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norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI

Boiler heating pipes and extended power outage.

I live in an old cottage with additions that were added in the past. The boiler room is on one side (no basement) and the electric service is on the complete opposite side of the cottage. The boiler is gas fired forced hot water through baseboards. You need power to fire the gas and pump the hot water through the base boards. Problem: in the event of an extended power outage i am concerned heating pipes would freeze in unheated rooms. Should i drain the boiler (shut it off at switch) and refill it after the power returns . Other problem is some water may be trapped and freeze in low sections of pipe like where it drops through the crawl space under the cottage. What is the best thing i can do for this ? so far in 15 years here the power only went out for 4 hours dead of winter when car hit a pole but the freak weather has me concerned . The main object is save the heating pipes the other plumbing are near gas stove and water can be left trickleing to prevent regular pipes from freezing.


ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA
Is this a get away location or where you live year round?

The question above will determine what is proposed.


norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI
said by ropeguru:

Is this a get away location or where you live year round?

The question above will determine what is proposed.

year round . A few rooms can be heated by the gas stove / portable propane heater(s). Some rooms would be closed off .


ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA
You mentioned a gas stove, is that propane or natural. Personally, with the small current draw of the boiler and circulator pump, I would get a generator that can handle the load to run just the heat and maybe a few lights.

I would be very leery of using a gas stove or propane heaters in an enclosed space such as a house for primary heat. Too much of a chance for carbon monoxide poisoning if something goes wrong, not to mention fire.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to norbert26
said by norbert26:

year round . A few rooms can be heated by the gas stove / portable propane heater(s). Some rooms would be closed off .

Well, I googled a bit and there aren't real solutions to your problem, only PREVENTION tricks for short power outages, or just general usage.

However when I googled about draining those systems, it seems to be a yearly maintenance thing, so I guess doing that would prevent the pipes to freeze.

Next time, get a generator to hook up to your panel and you'll have a lot more comfort


norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI
reply to norbert26
The issue with a genny is the electric service comes in on one side and boiler is way on the other side. Other issue is getting gas for the genny when it may not even be possible to get cars out (think blizzard). As far the propane heater and NG stove i would crack the window and make sure some air can get in . This is only for last resort emergency heat and OFF when sleeping and bundle up. Only use with supervision . It seems best i can do is drain boiler and hope for the best . Hope i don't have to resort to these last resorts.
Edit to add:
even if the boiler could be wired to a plug and plugged into a genny there is no way to get the genny back here. do not have a truck only two small cars.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3


Why does it matter where the electric comes in? It must already be fed to the boiler room now, or it wouldn't operate. Unless I'm missing something, there shouldn't be a problem where anything is located.


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:6
Best way to completely combat that, would be to refill the system with a 40% solution of propylene glycol, which would not freeze until -8F. You may have to upsize the pump, as glycol takes more head pressure to pump.. Glycol has a 10-20 year life, so you wouldnt have to worry bout changing it often.

You can run the boiler off a generator, no problem. Even if it isnt close, a 100ft extension cord would probably work. The boiler only draws a max of 5-6amps

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)

Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
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reply to norbert26
My brother in law installed a direct vent propane gas heater in his cottage in New Hampshire, that does not require electricity to operate. He uses electric baseboard heat to take the chill off each room in the summer. The gas heater is installed in the basement and the heat rises up through the stairway to the rest of the cottage. He must make sure that the doors to all rooms are open. Since his summer home is about 50 Miles from the cottage, he had a home security company install an automatic dialer that contacts a local service company if the temperature drops below a certain level. They have a key to the cottage and come out and fix the problem.


norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI
reply to tp0d
said by tp0d:

Best way to completely combat that, would be to refill the system with a 40% solution of propylene glycol, which would not freeze until -8F. You may have to upsize the pump, as glycol takes more head pressure to pump.. Glycol has a 10-20 year life, so you wouldnt have to worry bout changing it often.

