Heat Tapes & Cables
Protect your home from frozen or broken pipes. While insulating your pipes is a good idea, insulation alone may not be enough to prevent bursting pipes from occurring in cold, wet weather. Shop Ace Hardware to find the right supplies from the best brands, including application tape, heating cables and more.
Learn more about how to use heat tape and how to install heating cables with the following helpful heat tape guide from your friends at Ace.
What's the Difference Between Heat Tape and a Heat Cable?
The terms heat tape and heat cables are often used interchangeably to describe a pipe heater cable that's designed to protect your home’s pipes from freezing. Heat tape is available in two primary forms: self-regulating and constant wattage. Although both self-regulating and constant wattage heat cables serve the same purpose, they differ in certain ways.
Self-Regulating Heat Cables
Self-regulating heat cables have a special conductive core that becomes increasingly conductive during colder temperatures. In warmer conditions, the cable decreases its power output, making the core less conductive. While these cables regulate themselves to adjust to surrounding temperatures, they are unable to turn themselves completely on or off. Use a controller or thermostat to help control this type of pip heating cable.
Constant Wattage Heat tape
Constant wattage heat tape delivers the same wattage per lineal foot throughout the entire length of the cable. The cable provides a constant heat output that's not influenced by varying temperatures, making it a preferable solution for homeowners who want to ensure that weather fluctuations won't affect their ability to keep pipes from freezing or bursting.
How Does Heat Tape Work?
Heating tape is actually a heat cable that's encased with electrical wire. When plugged in, the pipe heater cable helps to regulate temperatures and prevent your pipes from freezing in cold weather.
Where to Use Heating Cables
Use pipe heat cables on any metal or plastic water supplies and drain pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, including water supplies located in the following areas:
- Partially underground
- In crawl spaces and basements
- Underneath manufactured homes
- In outbuildings
Heat cables can also be used for roof and gutter deicing purposes. When ice dams form, melting snow and ice can cause water pooling on walkways below. Extensive snow and ice buildup can subject the roof to extensive damage, too. Prevent the risk of roof and gutter ice dams from forming by installing heat tape that's specifically designed for roofing systems.
How Do You Install Pipe Heating Cables?
The installation process of a pipe heating cable is relatively simple. After wrapping your pipes with heat tape, add extra stability by securing the cable with cable application tape that's rated for varying temperatures so it won't lose its adhesive properties. Then, cover the entire pipe with heavy-duty heat wrap for pipes.
How Do You Install Roof Heating Cables?
While pipe heating cables are available in a range of smaller lengths that are suitable for wrapping around pipes, roofing heat cables are extra-long to accommodate most roof and gutter configurations. A roof heat cable kit typically includes roof clips and cable spacers for easier installation. Roof heating cables come with detailed installation instructions, and the cables should be plugged into a GFI grounded outlet. Install roof heating cables when it's dry outside and safe to work from a ladder.
Where to Find Heat Tape
When temperatures begin to plummet, protect your pipes and roof against freezing with the assortment of quality heat cables from Ace Hardware. Shop our online inventory of heat tape, or visit your neighborhood Ace to get expert tips and advice from our helpful staff.