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Air conditioning piping insulation - how important is it?

Postby clivewilliams » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:07 pm

Hi - my home office's air conditioning unit has a copper pipe leading from the internal unit to the external unit that's covered in insulation foam... or a least it was - some squirrels have shredded it, exposing the copper piping on the top half of it for approx 0.5 metres.

The pipe is on a slight downward slope, so I'm assuming ice won't form in it and crack it, but are there any other reasons why having insulation on this pipe is a good idea? Does it just hamper efficiency, or is there a nastier effect of exposing the pipe to the weather that I haven't thought of?

How urgently do you think I need to fix this, or can I safely ignore it altogether? How do people normally protect such insulation from birds/squirrels?

The unit heats as well as cools by the way - in the winter I do use it for heating.

Thanks in advance!

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Simply Build It

Postby Perry525 » Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:01 pm

Buy the best insulation (thickest) you can find at B&Q or similar.
Fit and then cover with a piece of tin from an old oil can, hold in place with wire or jubilee clips. Add wire mesh to outside to stop furry things getting in.
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Postby epsystec » Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:32 pm

Ice will not form in the pipes because there is no water in them.
It sounds like you have a reverse cycle heat pump fitted and although it's not absolutely necessary to insulate 'fridge' pipes (unless they can be touched as they can get quite hot), it is usual to insulate both pipes.
If the pipe lengths are fairly short - say <5m - having no insulation shouldn't make that much difference but if you feel happier with it on then do it.

You don't need to fit the 'thickest' insulation - insulation of fridge pipes is rarely thicker than 13mm on small diameter pipes and I'm guessing yours are no bigger than 12 and 8mm.

Find your nearest branch of HRP and call them ask for pipe dia size x 13mm wall Armaflex and tell them how many lengths you want. They come in 2m lengths. You'll also need to tell them you want it 'split' as you will not be able to slide it over the pipes. You will also need some Armaflex tape or adhesive to close the 'split' once the insulation is fitted.
DO NOT disconnect the pipes to fit it as you will lose all of the gas and then your system will not work until it is re-gassed by a trained engineer.
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