1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Cold basement, worrying

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ColdNH, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. ColdNH

    ColdNH Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    536
    Loc:
    Bow, NH
    We havent lived in this house through such a long stretch of cold weather. The previous owner had issues with pipes bursting above the basement garage, he installed heat trace alogn the pipes, but said he never had to use it since upgrading the garage doors and adding insulation everywhere.

    With that said, the basement is curretly 39.9 degrees (in the garage) and another day where it wont get out of the teens and -10 forecasted for tonight. At what point should i start to worry, would it make sense just to plug the heat trace in for peace of mind. the previous owner never had a wood stove and always had the boiler running for heat so that helped to keep the basement warmer.

    How cold does your basement get?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,587
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    It might be worth buying a line voltage thermostat and set it at 40 degrees so the trace runs automatically. Frequently the heating pipes are in or near the outside wall above the garage, even though the garage is above freezing, if the sill is missing insulation, the pipes may be getting exposed to temp lower than the garage. If you have a temp probe and are willing to drill a couple of holes in the garage celing near the exterior wall you can investigate.

    There is also self regulating heat tape available, its set up so that as the pipe gets colder the tracing puts out heat as the resistance of the tape changes with temp. Its a lot more relaible than a thermostat.
  3. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,512
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    Plug it in!! When temps get cold and HOLD that is when plumbers get busy. It is not a dip overnight and back to 25 during the day it is negative temps at night and highs in single digits and low teens. My brother works for the family plumbing business and I was speaking with him yesterday - they are non-stop busy with frozen pipes.

    I fired up the furnace yesterday just to warm the basement a touch. No success in saving money not paying the "gas" man when you turn around and pay it to a plumber - even if it's your brother!! Considering I spend a couple hundred bucks a year for gas between extream cold times and when the dog sitter stays here Vs. getting the propane pig filled 3 times it is a small price to pay.

    I am in mid-Michigan and the temps are the worst of the cold seems to be over(for now) 15 degrees at 6am today.
  4. blwncrewchief

    blwncrewchief Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    166
    Loc:
    Northern, IN
    I would be worrying anywhere between now and 5 degrees ago. Chances are if you are reading 39* that is not the coldest spot and your margin of error is down to about nothing by now. Plug in that heat tape. The cost to run it is not that much, especially compared to the thousands it may cost you if it freezes. Lets say it is 7 watt per foot cable and you have 50 feet of cable. That would be 350 watts which would be about 8 kwh per day. So at $.10 per kwh it would cost $.80 a day to run. I would be plugging it in anytime the basement drops to 45-50* and the outside temps are below 20-25*.
  5. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,512
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    I also have a couple plastic bottles with a little water sitting on the foundation ledge in my basement just to keep an eye on during the cold spells. If one is showing ice I will be running my heat a little more often!! So far no ice
    zap likes this.
  6. ColdNH

    ColdNH Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    536
    Loc:
    Bow, NH
    Ok, im convinced, Im going to have the wife turn it on. hopefully the other side of the basement stays warm as not all the pipe has heat trace
  7. Woodreb

    Woodreb New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2012
    Messages:
    21
    Loc:
    NW CT
    I agree. I'd plug it in.

    We had a problem with frozen pipes 20 yeas ago when we first bought our house. It's got a walk-out basement and that room can get pretty cold if we did nothing. We insulated the pipes in that area and it also happens to be where my husband's carving room is. So now, we run an electric baseboard heater in that area to keep it warm enough that we don't have to worry so much about the pipes freezing. He keeps it about 55-60 when he's down there working.
  8. NE WOOD BURNER

    NE WOOD BURNER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2012
    Messages:
    542
    Crack your faucets a bit and let the water drip.
    catch it and use it if you want to be green.
    Grisu and schlot like this.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,680
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Run the boiler a couple times once in the morning and once at night. That gallon or two of oil is going to be cheap insurance vs the mess, hassle, inconvenience and cost of frozen pipes.
    daveswoodhauler likes this.
  10. ColdNH

    ColdNH Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    536
    Loc:
    Bow, NH
    Yah we have been doing that, i actually just set all the thermostats to 64 (they were previously set to 58) and the house does get to around 60 when the stove is nearing the end of its burn stage. so if it kicks on a few times no biggie, that will keep the house warmer and shouldnt burn too much of the oil.
  11. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    1,847
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    I was thinking about this the other day....do they make a circulator that runs on a timer? (I guess I was thinking of perhaps a zone valve and circulator that can be programmed, just to flow the warm water from the boiler every once in a while without actually kicking on the boiler) Copper pipes hold the heat well, so it would be nice to have something to circulate the hot water from the boiler without it being fired up)
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    14,938
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Always subscribed to the philosophy of a penny wise, pound foolish . . . when the temps get this low I will run my oil boiler since a) it takes the edge off the cold throughout the whole house (normally the woodstove does well, but there are cold rooms when the outside temp is this extreme), b) it prevents pipes from freezing up and I would rather pay for a bit of oil than have to deal with the mess, aggravation and expense of having frozen pipes and a plumber if need be and c) I'm not in a contest with anyone to see who can get away with using the least amount of oil, propane, natural gas, etc . . .
    ailanthus likes this.

Share This Page