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How to keep my basement warm?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by drewmo, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    256
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    We're slowly emerging from the winter and I'm happy to report that I burned about 30-40 gallons of oil thanks to the addition of our PE insert and new Harman P43. Combined, they kept us cozy through the winter and surely saved us some $$.

    For the coldest parts of the winter, I kept my oil boiler on standby as a way to add a little heat into the basement and so I could circulate hot water through the baseboards occasionally, replacing the cold water with hot. This strategy successfully kept any pipes from freezing.

    However, my boiler is on its last legs and desperately needs to be removed completely (preferred action) or replaced (not preferred since I really do'n't need it). If I remove it, I won't have to worry about the baseboard pipes from freezing since they'll be drained. However, I am concerned that the domestic water pipes in the basement could be subject to freezing temps if I don't introduce at least at little bit of heat into the basement during the deep freezes. Even with the boiler on standby, the basement temps dropped to the high 30s.

    I've insulated all the pipes, put plastic over the basement windows and insulated the box sills with R30. I'm not aware of any drafts in the basement, but I'm sure there's a spot or two. Any suggestions on how to keep the basement at temp so as to keep pipes from freezing?

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Dec 5, 2005
    Messages:
    6,658
    Loc:
    Sand Lake, NY
    Could you pick up a late model oil boiler for not too much money in an area that's getting natural gas? I would think you'd still want a bacup for when you leave the house for a while.
  3. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    1,977
    Loc:
    Northern CT
    Plus, a future buyer and his bank may want a more "permanent" heating system. Some lenders are funny about that.

    And +1 on the backup heat!
  4. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    256
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I agree on all points in having a more "permanent" system, as well as a backup for any extended absence. And I very much like the idea of picking up a used boiler now that Central Maine is on its way to having NG available to some communities.

    However, we've found ourselves in a very complicated heating arrangement. The boiler heats only three zones, all of which are part of an addition. The original part of the home is now heated by the wood insert, which replaced an antiquated wood/oil combo forced air furnace. In total, we're trying to economically heat 2,500+ SF. In the very near future we do not anticipate selling, so finding a "permanent" solution is not critical. Keeping the basement from freezing is. Perhaps installing a new/used boiler is the most economical fix???

    Since I started this thread, I thought perhaps the Englander pellet stove we replaced with the Harman could be installed in the basement and fired up when necessary. I held on to the Englander although it needs a blower fan replacement. I might be inclined to burn more in pellets, but likely cheaper to install than a new/used boiler.
  5. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Jan 12, 2009
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    2,346
    Loc:
    SW Virginia
    I think the most inexpensive fix would be to put some thermostatically controlled heat tape on the pipes that might freeze.
    heat seeker likes this.
  6. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    4,848
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    That might be a quick fix until a boiler comes along.

    Matt
  7. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
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    2,714
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Space heater set to 40°. The standby losses on the boiler were prob ~500-1000W, about the same as a space heater on med or high.
  8. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2012
    Messages:
    759
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    I've got a perfectly functioning 3 zone oil boiler that I'm getting rid of. It's older, but has been under and annual service contract it's entire life. It also has a tankless water heater that was supplemented by a solar array. We've converted off oil so I was planning on putting it on craigslist this week.

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