How Long For Heat Tape To Thaw Pipes

Heat tape is used to prevent your house pipes from freezing during the winter. However, if your pipes are frozen, how long will it take for the heat tape to thaw them? Let's look below to see how long it will take for heat tape to thaw your frozen pipes.

It is important to note that the time it takes for heat tape to thaw your pipes will vary depending on several factors, such as the size and thickness of the lines, the outside temperature, and whether or not the heat tape is wrapped correctly. That being, it could take 45 minutes to a few hours.

Heat tape can be effective when you are in a bind. This article will discuss how heat tape works and how long it will take to thaw your pipes. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about frozen pipes, so read on!

container with liquid nitrogen,Cold metal pipe smoking from transferring liquid nitrogenClose up of container with liquid nitrogen,C, How Long For Heat Tape To Thaw Pipes

How Long Does Heat Tape Take To Thaw Frozen Pipes?

Heat tape, commonly known as heat cables, is used to prevent your house pipes from freezing during the winter. They worked by being wrapped around the pipe and then plugged into an outlet.

The heat generated by the heat tape will maintain a consistent temperature around the pipe, preventing it from freezing.

However, if you aren't home and your pipes freeze, you may wonder how effective heat tape is at thawing them.

As we mentioned earlier, the time it takes for heat tape to thaw your pipes will vary depending on several factors. These include:

  • The size and thickness of the pipes
  • The outside temperature
  • Whether or not the heat tape is wrapped correctly

That said, it could take 45 minutes to a few hours for the heat tape to thaw your pipes. In addition to heat tape, you can use other methods such as a hair dryer, space heater, or heat lamp.

However, one benefit of heat tape is that you can cover more areas with heat tape than with a hair dryer or space heater.

Plus, you don't have to stand there moving the heat source around, as you would with a hair dryer. Wrap the heat tape around the pipe and let it do its job!

If you are home and the weather calls for a frigid day, you may want to consider proactively turning on the heat tape. This will help prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place!

Kevlar, tube with expandable Kevlar braided, very advanced technology

How Long Does Heat Tape Last?

Heat tapes can last for many years, depending on how often they are used and how well they are cared for.

You can prolong the life of your heat tape by doing the following:

Inspect Heat Tape Before And After Use

Since heat tape is technically cables, it can fray or become damaged. This is particularly true for the older style heat tapes composed of multiple wires within a sheath.

As you wrap the heat tape around your pipes, check it for any damage such as cracks, holes, or fraying. If you see any damage, do not use the heat tape and replace it with a new one.

When you are finished using the heat tape for the season, inspect it again and look for any signs of damage. If the heat tape looks damaged, it needs to be replaced before next season.

Store Properly After Use

If you are not using the heat tape for an extended period, it must be stored properly.

First, make sure the heat tape is completely dry. Then, coil it loosely and place it in a plastic bag.

Next, store the heat tape in a cool, dry place such as a cabinet or closet. Do not store the heat tape in direct sunlight or a damp location such as a basement.

Also, ensure the heat tape is not placed near flammable materials such as cleaning supplies, gasoline or paint thinners.

Use A GFCI Outlet

When using heat tape, it is essential to plug it into a ground fault circuit interrupter [GFCI] outlet.

This type of outlet will shut off the power to the heat tape if there is an electrical current leak. This safety feature can help prevent fires caused by heat tapes.

Follow Manufacturers Instructions

Your heat tape can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. However, following the manufacturer's instructions on using and caring for the heat tape is essential.

Failure to do so could void any warranties that come with the heat tape. Also, not following the instructions could damage your heat tape or your home.

Plumber Fastening Pipe Insulation with heat tape

At What Temperature Is Heat Tape Still Affective?

If you live where winter storms can cause temperatures to drop below freezing, you may wonder how cold it needs to be before heat tape is no longer effective.

The good news is heat tape can still work even when the temperatures are very cold. Some heat tapes are effective at temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, the colder it is outside, the longer it will take for the heat tape to thaw your pipes.

That said, plug your heat cables in before a cold snap is expected to hit.

How To Install Heat Tape

If you are unfamiliar with installing heat tape, don't worry - it's quite simple!

  1. First, you will need your heat tape, GFCI outlet, and electric tape.
  2. Next, wrap or run down the length of your pipe.
  3. Now, put the electric tape in different increments along the heat tape. The electric tape will keep the heat tape in place.
  4. Lastly, plug the heat tape into the GFCI outlet.

Now, you're all set! Your pipes will be protected from freezing temperatures. If unsure, you can always consult the manufacturer's instructions for more guidance.

Can You Leave Heat Tape Plugged In?

If your heat tape has a thermostat, you can leave it plugged in. The heat tape will only turn on when the temperature drops below a certain point.

If your heat tape does not have a thermostat, you should unplug it when it is not needed. Leaving the heat tape plugged in could cause it to overheat and become damaged.

In addition, you could also be at risk of starting a fire if you leave the heat tape plugged in when it is not needed. This can happen by the heat tape overheating and blowing the fuse in your electrical panel.

Should Heat Tape Feel To Touch?

If you are unsure whether or not the heat tape is working, you can always touch it to see if it is warm.

Typically, heat tape will warm up within 10 minutes. The tape may be defective if you still do not feel the heat.

It could be that the thermostat is bad or the heat tape itself is damaged. If this is the case, you should unplug the heat tape and use another method to thaw your pipes.

You can also consult the manufacturer's instructions to troubleshoot the issue.

Broken pipe being by a black heat tape

How Hot Does Heat Tape Get?

Depending on the type of heat tape you have, it can get pretty hot! Some heat tapes can reach temperatures of 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, most heat tapes will not get that hot. Typically, heat tapes will only reach temperatures between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Typically, commercial piping will be made of materials that can withstand high temperatures. However, if you use heat tape on residential piping, it is essential to check the manufacturer's instructions to ensure the heat tape will not damage the pipes.

How Much Is Heat Tape?

young adult man hands stretching gray adhesive tape on light blue table

The cost for heat tape can vary depending on the type of heat tape you need and the length of the heat tape.

Typically, heat tapes can range in price from $20-$100. However, high-temperature heat tapes can cost upwards of $200. Regular heat tape will do the job just fine for most homes and quick fixes.

You can find heat tape at most hardware stores, as well as online retailers. Be sure to compare prices to get the best deal.

Check out Frost King's 30-foot Heat Cable on Amazon.

Should I Keep Faucet Open When Thawing Pipes?

It is essential to keep the faucet open when using heat tape or another thawing method. This will help release any water that is still in the pipes.

If water is left in the pipes, it could cause the pipes to burst when they thaw. Allowing the water to drain out will help prevent this from happening.

In addition, flowing water can help thaw the pipes quicker. So, keeping the faucet open is a win-win!

Once the water starts flowing from the faucet, you can close it. Be sure to turn off the heat source, so the pipes do not overheat and burst.

Final Thoughts

container with liquid nitrogen,Cold metal pipe smoking from transferring liquid nitrogenClose up of container with liquid nitrogen,C

As you can see, heat tape or heat cables can be an effective way to thaw your pipes and prevent them from freezing.

Just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and take all safety precautions. You can keep your pipes flowing all winter long with a little effort!

Made it to the end? Here are other articles you might enjoy:

Do Copper Pipes Corrode Or Rust [And How To Prevent It]

How To Thaw Frozen Copper Water Pipes

Can Bathtub Drain Pipes Freeze? [And How To Unfreeze Them]

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *