Insulation Installation Checklist
an old saying: Measure twice, cut once. We all have “check” or “to do” lists to
help us remember what needs to be done. Many of us rely on our memory, but it
is usually a good idea to put the lists in writing so that when we are in a
hurry we do not forget anything. The checklists below were developed primarily
for below-ambient piping systems but would apply to any insulation application.
The items listed are in general terms, so there may be additional items to add
to tailor the list to your needs based on past experience.
three main functions that take place during an insulation installation: (1) job
layout or estimation, (2) actual installation, and (3) quality inspection of
the job once it is complete. The checklists below have been broken out for
these three functions. The responsible party for each function also is noted.
- Review all system
operating temperatures to be sure they are consistent with insulation use
temperatures. Consider any temperature cycling and/or yearly maintenance that
may affect system temperatures.
- Determine the desired
design conditions and the performance requirements of the insulation system.
For outdoor systems, be sure to take into account the site location, likely
weather conditions, and weather extremes when formulating the proper design
conditions. Based on this information, determine the appropriate insulation
thickness to be used.
- Based on the site
conditions and expected service conditions (UV exposure, exposure to chemicals,
mechanical abuse, etc.), select the proper jacketing/protective
covering/coating for the insulation. Note that many sites will have “standard
practices” or internal specifications that will call out insulation system
- Consider the
following when deciding on the insulation configuration/style.
installation – i.e., mechanical attachment, adhesive, clam-shell, slide-on or
Trade-off between labor
and cost of materials. Some insulation systems cost more out of the box but
install faster than cheaper systems. This saves labor and time during
Trade-off between labor
and insulation system performance: Factory-fabricated fittings may cost more in
materials but save labor and improve uniformity and performance.
Trade-off between up-front
material cost and maintenance costs down the road: Jacketed systems may cost
more than those with a mastic finish but usually require less maintenance during
the life of the insulation system.
Configuration and type of
equipment to be insulated. What is the geometry? Take into account the
fittings, valves, pumps, etc. How will these be insulated?
- Review the layout of
the system or item to be insulated to be sure there is sufficient room for the
insulation thickness specified without compressing the insulation or having the
insulation come in direct contact with the insulation on other pipes or pieces
of equipment. If not, can this be corrected? Check and see if there are
protrusions along the system. Are they long enough to accommodate the
recommended amount of insulation? If not, can they be extended or removed?
out the job in a manner to eliminate seams or minimize insulation joints as
much as possible. If multiple layers of insulation are required due to
thickness or other performance requirements, the insulation joints of
successive layers should be offset from the insulation joints of the previous
- When deciding on how
to achieve the desired insulation thickness, consider practical handling of the
insulation during installation (including the bending radius of the material)
as well as the ability to achieve full joint closure. In addition, consult the
insulation distributor or fabricator to verify the availability of different
insulation sizes and configurations in order to select the most cost-effective
way to achieve the desired thickness.
- Consider the required
time frame for completing the job. If the time frame is short, as is typical
for maintenance during a plant shutdown, you may want to consider using
insulation materials that are quicker and easier to install (e.g., self-seal or
factory-fabricated products) because of the time saved, even though the initial
cost of these materials may be higher.
- Consider the
availability of materials to be sure they can be delivered to the job in time.
- Consider the
availability of labor and the skill of the labor pool, as this may make a
difference in the choice of materials.
- Consider how
important aesthetics are for the job.
(Responsible Party: Foreman)
- Review work
orders/specifications for areas to be insulated and materials (thicknesses)
required. Lay out a plan/schedule for areas to insulate first, coordinating
with other trades that may be working in the area. Include your safety training
and any special safety equipment that may be needed for the job.
- Be sure all materials
(insulation, accessories?adhesives, tapes, jacketing, fittings, etc.?and tools)
are on site or are scheduled to be delivered at the appropriate time. Be sure
all materials are stored in a clean, dry room.
- Check materials
against what was specified (i.e., proper sizes and thicknesses). Organize
insulation according to size and thickness.
