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  • Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

    My house has no heat at the moment (there are lots of downed wires in our area, including one taking out power to our street). Normally our basement is about 50 degrees in the winter, but without heat in the rest of the house it is going to get below freezing probably tomorrow night (around 27 degrees).

    Online it seems to say that 20 degrees is when you should start to worry, but it seems somewhat counterintuitive that the pipes wouldn't freeze at any temperature below 32.

    When I go back tomorrow to check on the house, I could easily drain the hot/cold water potable pipes, but the heating system would present more of a challenge, as there are quite a few spots where the pipes feeding the baseboard is lower than the boiler (and any drain that would be on it).

  • #2
    Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

    the domestic water you could keep trickling, but the hydronic is a challenge without power.

    i take it you're not living there with no power?

    a typical freezer is 0 degrees and it takes a couple hours to freeze and make ice cubes.

    any chance your system is not 100% pure water? it might have a lower freezing point.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
      the domestic water you could keep trickling, but the hydronic is a challenge without power.

      i take it you're not living there with no power?

      a typical freezer is 0 degrees and it takes a couple hours to freeze and make ice cubes.

      any chance your system is not 100% pure water? it might have a lower freezing point.

      rick.
      Rick,

      I don't think the heating system would have any sort of anti-freeze in there. I don't recall anything between the makeup water connection and the boiler but a pressure reducer, so I would guess not [but I'm not at home right now to check it].

      Charles

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      • #4
        Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

        Overnight @ at 26F is not too bad, but if it stays at 26F for an extend period you will have a problem. What are they saying for day time temps?

        You'll want to shut the main potable water feed off just in case.
        Last edited by Gene Bickford; 02-27-2010, 08:14 PM.
        INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
        Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

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        • #5
          Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

          Originally posted by Gene Bickford View Post
          Overnight @ at 26F is not too bad, but if it stays at 26F for an extend period you will have a problem. What are they saying for day time temps?

          You'll want to shut the main potable water feed off just in case.
          The daytime temps will have highs of between 36 and 40.

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          • #6
            Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

            Sleep good and don't worry about it, you're all set.

            Like I said ,you may want to shut the main off for extra protection, just in case something prevents you from getting back and the temps drop.

            I can't give you a temp that you need to worry about but I can say 27F over night with well above freezing day time temps is nothing to worry about.
            INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
            Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

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            • #7
              Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

              when power comes on would be a good day to put anti-freeze in. breid.........

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              • #8
                Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

                Con-Ed fixed the problem last night ahead of schedule (tomorrow night), so thankfully there was nothing to worry about. Got to come home this morning to a warm house.

                I actually do have a back-flow device on the system (a Conbraco 40-400 Double Check valve). Are there any cons to getting a plumber to fill the system with anti-freeze instead of water? I searched and in another thread, plumberscrack said it was expensive. How expensive (just a ballpark on a gallon of it). I think my system would take about 7-8 gallons. (Just roughing it out, the perimeter of my zones is 265' and at 2.52 gallons for each 100' of copper tube that works out to 6.78 gallons. I know that estimate is likely to be low, but I'm guessing the rest could probably be made up with regular water and still give a lot of protection).

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                • #9
                  Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

                  google "no-burst". there you are and here we go. some good reading. the idea is to just put enough in to prevent freezing not to get a 100% anti-freeze fill. don't use any automotive product. it will be a catastrophe to put it mildly. breid............

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                  • #10
                    Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

                    When you put anything other than water in the boiler the make-up water connection will become a high hazard cross connection and you need a RPZ type backflow preventer.

                    A Double Check w/Atmospheric Vent, the type normally installed on residential boilers, is designed to protect against low risk, non-health backflow conditions.

                    There could be greater danger of backflow when the power is down for extended periods, so a cross connection of this type would be at even greater risk.

                    You could physically break the make-up water connection and put anti-freeze in the system. Then drain and flush the system before you restart the boiler. The boiler of course should NOT be run without a source of make-up water. This would only be cost effective if the power would be down for an extended period of time.
                    Last edited by Bob D.; 02-28-2010, 06:36 PM.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

                      Sounds like it would start getting quite a bit more complicated and more expensive than just purchasing a couple of Kerosene heaters.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

                        Funny you should mention that...

                        I just happen to have a few that I keep ready to go for that very reason...
                        I haven't seen a long winter power outage in a while but I'm ready!
                        Last edited by Redwood; 03-01-2010, 12:30 AM.
                        411 Plumb Appliance Stimulus Package

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                        • #13
                          Re: Temperature when Pipes are Likely to Burst

                          We fill our infloor heating tubing with a mixture of glycol and water (a product called "vanfrost inhibited propylene glycol" to protect it from freezing. I don't see why it wouldn't work/be cost effective for baseboard heating systems. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

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