Wrap-on heating cable is available at home improvement stores, including Lowe's, Home Depot and Ace Hardware. These cables provide heat to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. For best results, after installing the cable, the user should add pipe insulation.
Heating cables provide protection for pipes when temperatures drop as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. These cables keep both hot and cold water flowing through the pipes but use only 7 watts of electricity per foot.
For greatest safety, homeowners should only use cables that have a thermostat to prevent overheating. They should purchase cables in lengths to match the pipes they are insulating. When installing the cables, they should avoid overlapping and sharp bends that often cause damage to the pipes. The owner should inspect the cables regularly, replacing them if there are signs of wear or damage.
Frozen pipes prevent water flow, causing a nuisance for residents. The expansion of water from the freezing process often results in burst water pipes. When pipes begin to thaw, the ice dam no longer blocks the pipes and they start to leak. These leaks waste water and cause flooding of homes. The use of heat cable provides an affordable alternative to expensive repairs.