
They have a smaller setup, making them perfect for mobile homes. They lack the silicone tape’s rubber layer, which nevertheless acts as a moisture barrier. As a result, they require frequent installations and have a shorter shelf life. Heat cables perform the same functions as heat tapes but are in cable form. They frequently have a unique piece of tape to secure them to the pipe.
Heat Tape Vs. Heat Cable
- Heating tape is much more flexible and is thus preferable for pipes with tight curves and unusual shapes. Heat trace cable is slightly hard but malleable enough to wrap it around your pipes and does not shrink. Heat chord is another option, and it is equally flexible to heat tape, except that you can wrap it more loosely.
- The heating cord has the main benefit of being built to order, but it can also be sold in fixed lengths, anywhere between 3 and 24 feet. In terms of length, heat trace cable can be cut to length, and you can also add terminations to it. Heat tape comes in fixed lengths, ranging from 2 to 100 feet, depending on its style, and you should be aware that it cannot be cut or trimmed if you don’t have the right length.
- Self-regulating heat trace cable, in contrast to the other two types, is designed such that it won’t increase above a certain temperature. This is a benefit because it won’t overheat, which makes it ideal for protecting pipes from freezing.
- The way they must be wrapped around pipes is another distinction. The tape is one of the three types that require the most caution. Each pipe must have it properly and tightly wrapped. The tape will overheat and disintegrate if even a tiny portion of it has both sides exposed to the air. This is because that particular segment cannot transport heat any farther. The cord and cable are far more forgiving when it comes to wrapping.
- You will require controllers to regulate heat tape and constant wattage heat trace cable since they will overheat otherwise.
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How To Check If The Heating Cable Is Working?
Here is a quick procedure for efficiently inspecting your heating tapes:
Ensure all electrical supply has been turned off before accessing any circuitry component. This entails simple actions like unplugging the heating cord and more complex ones like turning off the circuit breaker. The best action is to cut off the electricity to the entire plumbing circuit.
Give the circuitry a few minutes to cool down even after the power has been completely turned off. Then you may start taking the insulation off.
Inspect the tape when the insulation has been completely removed, and the entire taping is exposed. Look for any insulation nicks or cracks.
If there are any tears or exposed wiring, stop right there. You don’t need to continue. Rewrap the pipe with new heat tape after removing the taped cover.
Stop the water flow if you can’t find any obvious flaws. A bag of ice or an ice pack should be placed on the pipes.
Allowing the ice to set for nearly 30 minutes. Next, turn on the heat tape’s power supply.
The thermostat is probably the problem if your heat tape doesn’t heat up after 10 minutes.
Swap out the thermostat. Rerun the test procedure. It might be time to hire a professional if the taping system is still ineffective.
Can you use a thermostat with a heat tape?
Thermostat-adjustable silicone rubber heating tapes are made for process temperature control, freeze prevention, and supplemental heating. The flexible heating tape should be wrapped around the item you want to heat, the temperature should be set, and the heat will be maintained at that level.
How long does heat tape last on pipes?
If the heating tape is made specifically for pipes, it can last three years on average. Heating tapes typically fail around two years, which is why it’s so important to check on them frequently.
Will heat tape keep pipes from freezing?
Heat tapes have an extension cord-like appearance. But unlike all other wirings that can become harmful if hot, these tapes are intentionally engineered to produce heat. They are primarily used to avoid ice dams at gutters, downspouts, and roof edges and to prevent water pipes from freezing.