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options to prevent freezing?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by mack7, Feb 7, 2008.

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  1. mack7

    mack7 New Member

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    If I were to go on vacation and leave my boiler off (I have an eko 60)what can I do to prevent any damage? My boiler is in an outbuilding that stays quite toasty while the boiler is in operation but say I let the boiler cool down I am afraid of this area becoming cold enough to possibly freeze. I know that low temp return water can cause damage to the boiler but is this just when the boiler is in operation? I was thinking of running my circ pumps after the boiler comes down in temp to prevent any freeze damage, this seems simple enough but I dont want to cause a problem when I am trying to avoid a problem if you know what I mean (man thats confusing). I appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thanks, Scott

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  2. hkobus

    hkobus Member

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    This is exactly what I plan to do. The cold return is only an issue when the boiler is working as it can coause all kinds of fun. Returning water when cold is not an issue when off as it will warm the boiler. Infact they recommend in the Orland documentation to have a pre-heat tank in the system to help with "cold" starts.
    My plan is to install sensors that monitor the low temp in the boiler shack and cycle the circulator on and off for short times, drawing from the storage tank.

    Henk.
  3. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

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    How cold, for how long? If the building is below freezing you run the risk of freezing the piping and or boiler.

    Running the pump may protect it as long as the power doesn't fail :(

    You could drain down the system to be sure you are protected. Or ask a friend or neighbor to keep if fired just enough to prevent freezing.

    Best to protect an investment like that.

    hr
  4. mack7

    mack7 New Member

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    It is going to be about 4 days and temps should be around 20 to 40. I am trying not to burden anyone as far as keeping the fire going, and I really do not want drain the system if at all possible. I do understand though the risk of power failure but I am thinking these temps should not hurt me.
  5. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

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    In my concrete block well house I have a small electric heater on a t-stat I rigged up. Turns on at 32F. Some neighbors use a heat lamp to warm their pump houses.

    I trust the electric heater more then I would a 250W heat lamp bulb :), and the t-stat assures it isn't running when it is above freezing.

    hr
  6. hkobus

    hkobus Member

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    Yes the power is always a concern, with Nat gas as backup and an inverter to backup power, I should be good for a while. It will be harder to keep a electric heater or heatlamp going without a generator.

    Henk.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    If there's a chance the power could go out for an extended period, then I'd say isolate the boiler and drain it if you want to enjoy your vacation.
  8. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    This is something I've thought about but not yet tried to implement. What about an electric hot water heater element installed in the boiler or a T-type fitting? A few years ago during a real cold spell septic tanks were freezing all over in our area. I made a fitting with one of these elements and dropped it into the tank (1200 gal). I had to chop through ice about 8" thick at the top of the tank. I then put the element on a timer to run 2 hours per day. Within a couple of days the ice had melted, and the tank was safe until freeze danger ended. Just an idea.
  9. Jersey Bill

    Jersey Bill Member

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    OK, so you are not really worried about the power failing for a few days?
    Put a small electric heater and be done with it.

    Why cant you rig it up so it sucks a small bit of hot water from the house. I assume the house has an automatic boiler which will run while you are away.
  10. wdc1160

    wdc1160 New Member

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    I second bill's comment. If your not leaving during blizzard season a 1500 watt will provide 5100 btu. If you put it near your boiler undernormal circumstances it will cost you about 1.3 dollars a day to run, but save your hide and be easy.

    Keep in mind you can't put this on a super busy circuit. It wil throw a fuse, then you will have the very bad surpise when you get home... A boiler sickle.
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I second Bill's comment on cracking a valve and circulating a small amount of hot water from your backup boiler through the wood side, with constant circulation. That's my plan, though I haven't fooled around with it to know for sure how it would work. Draining is admittedly a last resort, but it beats replacing a breached boiler.
  12. Jersey Bill

    Jersey Bill Member

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    the extreme fix is to put glycol in the system. I would put a heat-x in the house to isolate the outdoor loop.
    I think that you will take a hit on the storage capacity because glycol holds less heat that water. its also kind of nasty.

    At the AHR show in NYC 2 weeks ago, I talked to a guy drom DuPont who makes an antifreeze from corn, called Susterra. He claims ite environmentally friendly, but unfourtiounately similar thermal characteristics as glycol.
  13. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

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    If you have a Farm Supply store nearby, they have all types of stock watering heaters and de-icers.

    hr
  14. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    For a long term solution would it work to connect the wood boiler to it's own zone from the backup boiler with a manual valve and it's own aquastat and pump also with a manual shut off allowing you to open a valve and turn on a switch to prevent freezing of the boiler as needed for any reason.
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