- Know job site
conditions, including where other trades are working, what the weather will be
over the period of the job, etc. Understand access to the working area. Because
of potentially damaging environmental conditions, insulation used on outdoor
applications nearly always requires protection (coating, jacketing, or
cladding) from mechanical abuse and UV resistance. Remember, it is also
important to protect the system from moisture intrusion during the installation
process. Good practice dictates that no more insulation be applied in a day
than can be properly sealed and protected from weather before leaving the site
at the end of the shift.
- Check equipment/tools
(lifts, etc.) to be sure everything is in place for what needs to be done.
manpower and review the experience of workers. Develop a manpower allocation
- Review the insulation
manufacturer’s recommended installation procedures. If there are any questions,
contact the manufacturer for recommendations.
- Check to be sure the
piping system or equipment is turned off and at ambient conditions. Make sure
it is clean and free of dirt or moisture.
- For most
applications, it is recommended to apply the fittings first (which may be
available for purchase pre-fabricated by a fabricator or the manufacturer, or
can be pre-fabricated at an off-site location). After the fittings are
installed, application can begin on the straight runs. The straight length
material is usually easier to install than fitting insulation, so the straight
run work will progress more quickly. Protrusions to the insulation system must
be properly insulated and sealed. For below-ambient systems, protrusions should
be insulated a distance of four times the insulation system thickness when
possible. Protrusion on above-ambient systems should be insulated a distance of
two times the insulation system thickness. For complex applications, contact
the manufacturer for recommendations.
workmanship as the materials are being installed. Notify appropriate personnel
if problems arise.
- At the end of each
day, be sure all materials are put away in a clean, dry area and that the
installed portion of the job has been appropriately sealed/closed in such a way
to prevent any damage from other trades or from the weather. Make sure all
scrap insulation material resulting from field fabrication is either (1) put
back in appropriate boxes to maintain size identification, or (2) appropriately
- On cold applications,
make sure that all seams are glued and sealed. Install vapor stops when needed
(for details, contact the insulation manufacturer).
- When the job is
finished, make a final inspection.
(Responsible Party: Engineer or Job Inspector)
a list of all areas that were specified to be insulated (including material
type and thickness). Obtain a data sheet and appropriate installation
instructions from the manufacturer for each material.
a preliminary inspection of the entire job. Make a list of any obvious issues
that may need to be replaced, repaired, or corrected. Be sure all areas that
were called out for insulation have been insulated. Also check for the overall
neatness of the job.
- Check that installed
materials comply with those specified (material type and size). Material type
and size (ID and thickness) generally can be found on the product box or on the
- Ensure that all seams
(longitudinal, butt joints, and terminations) have been sealed properly per
manufacturer recommendations. Check all fittings, valves, etc. to be sure the
insulation is sealed properly at any termination points.
- When checking
materials and insulation systems, be sure there are no tears, cuts, or damage
that would cause performance issues. If any are found, the damage must be
repaired or the section of insulation completely replaced. Also, make sure that
none of the insulation is wet and there is no moisture between the insulation
and the substrate.
- On straight runs,
make sure that seams are facing down to reduce weight/pressure on the seam.
- Inspect the
insulation finish (jacketing, coating, or mastic) for damage and defects. For
outdoor applications, it is generally recommended that all insulation materials
be protected from the elements and mechanical abuse by jacketing or coatings,
and that all jacketing laps should be positioned to shed water.
- On pipe and supported
equipment, review all hanger and support areas to be sure they were handled
according to manufacturer recommendations. The insulation should not be
compressed, as the thickness of the insulation should not be compromised. Also,
check all protrusions to ensure that they are properly insulated and sealed.
- If the system has
been turned on, look for any signs of condensation or ice formation.
these checklists, and adjusting them for personal use by adding or modifying
steps based on your experience, the job should meet the end user’s expectations
and come in either at or below budget. “Measure twice, cut once” pays off more
times than not in the long run. Taking short-cuts, particularly on an
application involving below-ambient operating temperatures, is a bad bet.