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Crawl space heat?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by eclecticcottage, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    In our Old House, we heat with two DV stoves. It sits on pillars and has a crawl space (with about 3-4' space) and a dirt "floor". It is now a rental since we bought the Cottage. While we lived there, we used to leave the hot water running just a bit during the winter to keep the pipes from freezing. Actually, when we bought it, it had a gravity heater in the floor and never had a problem with freezing pipes. After we took that out, we had to leave the water running. This isn't a solution for a tenant. We put heat tape on one pipe (longest run of hot water, the one that we typically had a problem with when one of us forgot to leave the water dripping), but they're like a spider web, there is NO way to tape all of them. We can't run ducts, since there's no central heat. Has anyone ever used a crawl space heater? I've seen them online but can't really find reviews, just people saying to run a duct or use heat tape, lol.

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Do you have the water lines insulated? The reason for asking is that we once had a situation where the water line came in under the house and it was less than a foot from the outside wall. We wrapped heat tape and then super insulated it, figuring that during the below zero nights we'd have to run the heat tape. End result was that we never had to plug in the heat tape at all. The insulation did it and there was no heat down there. Perhaps you can do something similar?
  3. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    We do now. Luckily the tenants are also friends of ours so we can pretty much rely on them to let us know asap if there is a problem. We just want to avoid the need for that phone call, especially since we live almost an hour from the house! Never again will we buy a place with a crawl space, unless it's a seasonal rental!!
  4. Paul L

    Paul L Member

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    We have radiant floor heating but once we started heating our living room zone with a woodstove, our crawl space temp dropped and there is an area right by the pressure tank that will freeze if it drops to single digits outdoors. I put a small electric space heater down there, plugged into this cool little thermostat that kicks on @ 35 degrees and off at 45 degrees.

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  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Is the crawlspace ventilated to the outside?
    Do the water lines lie between the floor joists or hang below them, or both?
    If both, are most lines between the joists with only main lines under the joists?
  6. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    No, unless the access door (outside) falls off, lol. We do plan to install some vents that can be closed in the winter to help keep moisture out though.

    Both, but mostly below. The house is getting near it's 100th birthday and has had some interesting DIY work in the past. We'd eventually like to just start all over and make it nice and clean and have everything up between the joists (there is a little copper, a little pex and some cpvc all together down there now, and actually, maybe even some galvanized-but I think that might be just waste lines). We planned to do this after we moved out and before we made it a rental, but we got a call after we had it back to the studs that some folks we knew lost their lease and needed in, in less than 2 months. Replumbing just didn't manage to get done before they were in.
  7. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I'm thinking that using forced air would result in most heat being wasted, going instead into the soil, walls, leaking out, etc.
    A radiant solution might work. Would a few strategically placed incandescent spot lights heat the pipes sufficiently to prevent freezing? You can buy IR bulbs that heat more efficiently than a standard white light bulb.
    You could even power them with a thermostat set to come on at freezing temps.
    Also, if they're pointed upward the light would tend to heat the floors also as a side benefit.

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the "best" solution is to convert the crawlspace to conditioned space using sealing and insulation methods. I can understand why this might not make sense though.
  8. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    We would love to make it "conditioned" however we'd still be in the same spot-how to heat it, since we don't have a conventional system to tie into. We do have skirting and pink board "behind" that between the pillars. The dirt floor is the killer right now. Someone previously had dug down parts so it's quite uneven, not as easy as renting a mixer and floating some concrete to make a floor unfortunately. We also plan to install a sump pump at some point to drain out the water that likes to collect there when it rains a lot (the house is lower than the street).

    The pipes are in a concentrated area, maybe 10 x 12 ish. It's not a big house. So the lights might work, it's just a matter of placement.

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