Skip to Content

How Long Does Heat Tape Last? (Quick Answers)

Heat tape saves you from waterless bathrooms by keeping the pipes warm. But, it is risky to use too old or damaged heat tapes. You can minimize the risk by proper installment and regular checkups. Find out how long you can use a heat tape and related information.

How long does heat tape last?

Heat tape can be used for about 3 years. That means you can enjoy a fluent water supply for three winters after buying heat tape. For safety, heat tapes should be replaced before the 4th winter comes. The heat tape should be checked every winter month to avoid risks. 

Heat tapes look like electric wares but are cleverly designed to generate heat. The heat tape should be carefully handled, installed, and used properly. 

According to CPSC, about 2000 fires are caused by heat tape each year. That’s why knowing the safety measurement of heat tape is essential.

Heat tapes can be used for about 3 years in American weather. Some companies claim that their heat tape lasts more than 3 years. However, the certificate providing companies suggest to use it no longer than 3 years.

Places that have colder weather and longer winters, may need to replace the tapes sooner.

You need three major things to keep in mind to ensure safety. Firstly, installing heat tapes properly. Secondly, check the tape every month when using it. And lastly, Replace the heat tape in time.

There are many other things to know about heat tapes. But first, let’s talk about popular heat tapes and their lifespan.

Flexwatt heat tape:

Flexwatt heat tape is one of the leading heat tape companies in America. The claim is that it lasts 5 years. They have a 5 years warranty too. Flexwatt is CSA approved and UL listed. 

Roof heat tape:

Roof heat tapes usually last 3-5 years. According to the Washington Post, heat tapes should be used for 3 years.

Electric heat tape:

Electric heat tapes should be used for 3 years with proper maintenance.

Reptile heat tape:

Reptile heat tape lasts 3 years without any major issues.  Reptile heat tape can be brought in the foot only. You will have to get a thermostat to install reptile heat tape.

How long does heat tape last on pipes? Does heat tape stay on all the time?

Heat tape will last 3 years without any problem. Most heat tape companies suggest replacing the heat tape afterward. If you install it perfectly, it should not come off before replacing it. 

The problem happens when heat tapes are overlapped. If the temperature rises a bit, the heat pipe should be fine. But overlapped heat tape created a heat zone. Excess heat can cause fire or melt.

Sharp turns while installing can also make the heat tape weak. While warping the pipe with heat tape, keep at least a little bit of space between them. The tape should not touch other parts of itself.

Automatic heat tapes do not stay on all the time. It becomes active when the temperature drops to 40° F.

How long does heat tape last on a mobile home?

You can use heat tape for 3 years in a mobile home without fear. Just don’t use anything that over-insulates the heat tape. Over-insulating can cause fire or burning.

You can use something that can protect it from the environment. Foam spray or other insulating material can cause overheating and those materials are not fire-resistant. 

You must also clean any type of paint or other components before installing heat tape. Pipe materials also matter. 

Heat tapes can generate 450°- 500° F  temperature. Some industrial heat tapes can generate even more heat. Always set the temperature depending on your pipe materials. 140°-160° F temperature is safe for PVC pipes. 

Does heat tape go bad?

Yes, heat tapes can go bad for different causes. Modern heat tapes are safe and made to minimize the risks and maximize longevity. 

If your heat tape has a melted part, any cut or missing part, deep scratches, or black part, don’t use it. Those signs can indicate your heat tape has gone bad and can cause danger.

Check your heat regulator every few weeks as a bad regulator can cause fire or damage to the heat tape. A bad heat tape can cause fire or sudden water blockage due to freezing. 

Heat tape usually causes fire when the heat tape is plugged in and the temperature rises. Self-regulating heat tapes are less risky as they can regulate the temperature according to the environment.

An electrical fire is dangerous as it can’t be controlled with water. So, make sure the heat tape is not damaged before using it.

How can you tell if heat tape is bad?

Knowing the procedure of checking heat tape health is essential to avoid risk factors and hustle. The heat tape must be checked inch by inch one month before the winter. 

After plugging in the heat tape, it must be checked every one month. When the winter leaves, make sure to plug off the heat tape. Here are the steps to check the heat tape.

Switch off:

Switch off the electrical power to the heat tape. 

Remove insulation:

Remove all insulation if there. Note that only fiberglass insulation is safe to use to wrap the heat tape. 

Even though, insulation is not completely safe. It will reduce the energy spent but may cause overheating and melting of the heat tape.

Check the heat tape:

Start checking the heat tape by touch and sight. Look for any cracks or breaks. Complete checking the whole heat tape. If there is a defect, you will have to replace the heat tape.

Check the feature:

Heat tapes should activate at 40° F. To check the feature, fill a big plastic garbage bag with ice. Put the bag over the heat tape near the thermostat. Leave it for 30 minutes. It should drop the temperature to 40° F. 

Plugin the electricity:

Now, plug in the electricity of the heat tape and observe the tape by touching it. Wait for 10 minutes. If the tape is still not warmed up, you will have to change the heat tape.

However, the thermostat machine can also be defective. If you don’t find any problem with heat tape, check the thermostat.

Why does heat tape stop working?

Broken heat tape can be the worst nightmare on a cold winter day. But don’t worry, with a little effort, you can avoid such a problem. Let’s find out why it happens, so you can understand the don’ts.

Installing errors:

Installing is one of the most vital parts of using heat tape. Problematic installation can cause heat tape to go bad. Make sure to avoid sharp turns while warping heat tape around the pipe. Avoid overlaps. Overlapping heat tape can cause overheating, melting, and even fire.

Defective heat tape:

If heat tape has any breaks or cracks it may stop working. It can happen due to animal bites, environmental factors, or old age. To avoid such problems, check your heat tape once every month in the winter season.

Defective thermostat:

Thermostats regulate the temperature and adjust to the environment. If the weather warms up and thermostats don’t work, it may cause melting the heat tape.

Old heat tape:

Heat tapes can be used for about 3 years. Most heat tape companies suggest replacing heat tape after 3 winter seasons. Older heat tapes become weak as the materials have to go through heat and weather. Old heat tape can stop working or even cause danger.

Broken end:

First, you will have to measure how much heat tape you need. You can not cut the heat tape from anywhere. 

UL or CSA certified heat tapes are tasted and much safer. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions before installing. Don’t overlap or add insulators even if the manufacturer’s guide permits.

How often should heat tape be replaced?

Heat tapes should be replaced every three years normally. But keep checking the heat tape every month. If you find any defect before 3 years, you will have to change the tape earlier.

If one lives in a colder place, and the freezing temperatures last longer, he may have to change the heat tape earlier. If you feel the heat tape is being overused than normal, change it after two years to be on the safe side.

If you have any uncertified heat tape, replace it even if it shows no sign of a problem. UL and CSA certify heat tapes after numerous quality and safety checks.

Final thoughts

It’s not safe to use heat tape after 3 years. Because of the environment and heat, the tape gets weak. So, It is risky to use it further. Install heat pads following the right methods and check the heat tape regularly. If you replace and maintain heat tapes on time, it shouldn’t cause any hustle.