How to Use Heat Tape on PVC Pipe

Step 1: Perform a Safety Check

Before you start working, verify that you have the correct heat tape for indoor or outdoor use and that the tape you have chosen is suitable for PVC pipe. If you plan on wrapping any PVC drainpipe, confirm that your tape allows for that. The requirements for drains are a little different, so check your tape to make sure it's safe.


1.Check your measurements. The amount of heat tape you need will depend on the length of pipe you're wrapping and how wide that pipe is. The tape packaging will help you determine how much tape you need, and it's a good idea to make sure you have enough before you get started.


2.Verify that there is a ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) outlet nearby to plug in your heat tape. If not, have one installed by a licensed electrician.


3.Examine the pipes you plan to wrap and verify that there are no leaks. If you find any, fix them before proceeding.


4. Remove any old heat tape or pipe insulation if applicable.




Step 2: Wrap the Pipe

When wrapping the pipe, begin at the electrical outlet to make sure you have enough length to plug the tape in easily. You can then proceed to wrap the pipe according to the tape manufacturer's instructions. Note that though it is often called "heat tape," sometimes you will actually find a less flexible heat cable. Cables typically run along the side of the pipes rather than wrapping them.


1.Wrap the tape snuggly around the pipe, leaving as much space between wraps as the tape instructions suggest. The goal isn't to cover the entire pipe in tape. Spacing the tape wraps too close together can cause overheating of the pipe and can create problems.


2.Secure the heat tape to the pipes at least every 2 feet with a piece of electrical tape. If your heat tape comes with some other type of fastener, you can use it instead of electrical tape to hold the heat tape in place.


3.Manipulate the end of the wrap so that the end cap is not touching the ground, where it could collect moisture and short out.


4.Insulate the pipes over the heat tape if allowed by the tape manufacturer. Some tapes cannot be covered. Others can but only if the pipe insulation is made of fiberglass or other nonflammable materials.


5. Plug in your heat tape as needed to prevent freezing. Always plug the tape directly into a three-prong GFCI outlet. Plug it directly into the outlet and never into an extension cord.