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Alert to pellet burners.....watch for frozen pipes

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by imacman, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. TJC

    TJC New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    44
    Loc:
    Lancaster, NH
    This is the one thing I am concerned about since we are just getting into the pellet scene. We have hot water/baseboard. I know the boiler has anti freeze in it, just not sure what it is rated for. No pipes in crawl spaces etc. So no worry there. Outside walls are the only issue as I see it.
    We are puttling a stove in the basement as well as an insert upstairs so hopefully that will help prevent any problems.
    In addition, We have 4 different zones in the house. So my plan is to keep the ones furthest from the upstairs stove set at a temp that will cause the boiler to push heat if the temp in the room falls below a certain temp.

    Hoping we don't have any of the problems listed here. Looking forward to the pellet heat.

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  2. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
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    central ct
    As long as the room is heated, it shouldn't be a problem. Most of the problems come from the un heated rooms, or crawl spaces, or basements.
  3. Ricks

    Ricks Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    Western Maine
    Given how my builder added heat to the upstairs after the house was built (long story) I always had trouble with the pipes freezing when I used my pellet stove. Once I purchased and installed the Thermoguard I no longer worry about frozen pipes.

    While the builder did a lousy job plumbing for the heat upstairs at least he used PEX and I have not had to repair any damage.

    Rick.........
  4. bayfeet

    bayfeet Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Messages:
    45
    Loc:
    Central Mass
    I bought a Thermguard some years back now and could never get it to be compatible with my Taco Relay. Thermguard would work but the relay would make a continous buzzing sound, so I had to disconnect it. I have not turned on the heat, steam and forced hot water, so the cold snap has me a little concerned. Boiler runs to keep the indirect hot water storage at 120, and aquastat on boiler is set to 160 degrees. I bought a ton of McFeeters recently and they do not seem to be burning as hot as the Stovechow that I burned before. If anyone has a fix for the buzzing sound on the relay and Thermguard hookup I would appreciate hearing from you. Thanks
  5. kenstogie

    kenstogie Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2012
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    410
    Loc:
    Albany (ish)
    x3. with a raised ranch they are quite exposed to the heat coming up from the basement. I think I am safe.
  6. glenc0322

    glenc0322 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Messages:
    626
    Loc:
    long Island NY
    What does the Thermguard do? Does it just turn on the circulator pumps with out firing the boiler or does it cycle the boiler and the pumps for a few minutes. If it turns the boiler and the pumps on you can do the same thing with a programmable thermostat. when its really cold i program my thermostat to come on at 6 am and shut off at 610 and set the heat above 74 so it circulates the water. maybe not the best but the pipes wont freeze. I also live on long island so it does not get to cold for a long time so I only use the t stat when the temp drops in the single digits.
  7. moey

    moey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
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    Loc:
    Southern Maine
    Wow my basement does not go much below 50, in this weather it was about 48 on the fridge thermometer.
  8. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Did you contact forum member "bridgerman"? He is the rep for them on the forum, and should be able to help figure out your buzzing issue.
  9. imacman

    imacman Guest

    It is a timer that turns on the burner and circulates warm water for whatever length of time you want. You can set the amount of time between firings, and also how long it will run. I have mine set to come on every 2 1/2 hrs for 3 minutes. Only turn it on when outside temp gets below 25.
    glenc0322 likes this.
  10. Ricks

    Ricks Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    Western Maine
    The Thermoguard needs to "learn" your system. When I first installed mine I could not get it off the default program. But a week later I was have to alter the program to turn on every 3 hours for 3 minutes. I never did have any buzzing, the unit is hooked up above my furnace where the thermostat wires come down from the second floor.

    It was very easy to install and removed the worry about frozen pipes.

    Rick.......
  11. bbfarm

    bbfarm Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    528
    Loc:
    wisconsin
    I will have to put a thermometer in our basement and see how cold it is. No frozen pipes in the basement yet. no heat or heat tape on them. we have those big old thick stone walls.
  12. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Weird....I never had any issue. Ran from the moment I installed it.....programmed it right away.
  13. small_e_900

    small_e_900 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Mudpuddle Maine
    No frozen pipes and no worries.
    Thank You Therm Guard.

    I have a four-zone hot water baseboard system plumbed to a 250K BTU oil fired boiler.

    One zone is a couple upstairs bedrooms that are not used. The thermostat is turned down to 40.
    With a high temperature of 9 today, it was never below 50 upstairs.
    No frozen pipe worries.

    One zone is in the center of the house and all the pipes are reasonable close to the boiler.
    The wood stove is in this zone, but isn't used during the day.
    When I came home this afternoon, it was 64 degrees in this zone.
    The pellet stove helps heat this zone when we're not using the woodstove.
    I haven't even turned the thermostat on in this zone this year.

    The two other zones, the ones that are over crawl spaces are the ones that worried me, this, our first year of pellet stove use.

    The zone with our bedroom is set to have heat for three hours in the morning when we get ready to start our day and for three hours in the evening, around bed time.
    The rest of the time, the temperature is set to 52 degrees, 13 degrees below the high setting of 65.
    On this zome, I have a ThermGuard set to circulate the boiler water through the baseboard registers for three minutes, every two hours.
    My primary concern in this zone is a large walk-in closet and Laundry room (12 X18) that will get down near 40 degrees if we keep the doors closed. That's a little too close to freezing temperature for me.
    The Therm Guard has eliminated any worries that I have about freeze-ups .

