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Insulating Mechanical Pipes

New provisions in the IRC and IECC are making houses greener

Posted on Dec 7 2009 by Lynn Underwood

9 Steps to A Greener Code

New homes built using the 2009 International Residential Code (IRCInternational Residential Code. The one- and two-family dwelling model building code copyrighted by the International Code Council. The IRC is meant to be a stand-alone code compatible with the three national building codes—the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) National code, the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) code and the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) code.) or International Energy Conservation Code (IECC International Energy Conservation Code.) will be more energy efficient than ever. As a consequence, a builder’s world may become a bit more complex and, in some cases, a bit more expensive.


Code: N1103.3 Mechanical-system piping capable
of carrying fluids above 105°F (41°C) or below 55°F (13°C) must be insulated to a minimum of R-3.
What it means to you: Although this might clear up an inconsistency between previously stated requirements of 1-in. insulation (which is approximately R-4), it at least raises the required insulation values from R-2 to R-3 as a compromise. Remember, though, that this code focuses on mechanical pipes, which could carry fluids such as glycol, not potable-water pipes.

The 2009 building codes reflect practices that not only increase energy efficiency—air-sealing measures and increased insulation, for example—but also address sustainable building practices, such as moisture control.

Other segments of this series:

Part 1: Air Sealing
Part 2: Insulation
Part 3: Lighting
Part 4: Programmable Thermostats
Part 5: Insulating Mass Walls
Part 6: Efficient Windows
Part 7: Insulating Mechanical Pipes
Part 8: Exceeding the Energy Code
Part 9: Vapor Retarders

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