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Electric InfraRed heater and pipes freezing

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by mountainfrog, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. mountainfrog

    mountainfrog New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Loc:
    Western Maine
    Hi All,

    Does anyone have experience with electric infrared heaters? We just purchased our first house which was abandoned for 1.5 years. The house has a walk-in basement and two floors with about 550 square feet of space per floor. We have a pellet stove for the main floor but we are trying to decide what to use to heat the basement so that the water pipes do not freeze. Our choice is to use an electric infrared heater to heat the space containing the pipes (all located in one area) or install a second pellet stove to heat the entire basement.

    The cost of another pellet stove is daunting but I am concerned about the safety of an electric heater on in the basement. I was originally hoping that the heat from the main floor pellet stove would be enough to keep the pipes from freezing but I have been told that is not the case. Do people use electric infrared heaters to prevent pipes from freezing? What about Kerosene heaters? We don't use the basement for anything other than storage and laundry.

    I don't know of it makes a difference as far as freezing/bursting but I recently replaced all the copper piping with PEX tubing (I used SharkBite/GatorBite couplings and it worked great). Thanks for any advice.

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  2. seige101

    seige101 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    557
    Loc:
    Palmer, MA
    If everything is contained in one room i would look into a hard wired piece of electric baseboard heat and set the temp to about 50*. Much safer in my opinion than leaving a space heater unattended.
  3. rowerwet

    rowerwet Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    1,092
    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley, MA
    electric base board could be expensive to install, some people use space heaters hooked to a thermostat, one type being a thermocube, I use a thermocube to run the circulation pump on my OPB during the shoulder season to keep it from freezing. The thermocube turns the power on at 35* and shuts it off at 45* and plugs in to any outlet or extension cord.
    InFraRed heaters work great for people and animals as they feel just like a sunbeam, for heating the pipes they would work, but I think I have read that the ceramic disk type heaters are more efficient. heating the whole space will loose more heat than just heating the pipes, would those pipe tape type heaters and foam insulation work for you?
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,665
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    How "tight" is your basement . . . and how far down is the basement . . . the reason I ask is that my crawl space (which is more like a very short basement since I can stand up in it although I am hunched over) stays warm enough in the winter thanks to the earth's heat (it extends below the frost layer) and the residual heat from the domestic hot water pipes that are there . . . it's cool to be sure . . . but freezing has not been an issue even though I've been heating with wood for the past two+ years. In my case I have a concrete block wall . . . no insulation on the block . . . not the best . . . but it works.

    That said . . . when the temps are sub-zero I typically turn on my oil boiler once or twice during the day to flow some hot water through the system . . . figure it's easier to waste some oil than repairing a burst pipe in middle of the night. I also run a space heater with a built in thermostat in the room with the oil boiler . . . honestly I probably don't need to . . . but I set the temp pretty low . . . more of a back up to make sure the pipes don't freeze there.
  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Messages:
    2,427
    Loc:
    SW Virginia
    If you're only worried about the pipes you should consider using electric pipe heating cable. It wraps around the pipes and plugs into an outlet or extension cord.
  6. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    Feb 23, 2010
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    Loc:
    MAINE
  7. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Western CT
    Electric BAseboard is a wire and a heating unit. It is in a basement. Why would it be expensive?
  8. heating8

    heating8 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Messages:
    48
    Loc:
    south central PA
    you should have more than enough money from the scrap yard dealer to pay for some electric heat trace on the piping. That copper would have been a very nice pay day. The space heater will heat the space (if that's what you want) while the heat trace will only come on when needed. Where's the hot water heater located?

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