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Heating system question

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], Oct 10, 2013.

  1. Guest

    If there are any guys out there familiar with temperature monitoring and/ or heating systems perhaps you can help me. My kids bought a historic 250 year old house that they run their business out of. There is forced hot waterheat throughout the house however except for the what seems like miles ofcopper heating system pipes that run through it, the dirt floor basement is unheated. During the Winter months the unheated basement usually remains above freezing because of the boiler and all the heating pipes down there that run through the cellar.

    They've made numerous repairs and upgrades to the house but as could be expected it's still a drafty old building and difficult to heat. The first floor can usually be made "comfortable" (if you keep moving) but heating it isan effort and one which is reflected by their oil bill.

    This Winter in efforts to save on oil they're going to install a pellet stove on the first floor. This they hope will seriously decrease the running time on the boiler and hopefully save on fuel. It does however pose another problem though. With the duty cycle on the boiler decreased now the basement will be able to get colder. And in the event of a real cold snap we couldexperience frozen pipes.

    My son absolutely does not want to add a basement zone to the heating system so he came up with this other idea:

    With this device you can set your points and get a relay closure at whatever low (or high) temperature you want. He figures to set it at about 35 degrees. He then plans to parallel that relay closure with the thermostat connections for zone1 (first floor) on the heating system. He feels that in thisway although this will kick the boiler on and he'll be heating the first floor upstairs due to the increased circulation in the basement this will keep the basement from freezing if the temperature dips unusually low.

    Another thing that would be really helpful would be the ability t remotely monitor the basement temperature perhaps over the internet. So a device that would both trip the boiler on while at the same time remotely annunciate the temperature would be ideal. Does anything like this exist, and if so isit affordable? Thanks for any opinions on this. Lenny
  2. Guest

    Unless it's a very shallow basement he may not have any problems. Once youare down more than ~3 feet, the ground never freezes and always stays ~50 F (~10 C)
    So most of the basement is in contact with ~50 F ground.

    George H.
  3. gregz

    gregz Guest

    Basements that are underground might not freeze. My basement floor usually
    does not go below 50 degrees in the winter, here in Pittsburgh. The floor
    adds heat, even if it's zero outside. A basement with above ground walls
    will get colder.monitoring sounds fine.

  4. Guest

    Contrary to popular belief, the depth of the basement doesn't really matter.. What matters is outside air getting in. Being below the frost line doesn't help much if you are blowing twenty below zero degree air in there.

    This must be making the floor of the first quite cold, unless that has beenhighly insulated. Regardless, without including it in the automatically heated zone, your surefire choices are limited. You simply cannot have it go too cold down there and alarms are of no use unless someone can respond. Soforget the internet.

    Assuming the floor is well enough insulated to not include the basement in the coverage, which is the stated problem, why are you bothering to heat the air down there ? In fact you could use it as a deep freeze. Go deer hunting, get the shit gutted and decide what to do with it in the spring !

    Heat the pipes. there are those tape things that go around pipes, they run off of electicity. (they DO have electricity right ?) At that point you canrun them thermostatically to save money, say let them kick on when the airtemp down ther hits 35, and as slow acting as they are, they should be fast enough to keep the pipes from freezing. Remember water will not freeze atexactly 32, it needs to be just a bit colder. You give those three degreesand it should be fine. Then, instead of heating all that air, you are onlyheating what is needed. (last I heard, electricity was cheaper than oil for smaller jobs, but cannot say for sure where you are)

    This :


    claims to be self regulating but I wouldn't go for that. Just get the stuffthat really works and use it off its own thermostat. That's a go/nogo, rather than a throttled response. That is what you need. The throttled response of the self regulating wire may be desirable for some, but 32 degrees is a go/nogo so to save the maximum amount of energy, go with that. That's my recommendation. Once it hits 35 down there let it shut off.

    In fact you might get away with setting it lower, remember it is DIRECTLY heating the pipes. The drawback is it is harder to install.

    Even harder would be running tubing off the main system alongside the pipesthat will automatically work in tandem with the main heating system without heating the air down there, which is the bitch, right ?

    If you have no other choice but to heat the air down there, use whatever instead of running off the main heat. Unless electric is ridiculous there youcan use that for the times it will run, it shouldn't cost too much. This would be the cheapest way. Setup an electric heater, FORCED air and try to get the place less drafty. Direct it where you need it rather than dependingon radiation or convection, BLOW IT. Put the thermostat in the right place, pretty much at the farthest away pipes and closest to the drafts.

    A layout would really help, and knowing just how much of this pipe you can get to. (justiified dangling participle there I think) Really, you do not have to heat the entire pipe if it's copper. If it's PVC that's different. These things matter.

    K.I.S.S. Especially in things like this. And if you can gt to the pipes andthose are all you need to heat - it's obvious.
  5. Guest

    Actually, all of that wire is self regulating. It acts as a PTC thermister. They tell you to use certain lengths, but to use a thermostat with it use shorter than they say to get a faster response time.

    Don't get ridiculous, you don't have to. All you want is for the thing to shut COMPLETELY off as soon as the air is not freezing anymore. Youo don't care that the pipes are cold anymore. That is the edge of using the thermostat.
  6. mickgeyver

    mickgeyver Guest


    Is it possible to box in the pipes and insulate it making a smaller space to keep warm? There is also glycol or some sort of anti-freeze that could beadded to the system. Amount depends on overall capacity of the system and desired low temp point. Should be able to get that at your local home improvement place.

  7. Guest

    There are so many pipes to address. the entire basement is involved. I don't think so. Lenny
  8. Guest

    If it's alot of pipes, then I would go with a separate forced air unit down there with its own thermostat set to keep it at about 35. Use a couple of fans to keep it circulated.

    I know it sounds wrong to use fans in the winter, but in this case they serve a purpose.
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