Why Should You Insulate Outdoor Ducts and Pipes?

Installing HVAC ductwork and chilled pipes up on rooftops can provide valuable interior space however placing these systems outdoors creates challenges with system design. Temperature variation, sun exposure, increased humidity, rain, wind, mold, and even animal damage can impact system performance. However, insulating these exterior systems can help address these concerns. It is often recommended to also install a jacket, sometimes called cladding, on exterior insulation to protect it from outdoor hazards. However, these products tend to be labor intensive to install as they require cutting, riveting, clamping, painting, and caulking of seams. In fact, even after installation these jacketing products usually need routine maintenance checks for cracking, repainting, and seal maintenance. Engineers and designers can specify elastomeric insulation solutions that protect against moisture, condensation, efficiency loss, and exposure to UV and other outdoor elements.

Top Five Reasons to Insulate Outdoor Ducts and Pipes

  1. Thermal and energy efficiency of system
  2. Preventing condensation, moisture ingress, and corrosion under insulation
  3. Protection against UV degradation, solar radiation, and atmospheric contamination
  4. Protection against weather, the elements, temperature fluctuations, and animal damage
  5. Protection against organic contaminates that cause mold and mildew

What Happens If You Do Not Insulate Outdoor Ducts and Pipes?

Damage from the outdoors can cause system failures, process downtimes, safety hazards, energy waste, efficiency loss, costly repairs, and the replacing of the failed insulation sooner than anticipated. This is cause for concern so the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE standard 90.1 mandated standards for insulation protection, pipe insulation protection, and weatherproofing ducts. The IECC and ASHRAE standards make it clear that installing insulation on exterior systems like line sets, HVAC systems or refrigeration piping without protection is not in compliance.

Best Products To Insulate Outdoor Ducts and Pipes

Armacell ArmaTuff® and ArmaTuff SA is the one-step installation solution for thermal mechanical insulation and UV protection of exterior ducts, tanks, vessels, large pipes, and fittings. The combination of a tough metal cladding laminated to ArmaFlex® closed-cell foam insulation provides durable, low maintenance, year-round protection against weather, condensation, mold, and the outdoor elements. ArmaTuff is made with heavy-duty 17.5 mil embossed white laminate and is ideal for exterior applications where added protection is required without compromising aesthetics. ArmaTuff comes in pre-laminated sheets and rolls and is available with a self-adhesive backing sheet for even faster installation. Sealing joins and seams is easy when using ArmaTuff Tape, a specifically designed laminated cladding adhesive tape used to ensure a tight seal and quick install. Once ArmaTuff is properly installed, no further coating or maintenance is required.
ArmaFlex® Shield flexible foam insulation is moisture-resistant and UV-resistant with a durable protective jacket specially designed for line set, HVAC ,and refrigeration applications. ArmaFlex Shield’s tough coating can take the abuse of challenging installations and stands up to the effects of weather and extreme elements like UV rays, wind, rain, and extreme hot and cold temperatures, making it a great choice for outdoor applications. This low-maintenance alternative to unprotected insulation comes in coils for easy installation and also eliminates the need for adding a separate jacket or cladding.

Another option is for installers to apply two coats of our ArmaFlex WB Finish to non-jacketed, exterior insulation. This white, water-based, 100% acrylic coating provides a clean, durable, moisture-resistant protective finish and is engineered for weather resistance, UV and ozone protection, and cold weather flexibility to resist cracking. The water-based formulation allows it to dry without fumes and be cleaned up with soap and water. ArmaFlex WB Finish requires some routine maintenance as outdoor surfaces should be recoated every 2 to 4 years for best results.

No matter the application, Armacell has answers and has you covered.