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Code Green

Insulating Mechanical Pipes

New provisions in the IRC and IECC are making houses greener

9 Steps to A Greener Code

New homes built using the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) or International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 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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