Preventing A Plumbing Disaster By Keeping Mice Away From Pipe Insulation

If you live in an area that is exposed to extremely cold temperatures in the winter, then you have likely placed insulation around your water pipes to keep them from freezing. The most commonly used insulation is made of polyethylene materials. Unfortunately, mice like to chew on soft materials like pipe insulation to keep their teeth sharp. This can leave your pipes exposed and they can eventually freeze and burst. You can keep this plumbing disaster from occurring by keeping the mice away from the insulating materials.

Cover Your Insulation

Mice will chew on wood, plastic, fabric, and all types of other soft materials that are contained in your home. Mice will not chew on metal though, because they do not like to gnaw on things that are harder than their teeth. You can use this to your advantage by using metal materials to cover your pipe insulation. One of the easiest materials to use is foil tape. Foil tape comes in copper, aluminum, and lead varieties, and the copper and aluminum products are both good options to cover your polyethylene insulation.

Use Foil Tape

You can purchase foil tape at your local home store; this tape will self-adhere with a rubber adhesive placed on the back. This material is quite sticky though, so make sure you are careful during placement so you do not rip or tear your insulation during installation.  

Secure two or three inches of the tape at one time to prevent mistakes. Remove a small amount of the paper backing and secure it over the end of your insulation. Wrap the tape around the material and remove the paper backing as you go. Make sure to overlap the tape a small amount as you move to ensure complete coverage. Use scissors or a utility knife to cut the end of the tape once you are done.

Apply Tin Foil

Foil tape may be too expensive for your budget, so consider using tin foil instead to cover your pipe insulation. Just make sure to inspect the tinfoil every few months to make sure that tears do not form in the material. You should secure the tin foil with either copper or aluminum foil tape, or you can use rubber cement to stick the foil in place.  

Rubber cement can adhere almost any materials together due to the elastic polymers that are contained in the glue. Spread a thick layer of the cement on top of your pipe insulation and allow the material to dry for several minutes until it feels tacky. At this time, cut large pieces of tin foil and press them over the glue. Place several layers of the glue and the tin foil to make sure that seams are covered.

Make the Insulation Smell Bad

Another easy way to keep mice away from your insulation is to make sure that the insulation emits an odor that mice do not like. One thing that can easily repel a mouse is the smell of ammonia. Mice respond to the smell of predator urine by running away and finding a new place to live. Receptors in the mouse's brain are responsible for this natural response. Ammonia is one of the main components in urine, and you can use the fluid to trick the mouse into thinking that a predator is nearby.

Using Ammonia

You can purchase ammonia at your local grocery store. Ammonia is not considered highly flammable, so you can safely place the material on top of both your hot and cold water pipes. Pour a small amount of ammonia onto several clean rags and place one rag over the top of each of your insulated water pipes. Use a string to secure each rag in place. Pour two or three teaspoons of ammonia on each rag every two or three weeks to make sure that the ammonia odor remains strong.

A major indoor plumbing issue can occur if your polyethylene pipe insulation becomes damaged. Mice can easily chew through this material, and you should make sure that these rodents cannot gnaw a hole through the protective coverings.