You can run the boiler off a generator, no problem. Even if it isnt close, a 100ft extension cord would probably work. The boiler only draws a max of 5-6amps

-j

i will explore the option of the anti-freeze you described however the pump is built into the boiler so i am not sure a bigger one can go in unless an external one is added . As far as the genny several threads indicate an outlet can be wired to the boiler power supply and the boiler put on a plug so it could be plugged into a small genny. The genny would need to be delivered (a small one). Due to the pump size may need increasing the genny may be the easier option on the two. The genny could be stored right in the corner of the boiler room when not being used as well.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to norbert26
»www.homedepot.com/buy/reliance-c···151.html

This may help with re-wiring the boiler, to make it easy to connect a gennie... It's a single-circuit transfer switch; you'd just wire it in to the power feed for your boiler... 15 minutes to drag out the generator and extension cord, and you're back in the cozy warmth of hot-water-heat...

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
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reply to norbert26
Not a solution, but something to consider...

A friend of mine has a place in VT, they use it all year, but don't live there... they had a particularly windy/cold storm (we're talking -10*F without windchill) which froze the oil line from his tank to furnace (located in an enclosed crawl space / dirt basement). Result was cracked block in the boiler (ruined), all the heating pipes in the house split (domestic water was all OK because he drains it).

He had to file an insurance claim and converted the place to forced air, he's got a lot of boxed in spots for ducts to the second floor, and it certainly wasn't completely covered by the insurance pay out, but at least he sleeps easier now.


norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI
said by bemis:

Not a solution, but something to consider...

A friend of mine has a place in VT, they use it all year, but don't live there... they had a particularly windy/cold storm (we're talking -10*F without windchill) which froze the oil line from his tank to furnace (located in an enclosed crawl space / dirt basement). Result was cracked block in the boiler (ruined), all the heating pipes in the house split (domestic water was all OK because he drains it).

He had to file an insurance claim and converted the place to forced air, he's got a lot of boxed in spots for ducts to the second floor, and it certainly wasn't completely covered by the insurance pay out, but at least he sleeps easier now.

its a good thought with this option the ducts could be run under the crawl way and would not be hard to install registers in the floor of each room. This would be good to consider if boiler needs replacing some day but for now the genny seems best and would run a few lights too.


PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD
Froze the oil line? Why was there water in it?


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
said by PSWired:

Froze the oil line? Why was there water in it?

Fuel oil and diesel start to gel about about 32F - if there's not enough winter additivies, it basically stops flowing around 16F... That's why there's specific "summer" and "winter" fuel blends.


tschmidt
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
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reply to PSWired
said by PSWired:

Froze the oil line? Why was there water in it?

Good question. Before we built our house we moved a mobile home to the property. The furnace was designed for kerosene. When I had the fuel tank installed I asked: Why kerosene not regular fuel oil.

The answer was simple: "What happens to oil in cold weather?"

/tom

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
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reply to LazMan
said by LazMan:

said by PSWired:

Froze the oil line? Why was there water in it?

Fuel oil and diesel start to gel about about 32F - if there's not enough winter additivies, it basically stops flowing around 16F... That's why there's specific "summer" and "winter" fuel blends.

LazMan has it--it didn't freeze, poor choice of words, it "congealed".


PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD
Gotcha. We have a bunch of above-ground outdoor heating oil tanks around here in MD, I guess it just doesn't get cold enough here for them to gel up. Outdoor diesel tanks for standby generators are popular too.

bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast
A friend of mine here in MA has an outdoor tank--it looks like a stainless steel port-a-potty--and he mentioned it has some sort of a heating element that kicks in at temps below 40*F (said because he was complaining about the costs to convert from his 1950's below ground tank, "and to top it off I needed an electrician to add a circuit for the heating element")


cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
reply to norbert26
The solution is to have power for the boiler. My oil-fired boiler only draws some 180W. Even a small cheap generator will do - and as a bonus you'll have lights, refrigerator, will be able to take a hot shower...


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
reply to PSWired
said by PSWired:

Gotcha. We have a bunch of above-ground outdoor heating oil tanks around here in MD, I guess it just doesn't get cold enough here for them to gel up. Outdoor diesel tanks for standby generators are popular too.

With proper additives and blending, diesel and fuel oil can be flowable to about -40... But it's all about the right mix.

Winter and Arctic diesel remain flowable at very low temperatures, but can be too thin for normal operation at higher temps... Summer fuels get too thick at lower temps.

I've got about a half-million litres of diesel and fuel oil stored at various sites; mostly in above-ground tanks - it's a bit of a dance to keep the blends right for the time of year.


