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How to Cut Heat Tape to Length

J.D. Richards

Wrapping your home's water pipes in heat tape is a small investment that can pay off big in problem prevention, keeping the pipes from freezing and potentially cracking. The tape hosts a circuit of wiring that, as long as it's plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter in the wall, keeps pipes warm via an electric current running through it. Heat tape is usually sold in precut increments, but you can further tailor the length of the tape.

In cold northern winters, unprotected water pipes can freeze and burst.

Step 1

Measure the length of the pipe you would like to heat with the tape. Add to this the distance from the pipe to the nearest wall outlet.

Step 2

Buy a length of heat tape that corresponds roughly to the combined length that you measured. Some types of heat tape run along the pipe; others wrap around it. Consult the manufacturer's guidelines to determine how much tape you will need.

Step 3

Cut the tape to the precise length. Cutting can be a delicate process. Often the tape consists of heating stripes grouped at intervals. To avoid a fire hazard, be sure not to cut through a heating stripe but rather through the space between groups.

Step 4

Seal any exposed bus bar with electrical tape. The bus bar is the conductive strip of metal running along either side of the tape.