Replacing Air Conditioner Pipe Insulation

What is Pipe Insulation, and What Is It Used For?

  • Pipe insulation is used to insulate pipes and provide a thermal barrier. It helps keep the refrigerant temperature in the pipes relatively stable, reducing heat loss or gain when needed. Regarding air conditioner pipe insulation, its purpose is to prevent heat transfer via thermal conductivity, hence your ac unit can become less efficient if the insulation has deteriorated. Insulation on the suction line also reduces condensation and water dripping onto your ceiling etc.
  • There are several types of pipe insulation available. The most common type used is closed cell foam insulation. The foam tube is placed over the relevant ac line. Correct sizing is important to ensure the foam tube fits the refrigerant lines to ensure a tigh fit on the two copper lines. Wall thickness is also important to have the correct thermal protection.

Reasons Why You Might Need to Replace Your Air Conditioner Pipe Insulation

Replacing air conditioner pipe insulation is not common. If installed and protected during the initial ac unit installation, the insulation last should many years.

Age-Related Wear & Tear 

Insulation can suffer from wear and tear as time passes. If the insulation does start to show signs of wear and tear, then repair or replacement is the best option to avoid any problems and also maintain the energy efficiency of your air conditioner.

Deterioration Due to Weather

Weather can play a huge role in the deterioration of your insulation. As the insulation is not UV rated, then a protection cover is required over all pipe insulation that is exposed to sunlight to avoid sun damage.

Damage Caused by Installing Poor Quality Insulation 

Poor quality insulation can certainly cause some headaches after installing your air conditioner. If the insulation is not a tight fit on the refrigerant lines then the lines can seat inside the insulation. Also, if the wall of the pipe insulation is too thin, then heat will pass through into the pipes. This will reduce the efficiency of the ac unit. If the insulation is not the correct size on the suction pipe, this could begin to sweat create water problems in the ceiling space.

Insufficient Insulation

The refrigerant pipe insulation must be installed the entire length of the copper pipes. This is from the service valves at the condenser end through to the evaporator (indoor) unit.

Steps for How to Replace Air Conditioner Pipe Insulation

There are a few steps to replacing air conditioner pipe insulation. This should only be carried out by your air conditioning service technician.

Let's take a look at how the replacment of your air conditioner pipe insulation is done:

Removal of the Old Insulation

The existing insulation can be removed using a utility knife or some other means of cutting the insulation

The removed insulation must be disposed of correctly

Correct Type of Insulation 

The correct size and type of insulation is necessary to ensure the correct thermal qualities.

Fitting of the new insulation

  • The ac unit will need to be "pumped down"and the pipes disconnected.
  • The new foam pipe insulation should slide over the copper pipe with a tight fit.
  • Ensure the correct insulation is on the correct ac line.

Secure the New Pieces in Place With Adhesive or Tape  

  • The insulation ends should be glued together.
  • The usual method for this is using sticky adhesive
  • This is applied to each end and the sticky edges pushed together and held firmly for a short time as they bind
  • A few winds with tape around the insulation ends will complete the seal.


Once the new insulation is fitted, cover all the pipes that are exposed to the weather and your new pipe insulation should last for many years.

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