Podcast - Jake Lyon discussing pipe insulation


MIDFIX join forces with a leading pipe insulation expert to discuss the latest developments in pipe insulation and how the 2050 net zero carbon emissions can be met in our latest podcast.

With over 20 years’ experience, Chris Ridge (Kingspan) in today’s podcast underlines the importance of correctly specifying the right pipe insulation support blocks. He also discusses:

  1. The key factors to consider when choosing an insulated pipe support block
  2. How can we overcome contractor issues on post-installation?
  3. The role which pipe insulating plays in achieving the UK’s 2050 net-zero carbon emissions.

What are the key factors that need to be considered when choosing a pipe support insulation block?

  • The size of the block needs to marry up with the size of the insulation
  • Vapour seel needs to be maintained through the support on below ambient applications

Key standards for pipe insulation include the Code of practice for Thermal insulation of pipework, ductwork, associated equipment, and other industrial installations in the temperature range of -100°C to +870°C (BS 5970:2012). The code of practice also includes the method for specifying thermal insulating materials for pipes, tanks, vessels, ductwork and equipment operating within the temperature range -40°C to +700°C (BS 5422:2009). BS 5422 2009 lays out a maximum watts per meter heat loss or heat gain depending on pipe size/service temperature etc.

  • Different thermal insulation materials have different thermal conductivity values. High-performance insulants such as Kooltherm can meet the watts per meter heat loss requirements with smaller thicknesses of insulation.
  • Consider the thermal performance of the product, taking into consideration the materials being used.
  • Pipe support insulation blocks maybe a small part of the installation but they can be a key contributing factor to the thermal efficiency of a building.

What are the three main issues for contractors when it comes to pipe insulation blocks once a build is complete?

From a contractor’s point of view they need to have complete trust that mechanical subcontractors carry out their work to the highest standard, adhering to all installation regulations and the British Standard: BS 5970, be built on time and on budget.

The second main issue for manufacturers of the product is the disconnection between a mechanical fixing package and the pipe insulation package. Lack of communication can cause the wrong pipe insulation support block to be specified resulting in a reduction in thermal efficiency.

Another issue at the forefront of all contractor’s minds is the UK’s 2050 net-zero carbon emissions legislation. This ground-breaking promise puts into law that all UK buildings constructed from the year 2050 need to be built with zero carbon emissions. By law, each principle contractor will need to prove that it has been.

What are the key issues that affect the installers and the occupants of a building with inefficient thermal insulation?

When connecting onto a heat network or a central plant you could realistically have pipework running at 75 degrees for your heating and 60 degrees for your water. Insufficient levels of insulation and the absence of load-bearing pipe insulation inserts can often lead to overheating of corridors and risers in multi-residential buildings. Not only is this costly and inefficient it can also be detrimental to the wellbeing of residents.

What role do the British Standards play in relation to thermal efficiency?

BS5422 outlines the watts per metre heat gain or loss that each pipe needs to be benchmarked against. The specifier should be able to confidently select the right thickness of pipe insulation support block to meet the standards.

How can we overcome contractors’ issues that occur post-installation?

Contractors and consultants require peace of mind that their project is running smoothly, so how does the correct pipe insulation blocks help to provide peace of mind post-installation. If correctly specified pipe insulation support blocks help to mitigate against issues of heat transfer, heating, or hot water pipe and therefore increasing the thermal efficiency of the building. It is important that specifiers select the right insulated pipe support block – with Kingspan you can be sure of a product with a complete vapour seal guaranteeing no condensation issues.

To ensure there are no headaches from the contractor’s side it is important that they specifier trusted mechanical subcontractors who consider pipe support insulation blocks as an integral part of the building.

A third and final point is pricing, if pricing is the focus then it can lead to purchasing inefficient pipe insulation support blocks resulting in poor thermal efficiency.

What impact will the net-zero 2050 carbon emissions guidelines have on the construction industry?

On the 27th June 2019, the UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.

When we look at net zero 2050 carbon emissions, we need to consider two factors into account.

  1. Embedded carbon (carbon emissions released during the manufacturing, transportation, and construction phases of a building before it goes into use)
  2. Energy performance of a building

The biggest concern is the environmental impact of construction, we all want to see a world where we can achieve a real reduction in carbon emissions and actually get to this government 2050 net-zero target.

Between 2030-2050 we will have to retrofit all remaining buildings, the idea to be ready for all buildings come out of the ground to be carbon-friendly – this needs to be front of mind.  The installation and standard of HVAC systems can have a detrimental effect on thermal efficiency within homes.

How do we ensure that pipe support insulation is at the forefront of the contractor’s minds?

  • Need early engagement with M & E contractors discussing the sustainability and insulation properties of pipe insulation, replying upon energy-efficient products such as phenolic blocks.
  • More projects are being carried out on an offsite fabrication basis. Anything we can do to encourage consistency of product between onsite and offsite applications should be beneficial to all parties.
  • Co-ordination between M&E Contractors and Thermal Contractors is important. Also, thermal insulation should be recognised as a specialist trade. The trade association for thermal contractors is TICA.
  • Value engineering needs to be implemented correctly – if a contractor is price sensitive then issues can come about with the choice of product and correct installation.
  • Ultimately communication helps manufacturers and distributors work together, early engagement with contractors – understanding their needs and what is driving them but also making sure the design parameters and specifications are adhered to. All parts of the process count.
  • Reflect on initial design parameters as it means we stand a chance of everybody living in a better building and effectively meeting the carbon energy zero targets by 2050.
  • BIM (Building-integrated management) if everybody knows who is manufacturing a product and it’s life span then we can all live in a zero-carbon building safely and efficiently.

MIDFIX supply a range of pipe support insulation blocks such as Kooltherm® Insulated Pipe Support Inserts. These can provide a continuous vapour barrier on below ambient systems and thermal analysis of +75°C LTHW system to BS EN IS0 10211:2007. Heat flows and surface temperatures. Detailed calculations has shown the Kooltherm® Insulated Pipe Support Inserts can limit heat loss up to 4x more than rubber lined pipe clips, 5x more than metal pipe clips and 10x more than hardwood pipe support inserts.

If we are to achieve the net-zero target by 2050 we need to promote the best possible practices. Installing a Kooltherm pipe support insert rather than a less efficient substitute could definitely be part of the solution for reducing energy losses on heating and hot water services

MIDFIX are experts in onsite and offsite supports for the mechanical and electrical industries, delivered through design, engineering, fabrication, and industry training. Discover how MIDFIX can help support your pipework with our wide range of products, available with next-day delivery.

Contact our experienced MIDFIX team today: 0115 922 1585 or sales@midfix.co.uk