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here water systems are
End of warning pipe Cistern and supply
installed in situations where submerged to stop pipe insulated All pipes in
Heated building access of cold air
they might be subjected to roof space
should be
Clearance required
freezing temperatures the otherwise insulated

professional installer will take care to

ensure that the systems are installed in
Pipes uninsulated
accordance with the Water Regulations.
This should give a reliable trouble-free Internal floor

service, as far as possible, regardless of

the weather. Loft insulation omitted under
cistern if in a heated building
No amount of insulation will prevent
External wall
freezing, insulation simply delays its onset. Cistern in roof space
The better and thicker the insulation, the Unheated building Flushing cistern insulated
longer the delay. So, the best precaution
against the freezing of water systems in
buildings is the obvious one of keeping
Pipes insulated
the building temperature above the Stop valve
as near to
freezing point of water. entry point
as possible

Why might one frozen tube burst Internal floor

whilst another, also frozen, doesn't? Not less than 750

External wall Service pipe insulated
Since copper tubing to EN 1057 thin
wall formerly Table X is capable of Outside unheated WC
withstanding a minimum of 30% Figure 1 Pipes in buildings
expansion and the volume of water
when frozen only increases by about the ice/tube interface. This phenomenon the unfrozen water exceeds the bursting
10%, it is an established fact that if a is called regelation, it allows the ice plug pressure of the tube, the result is a "frost"
copper system is frozen uniformly, it will to move and equalise the pressure at burst. Regardless of the material from
distend but not burst. In practice, local each side. If the ice plug is prevented which the tube is manufactured, once an
freezing results in the formation of a plug from sliding, by an elbow or terminal ice plug forms, the supply of water will
of ice. This grows until the pressure fitting, the pressure builds up as the ice be stopped and so frost precautions are
increase melts the surface of the ice at plug grows until the hydraulic pressure in still necessary.

Tube 0.02 0.025 0.03 0.035 0.04 0.045 Water Regulations

size Water regulations require that all
(mm) (W/mK) (W/mK) (W/mK) (W/mK) (W/mK) (W/mK)
water services (except warning or
15 20 30 (30) 25 25 (62) 32 (124) overflow pipes) and water fittings shall be
protected, so far as is reasonably
22 15 15 (12) 19 19 (20) 25 (30) practicable, against damage from
28 15 15 (8) 13 19 (12) 22 (17)
freezing. Where this protection is to be
in the form of insulation, then Table 1
35 15 15 (6) 9 9 (9) 13 (12) gives suitable thicknesses based on the
Thermal Conductivity of the insulation
42 15 15 (5) 9 9 (7) 9 (9) and the nominal outside diameter of the
Note: Figures in brackets are calculated values shown in BS 6700.
Studying the table will show that a
Table 1: Recommended minimum thickness (mm) of insulation for indoor small diameter tube requires relatively
cold water systems thicker insulation than a large diameter

tube.This is because the smaller diameter
tube (especially when used to carry cold Draw off tap on
water) has relatively less heat energy in it. Outside draw off tap
stand-pipe with
with back-syphonage
It will therefore cool to freezing back-syphonage
temperatures more quickly and so need Stop valve
relatively thicker insulation than larger
Thermal insulation Thermal insulation
diameter tube.
Surface box
Positioning services, appliances
and water fittings
Regulations require tube and water
fittings to be installed in positions where Not less than 750
the risk of freezing is reduced. Particular
Stop valve
care should be taken where double
check valves and other devices used to
prevent backflow and back-syphonage
Figure 2 Outside taps and standpipes
are installed. Tube and fittings which are
at risk must be insulated and be capable
of being drained. Figure 1 illustrates Particular situations requiring flow. Effectively the tape regulates its own
situations where insulation is and is not special care include: temperature to keep itself as well as the
required. Where tube feeds an outside Tube installed near windows, air bricks, tube it protects at the design
tap a servicing valve should be fitted, see external doors, where draughts are likely; temperature with the minimum use of
Figure 2. In ventilated roof spaces the Unheated roof spaces; electricity. The trace-heating tape should
insulation should be equivalent to Unheated cellars; be fitted between the tube and its
outdoor standards. Unheated outbuildings and garages; insulation.
Tube in contact with cold surfaces, such
as the inside of an external wall; Waterproof insulation
Tube in chases and ducts formed in Where insulation is to be used
external walls; where it can become wet, such as
Positions where the service outdoors or underground, it must be
entry point is closer than waterproof. Closed-cell foam type is
Any distance
750mm to external walls, satisfactory. Insulation which can absorb
Suspended see Figure 3. water is actually worse than no insulation
internal floor at all! This is because when wet the
Trace heating tape insulation looses it's insulating properties
Not less than 750 Where water systems because water fills the small pores which
Insulation have to be installed in trap the air. Also, because the insulation
unheated buildings or has a larger surface area than the tube it
external situations above covers, heat is lost more rapidly resulting
ground level, insulation in quicker cooling.
More than 750
must be used. It might also
be necessary to use Prevention of warming of cold
internal floor trace-heating tape if the water services
water supply is not to be This is best achieved by designing the
Not less than 750 interrupted during severe system so that the runs are kept a
Pipe in duct weather conditions. Self- reasonable distance away from sources
no insulation
required regulating trace-heating tape of heat. Where cold water services that
is available, this consists are used for domestic purposes have to
of two electrical conductors be installed near to sources of heat, or
Less than 750
separated by a special run through hot environments, such as in
compound Both are enclosed ducts with hot water or central heating
internal floor in a plastic covering. If mains,Water regulations require them to
the temperature falls the be insulated against heat gain to prevent
Not less than 750 electrical resistance of waste of water.This so that the water will
required the separating compound not be warm when drawn from the taps.
reduces and so electricity Furthermore, if the hot environment is
flows causing the tape to be also humid, such as in a changing room
heated. This heating results and showers, insulation can also be used
Figure 3 Service entry detail in the resistance increasing to prevent excessive condensation
thus reducing the electricity forming on cold water services.