Can You Use Heat Tape On PEX Pipe?

If you’re wondering whether you can use heat tape on PEX pipes, you’ve come to the right place. As the temperature drops and winter approaches, the concern of freezing pipes becomes a priority for homeowners. Heat tape, a self-adhesive, electrically-powered solution, presents an effective method to prevent pipes from freezing in cold weather conditions.

Can You Use Heat Tape On PEX Pipe

However, before you go ahead and apply heat tape to your PEX pipes, there are some essential considerations to keep in mind. In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of heat tape and its compatibility with PEX pipes, ensuring you make an informed decision to safeguard your plumbing system.

What is Heat Tape?

Heat tape, also known as heating cable, is a specialized electrical device designed to prevent freezing of pipes during winter. It consists of a flexible, insulated cable with an integrated heating element. The tape is wrapped around the pipes, and when activated, it generates heat to maintain the temperature above freezing levels.

Introducing PEX Pipes

PEX pipes, short for cross-linked polyethylene pipes, have gained popularity in the plumbing industry due to their flexibility, durability, and resistance to freezing. They are commonly used for water supply lines and radiant heating systems. However, the question arises: can you use heat tape on PEX pipes without causing damage?

The Compatibility Factor: Using Heat Tape on PEX Pipes

Choosing the Right Type of Heat Tape

Not all heat tapes are created equal, and this holds true for their compatibility with PEX pipes. The consensus across web search results suggests that only automatic thermostatically controlled heat tape should be used on PEX pipes. This specific type of heat tape incorporates a thermostat that regulates the heating element, turning it on and off as required to prevent freezing. On the other hand, non-automatic heat tapes can potentially harm PEX pipes, leading to freezing or even damage if the temperature becomes too high or if they are applied for an extended period.

Determining the Appropriate Size of Heat Tape

Selecting the correct size of heat tape is paramount to ensure efficient and safe operation. The size of the heat tape is influenced by factors such as the diameter of the pipe, the thickness of insulation surrounding the pipe, and the ambient temperature of your region. For instance, if you reside in a colder climate with substantial insulation around your PEX pipes, a larger heat tape will be necessary. Conversely, if you’re in a warmer area with thinner insulation, a smaller heat tape will suffice.

Installing Heat Tape on PEX Pipes

Applying heat tape to your PEX pipes involves a systematic process that ensures effective results and prevents potential damage.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

Begin by cleaning the surface of the pipe using a damp cloth. Allow it to dry completely before proceeding.

Step 2: Measure and Cut

Measure the length of the pipe that requires heat tape coverage. Cut the heat tape according to the measured length. Ensure that the tape sections do not overlap or leave gaps between them.

Step 3: Wrap and Secure

Peel off the backing of the heat tape and carefully wrap it snugly around the pipe. Make sure that the metal plate of the heat tape maintains contact with the pipe surface.

Step 4: Secure in Place

Secure the heat tape by using electrical tape or zip ties. Avoid using nails or staples, as these can cause damage to both the pipe and the heat tape.

Step 5: Test the Heat Tape

Plug in the heat tape to an electrical outlet and test its functionality. The heat tape should feel warm to the touch, indicating that it’s operating effectively. However, it should not become excessively hot.


In conclusion, the use of heat tape on PEX pipes is indeed a feasible solution to prevent freezing during colder months. By opting for automatic thermostatically controlled heat tape and selecting the appropriate size, you can safeguard your plumbing system without compromising its integrity. Following the installation steps diligently ensures the efficient performance of the heat tape, providing you with peace of mind throughout winter.

FAQs About Using Heat Tape on PEX Pipes

Can I use non-automatic heat tape on PEX pipes?

It’s recommended to avoid non-automatic heat tapes on PEX pipes, as they can potentially cause damage or freezing if not regulated properly.

Is professional installation necessary for heat tape on PEX pipes?

While it’s possible to install heat tape yourself, professional installation ensures accurate sizing and placement, minimizing the risk of errors.

Can I overlap heat tape sections?

Overlapping heat tape sections should be avoided, as this can lead to uneven heating and potential damage.

Can heat tape be used on exposed outdoor PEX pipes?

Yes, heat tape can be used on exposed outdoor PEX pipes to prevent freezing and ensure uninterrupted water flow.

What’s the lifespan of heat tape on PEX pipes?

The lifespan of heat tape varies, but proper maintenance and regular checks can help ensure its longevity.

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