When we gut-renovated the bathroom, one of the first things we demo’d was some ugly crumbling insulation covering the heat pipe. The previous owners had small children, so that insulation was a necessary safety measure. But I was sure that I could find something nicer looking, fit to be seen outside of the walls.
A whole year went by before I got around to it, though. And in the interim, both Ross and I have scalded ourselves while drying off after a shower. So this year, covering this pipe was top on my list of things to do before cold weather hit and the heat was turned on in our building.
With this weekend turning unseasonably cold for early fall – no time like the present to check this project off my list.
If you are interested in covering an exposed heat pipe with rope, here’s what you will need:
- 150 feet of 1/4″ rope (will cover about 5 feet of pipe)
- Scissors or knife
- An assistant (possibly not required, but helped a lot)
|The rope arrived coiled in a box|
|Unwind the rope completely, and coil it into a much larger thinner loop|
Step 1: I started by taking about 4 inches of the end of the rope and holding it in place up the side of the pipe.
Then I wound a few rounds of coil on top of that, effectively locking the rope upon itself.
Step 2: While I held this in place, Ross started looping the rope around the pipe. After a few rounds of pulling the whole 150 feet of rope around and through, around and through, around and through the back of the pipe – like trying to sew with the world’s longest piece of thread – I realized that if we uncoiled it, then recoiled it in a larger loop, the whole coil would be thin enough to pass between the wall and pipe at once. This made the “winding” up the pipe move much faster!
It really helped to have a partner working with me on this project. As Ross passed the rope through and around, I kept tightening it and smoothing it.
|Coiled in a big loop like you would a hose, the whole length was thin enough to pass behind the pipe|
Step 3: When we started approaching the end of the line, I let the loops be looser and looser so that I could tuck the end of the rope through, then Ross tightened the loose coils up by sliding them all counterclockwise.
Step 4: Cut off the leftover rope if you want to. I chose to leave a bit of rope hanging out the back, in case we need to adjust the tightness once the heat comes on.
|Manila rope is very rough and fibrous|
Tip 1: 150 feet of rope was just enough to cover about 4-1/2 feet of pipe – high enough to protect any body parts that could get scalded coming into contact with the pipe when getting out of a shower. If you prefer the look of the rope going all the way up to the ceiling, you will need to order about 100 additional feet if you have standard 8-12 ft. high ceilings.
Tip 2: The rope is treated with a preservative chemical at the manufacturing source – Sea Gear warns about this in the product description on their website. To off-gas, we worked with the window wide open and left it open a full 24 hours with the door to the room closed.
Tip 3: The rope was unexpectedly messy. When we finished, I swept a whole pile of rope fibers.
Tip 4: If I had this to do again, I would wear jeans, safety glasses, and canvas work gloves. The stiff fibers that fall off the rope float through the air and get in your eyes. And I did get a splinter in my fingers from “smoothing” the coils up the pipe.
We like it so much that we covered another in the kitchen right after our kitchen renovation. For that we used sisal rope, which is slightly more expensive but doesn’t have the odor of marine-grade manila rope, which requires some off-gassing time to pass before the smell, slightly oily, fades.