Cold Basement / Pipe Freezing

cropnerOctober 19, 2008

I have just purchased a house in Middletown, CT and thought I was being smart by also buying a pellet stove to beat the high oil costs. My house is a two-story house with a basement. I installed the stove on the first floor. As it gets cooler I have realized how cold the basement gets now that the furnace never kicks in. My worry is frozen pipes. My thermostat is also on the first floor so I am thinking it needs to be moved. My first thought was to move it to the second floor and away from the heat. But then I started thinking of moving it to the basement and setting it to 58. The basement move would be far easier than moving it to the second floor but I don't know if it is a good idea or not. Any one out there with some advice/input? Thanks

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I think you have to think ahead. If you move the thermostat, and decide to not use the pellet stove, you'll be sorry.

What kind of heat do you have? If its a boiler, than maybe the standby heat can keep your basement warm enough. It also might be easier to split your zones into a 1st and 2nd floor zone (even 3rd basement zone?).

I have no experience with forced hot air so cannot help there regarding splitting the zones.

You also can get a special fan that will pull air from the 1st floor to the basement. IT built for this purpose.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 8:56PM
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How below grade is the basement? If it were halfway underground or more, I suspect sealing all the air gaps and adding some rim joist insulation (eg rigid foam and/or spray foam) might help greatly. BTW, doing so on a cold brisk windy day makes it easy to find all those gaps (from inside) with your hand. Also, if the windows are leaking air around the frame, seal the leaks or replace the windows.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:32AM
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If the sole intent of the thermostat move is to keep the basement warm enough so the pipes don't freeze, then, I would add a second thermostat in the basement set at 45 degrees.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 11:33PM
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Or get some sort of space heater for that area, also on a separate 'stat.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 2:25PM
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As homebound suggested, as long as there are no serious air leaks near pipes, it's highly unlikely you will be troubled by freezing. We have heated our 1820 home primarily with wood for the past 34 years - oil consumption has averaged between 100 and 130 gallons per winter. Unmortared stone foundation below grade, brick above. Only place there has ever been a frozen pipe was along the sill on the north facing kitchen wall. Never happened again once gap between sill and foundation was sealed. The insulation provided by the earth itself and the warmth radiating below ground will keep temperatures above 32 degrees.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 5:27AM
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35 deg in the basement is completely adequate to prevent freezing. Get one of these, plug a portable space heater into it. Set it at 35 deg.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thermostat

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 10:36AM
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I would set your furnace fan to run continuously. It will circulate the air through the house, so you'll get better results and more even heating from the pellet stove.

A back up heater downstairs might be a good idea but make sure it doesn't come on til it's pretty cold, or your savings will go out the window...

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 1:19PM
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