    The fourth zone is a large kitchen and family room, about 700 sq. ft. with 12 foot ceilings.
    This zone has 140 sq.ft. of single pane glazing, and three exterior doors.
    Using oil heat alone, this space would not get above 62 degrees for two months of the winter.
    I used one, and sometimes two, 26k Btu kerosene heaters as a suppliment to the oil, in order to maintain 65 degrees.
    Now, with the pellet stove in this zone, I don't think this zone ever called for heat until yesterday's seriously cold temperature. In fact, I never even had the thermostat turned on to this zone until I installed the Therm Guard a couple weeks ago.

    For the first time ever, I'm looking forward to an oil delivery.
    This time of year, we should get an oil delivery of 390 gallons, every 5 weeks or so.
    Tomorrow, it will be seven weeks since they delivered and in that time, we should have used about 550 gallons.
    A quick check of the tanks shows that we have used about 150 gallons.
    400 less gallons of oil!!

    The savings in oil have already paid for the pellet stove and I've spent less for a year's worth of pellets than I would have spent on kerosene.

    I was worried about frozen pipes. and it's likely that I would have had some if not for the Therm Guards.
    The installation was literally minutes, and the peace of mind their installation has created has certainly helped make switching to pellet heat a very positive experience.
  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    5,935
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    I just went downstairs and measured the wall temps with an IR gun. Most of the walls are insulated, but a small amount I couldn't readily get to. The insulated walls, and the uninsulated walls that are pretty much underground, as well as the basement generally, were 40 F. The uninsulated walls above grade were 14 F, with some shiny ice crystals. There are some dhw pipes attached, but there's a standoff of about an inch and the pipes are insulated so they should be alright.

    I remember when I reinsulated the rim joist space with board foam in place of fiberglass, that there was ice, a fair amount, on the sill plate. The insulation the rim joist should help prevent pipes in the area from getting too cold as well. There is no heat source down in the basement (I'm using an electric water heater and the oil heat has been off, so far).
  15. imacman

    imacman Guest

    ThermGuard my friend.
  16. small_e_900

    small_e_900 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Loc:
    Mudpuddle Maine
    What he said.
  17. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Install the Enviro you have forgotten about ;)

    No worries :cool:
  18. Hdhogger

    Hdhogger Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    169
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    OMV, It sounds like your attic is vented properly. Should be the same temp as the outdoor temp. I cycle some hot water through the 2nd level baseboard before hitting the sack. Haven't had a problem down to 10 below in the past.
  19. farmboy57

    farmboy57 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
    38
    Loc:
    central ny
    even when i used oil i have 1 place in my house that freezes,but i know were it is and can get to it with the hair dryer
  20. glenc0322

    glenc0322 Minister of Fire

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    626
    Loc:
    long Island NY
    Heat trace the pipe and add a switch to turn on the heat trace so it is only on during the really cold days
  21. boo boo

    boo boo Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    Messages:
    296
    Loc:
    So. NH
    Wanted to thank you for this post. I was not thinking of the basement pipes. I knew the pipes in the main living area would be ok because each room is being heated well but when I went down to get some readings for my lines going up for my baseboards I found the rim joists were like an open window. One corner with two lines going up to both floors were reading 17 and most of the rim joist readings were 27 with most of my baseboard lines sitting on the rim joist sill and foundation. The center of the ceiling was 48. I went and got some insulation and packed the joists last night blocking the stream of cold air to the lines and getting readings of 45 when I was done. First full winter in this house and first pellet stove Thanks again
  22. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    How do does work exactly, do they turn on the furnace regardless of how the thermostat is set to?
  23. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    Central ME
    Or get the pipes out unconditioned space (attic).
  24. mepellet

    mepellet Minister of Fire

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    That would make it a little more difficult now wouldn't it.;)
  25. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2009
    Messages:
    285
    Loc:
    Lewis County, New York (upstate)
    When I got home last night I was eventually able to thaw my pipes and get the boiler to circulate hot water. Fortunately there's no ruptures or leaks anywhere in my loop (it has one zone). However, I now have a very slow leak where my fresh water supply feeds the boiler. The problem I believe is that the line coming in to the boiler is initially CPVC and then meets copper piping about 2 ft before the line goes into the front of the boiler. The CPVC end is a threaded male end that goes into a female copper fitting. The slow leak appears to be right down in the threading. I've been told by my plumber that these kind of connections can sometimes leak over time as joining CPVC to copper doesn't lend itself to the best of seals. I'm not sure how true this is, but in lieu of changing this connection now, for the time being I'm hoping a bit of the silicone sealer stuff in the purple tube will seal up the very slow leak until I can somehow replace this in the spring. I believe you can now buy compression fittings that work much better between two different materials and are more effective at preventing leaks. I'd do it now but I'm a bit fearful of having to drain the boiler, repair the leak, and then refill everything and add anti-freeze to a system I just had tuned up and anti-freeze added to four months ago. This very slow leak doesn't seem to hinder the performance of the boiler in any way. Any thoughts on this idea?
    briansol likes this.

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