Better Quality Heat Tape For Water Riser?

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Burger Steak & Eggs
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:12 am

Hello from a new home in Northern Alberta. :mrgreen:

My water input consists of a vertical 1" black plastic riser inside a 4" white plastic culvert. The culvert is 10' long with 3' above ground and 7' below. Department store (orange and black) constant wattage heat tape is attached to the riser all the way up and down.

Christmas day I was heading out to see the family. When I turned on the water, nada. :( The heat tape was cold and it was -15C outside so the riser had frozen between the ground and the bottom of the home. Two Costco radiant heat dishes until 2AM got it flowing again and no leaks that I could find. I bought the identical orange and black heat tape on Boxing Day and used a fishing weight to hang it down to the bottom of the culvert. I taped it to as much of the riser as I could but obviously further down the culvert the heat tape is not in contact with the riser. I insulated the culvert heavily and the new tape seems to be generating enough heat to keep things thawed, despite not being in direct contact with the riser. I was told this is common.

My concern is with the quality of the department store heat tape. The original tape lasted only two months. What I didn't include above was that one of the replacements I bought on Boxing Day also failed cold. I was careful as I could be handling the replacement tape but this tape must be of the lowest quality possible. I pulled both failed units apart and noticed that the crimps between the nichrome heating wire and the "normal" wire were the sources of failure. The nichrome wire, despite being hair thin, was always intact.

My intention is find and buy the best quality heat tape possible and hang in down the culvert in place of the orange and black junk currently heating the culvert. Any suggestions to this end?
User avatar
Posts: 5696
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:01 pm
Location: Weedsport, NY

Try a plumbing supply house for heat tape, I would take the defective tape back at the very least. There is one type of tape that is a stainless steel braid you can buy it by the foot and assemble it your self, That seems to work very well.

There is also a style that uses a duct tied into the furnace duct. I don't know anything about it other than it does exist and in theory it should work, as long as the furnace is working.

"If I can't fix it, I can screw it up so bad no one else can either."
Steve S.
Posts: 117
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 7:41 pm
Location: Maine

I have a Frostex Plus self-regulating heat tape...going on 20 years and never had a freeze-up in the middle of cold Maine winters except when I lost power. Expensive, but well-worth it. You can find on eBay. Mine is not wound around riser but attached straight down one side and well-insulated.