Chinabound
Premium
join:2002-12-21
Antioch, IL
kudos:3
reply to norbert26
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Not knowing what kind of environment (neighborhood) you live in, is a wood burner a possibility?
I installed one down in the basement which will be used in the event of an extended outage during the winter season. About seven winters ago in our last house, we lost power for more than 40 hours during a strong snowstorm. In these parts, a strong storm is typically followed by a very windy cold snap that cuts through you like a razor blade. Shortly after that storm, I installed my grandparent's decades old Ashley wood burner in the basement. My wife and daughter (a toddler at the time) were miserable, and I wasn't going to let something like that happen again. I won't live without one ready to go anymore.
They make many convenient styles these days (very suitable for a cottage), and for not a lot of money.

As for your pipes down in the crawlspace - you can come up with something to keep them above freezing.
To solve a problem with an outdoor spigot that froze outside our walk-out basement, I merely opened the finished wall behind the spigot, sealed and insulated the area around the pipe, and placed a grill there. This allows warmer air of the basement to reach the pipe, and no cold air is getting in. It won't freeze again.

Yes, I cleaned the cob webs.


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
Also check with your insurance company. Wood burning stoves are something they really dislike. You need to report you have one or want to get one and see what they have to say. A home just west of here had one in an attached garage. It caused a fire that burnt part of the garage, and insurance was denied. That was with State Farm.


Chinabound
Premium
join:2002-12-21
Antioch, IL
kudos:3
I see you're turning into one of these nannies around here, too.

A properly installed wood burner isn't any more dangerous than any other form of heating. In an emergency (such as an extended power outage during an arctic cold snap), I've got an endless supply of wood around here to keep my house safe, and my family warm.

I haven't had to fire it up yet, and I may never have to, but it's there if we need it.


LazMan
Premium
join:2003-03-26
canada
You're absolutely right - properly installed and maintained, wood burning appliances can be very safe... But if yours wasn't inspected and approved regularly by a WETT certified tech, and if your insurance isn't notified; you will be up shit creek if anything ever happened.

That ain't 'nanny' stuff; that's just a fact.


Chinabound
Premium
join:2002-12-21
Antioch, IL
kudos:3
Thank you, but I've been around long enough to know how things work. I abide by all of my insurance regulations, right down to having our trampoline enclosed within our fence.

I gave the OP an idea to consider. Nothing more.


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
reply to Chinabound
Why would you assume I am a nanny because I point out an insurance issue? I love wood stoves. But many insurance companies do not. It is financially irresponsible to not check with your insurance company concerning it. I pointed out something I have witnessed and something that is well known in my field of work. Nothing more. I wasn't saying you or your stove isn't safe.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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reply to LazMan
said by LazMan:

You're absolutely right - properly installed and maintained, wood burning appliances can be very safe... But if yours wasn't inspected and approved regularly by a WETT certified tech, and if your insurance isn't notified; you will be up shit creek if anything ever happened.

That ain't 'nanny' stuff; that's just a fact.

You have to be kidding? Inspected by a "Certified WETT Tech"? Canada must be regulated way more than we are here.

If that were the case all these fires caused by improper burning of candles would give the insurance companies an out. Not so. A wood burning appliance is much safer than say a fireplace.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
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reply to Lurch77
said by Lurch77:

Why would you assume I am a nanny because I point out an insurance issue? I love wood stoves. But many insurance companies do not. It is financially irresponsible to not check with your insurance company concerning it. I pointed out something I have witnessed and something that is well known in my field of work. Nothing more. I wasn't saying you or your stove isn't safe.

You state that many insurance companies do not like wood burning appliances. Which ones? How many have refused to pay a claim regarding a wood burning appliance? How many were challenged? What was the outcomes?

If you have witnessed this in your field of work you should have data you can post for the rest of us to consider as many of us here use wood either in a fireplace or wood burning appliance.


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
Listen, don't get stupid. I offered advice about checking with insurance. I wasn't telling people what to do. Ultimately I don't give a shit what you do. It's common knowledge in the HVAC industry. I'm not going to sit here and find specific details for you. If you want them, go get them. Do a web search for wood stoves and insurance to start you out. If I'd known you people were going to get so stupid over a bit of advice I'd have kept it to myself.