What the heck does this mean?

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Okay, so got this from an installer who wrote a proposal and have no idea what he's talking about. The unconditioned space is a addition to the house with a 3' bare dirt crawl space underneath it. the pipes to it run through a 3' open hole leading to the basement.

The previous pipes were cast iron and uninsulated.

How the heck would the anti freeze be able to go back into the municipal water system? And why would I need anti freeze in the system to begin with? Won't ever be shutting down the house in the winter.

From the installer proposal:

"Some piping will be in unconditioned spaces requiring anti freeze and holding tank with pump to be added to the system. This is required to isolate the anti freeze from the municipal water system."


Promise no arguing on this one ;)
 
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Good point but I live in a city, so in that case it probably would look like world war z after a few days of no electricity and freezing pipes would be the last of my worries.

I mean, it's conceivable that the power could go out on my block for a day or so but have never heard of it happening.

But seriously, I'm planning on insulting the pipes and on top of that they're going to be fostapex. Just stumped how the water would get back into the muni system past the check valve or the water pressure
 
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What would happen if the power went out for a few days? Or a pump failed, or the boiler needed a replacement part?

Yeah, fair enough.

Would love to avoid it though as it brings in variables as having to flush the system more often and the degradation of the heating efficiency.
 

DIYorBust

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Well obviously if you could avoid running the piping through unconditioned space that would avoid this problem. You could consider insulating the crawl space, this would have additional benefits, but is often a dirty, unpleasant, and therefore expensive job. You could run heat tracers on the pipe, but I doubt your contractors will want to warranty that solution, and it won't help you if the power goes out. You could try to insulation just the area that has the pipes in it, but I've done this to protect pipes that were temporarily exposed during a renovation and still ended up needing heat tracers.

I'm with you though, I would try to avoid the antifreeze if possible, just one more complexity to deal with and puts more wear and tear on your components.
 
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Well obviously if you could avoid running the piping through unconditioned space that would avoid this problem. You could consider insulating the crawl space, this would have additional benefits, but is often a dirty, unpleasant, and therefore expensive job. You could run heat tracers on the pipe, but I doubt your contractors will want to warranty that solution, and it won't help you if the power goes out. You could try to insulation just the area that has the pipes in it, but I've done this to protect pipes that were temporarily exposed during a renovation and still ended up needing heat tracers.

I'm with you though, I would try to avoid the antifreeze if possible, just one more complexity to deal with and puts more wear and tear on your components.

But why the holding tank and pump to isolate it from the muni water? How would it even get back into it?
 

Dana

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I have no idea what they are referring to with the holding tank issue, what the holding tank would entail or cost. It sounds as if the may be referring to a tank that is never permanently hooked up to the potable supply that's big enough to fill the entire system volume, so that the system gets filled only from the tank, so that the heating system is never (ever) plumbed directly to the potable supply in any way. I've never seen it done that way, I'm just guessing as to what that verbiage means.

Is the addition on a poured concrete or CMU foundation, or something else? Is the crawlspace vented to the outdoors, or only to the basement via the 3' hole?

Rather than antifreeze and holding tank, it may be cheaper to put down a heavy ground vapor barrier over the dirt and install a couple inches of closed cell spray polyurethane to the exterior walls of the crawlspace, converting it to conditioned space. That would both help freeze protect the plumbing and lower the heat load on the house. Installing R6 (1.5" fiberglass) pipe insulation would help too, but it's not enough on it's own. In many places code requires R3 (3/4" fiberglass) or R4 (1") minimum even for heating distribution pipes located inside of conditioned space.

If long power outages are contemplated during cold weather (Kingston is sort of like like Puerto Rico, only colder, right?) it may be worth installing an automatic natural gas fired backup power generator to keep the heating system system and a few other things going no matter what happens to the local distribution grid during storms & cold snaps. If your local utility service is never down for more than 24 hours at a time that may be an extravagance. But even if it's more money than the tank & pump solution, having power backup is more valuable to have than antifreeze if the grid's flaky. With no air handlers on the heating system it doesn't take a very big generator to keep it up & running.
 

hj

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You would need a RPPFBP type backflow preventer to protect agains anitfreeze in the domestic water system. I am not sure what he means by "holding tank" unless it is just an expansion tank sized for the glycol system. The "unconditioned space" would have to be subjected to freezing temperatures to need a glycol system.
 

Sylvan

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During hurricane Sandy NYC lost electrical power in many areas and because of no heat domestic water lines, hydronic heating lines , wet fire suppression system piping froze along with exposed building hose traps

When power was restored I had my crews working 14 -16 hr days for over a month :)

When we replace water lines from roof tanks we call in a insulating company and with proper insulation there is no worry about sub zero weather

They are now responsible for making sure the 4" lines from the tank and the water lines to the tanks

Insulation works and draining down all the water lines and removing water from traps except the main is there is one.
 

DIYorBust

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I believe those rooftop tanks have circulation back into the building though. It's important to clarify that insulation will only slow the freezing and buy you time. If the water is circulating through the building, warmer water will replace the cold and prevent freezing. But it's sitting in a crawl space at 10F it will eventually freeze. That's true of the whole house technically, but I think it will be hard to insulate a pipe to retain heat as long as the home due to it's smaller thermal mass. It's hard to say though, if the crawlspace doesn't get very cold in winter, you may get away with this, but I doubt the Plumber will want to be responsible for it.

Heat tracers address that by adding a little heat to warm the pipes under the insulation, but won't help if the power is out. If you decide to take your chances, I'd put the tracers in as it will be relative cheap while you're insulating.
 

Dana

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If the plumbing is located in an INSULATED and AIR SEALED crawl space the crawl space is being heated by 50-55F subsoil in Kingston NY. With a code-minimum R15 continuous insulation on the foundation wall and little or no outdoor air infiltration, the crawlspace would be the last plumbing to freeze in an extended power outage. If the rest of the house gets reasonably insulated & tightened up the crawl space won't freeze at all even if the power failure occurs for the full duration of a Polar Vortex disturbance cold snap.

This house is something like 120 years old, and the heating system probably still has the original gravity-feed hydronic system plumbing. If it hasn't frozen and cracked over that entire history it's unlikely to happen after air sealing and insulating the house a bit better. The addition is somewhat newer with less of a history and probably has somewhat different plumbing, but bringing the crawlspace walls up to current code min on insulation values will protect it, even if you don't get around to insulating the plumbing (still recommended) until later. The notion that this system needs antifreeze isn't well founded, especially since it's currently undergoing improvements the thermal performance of the building. Spending the freeze protection money on insulating the crawlspace foundation is much better than spending it on anti-freeze measures in the system.

If a hurricane bad enough to knock out power for months comes along (as in Puerto Rico) there will be bigger things to worry about, but you'll have time to drain the system to limit damage to the system.
 

DIYorBust

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If the plumbing is located in an INSULATED and AIR SEALED crawl space the crawl space is being heated by 50-55F subsoil in Kingston NY. With a code-minimum R15 continuous insulation on the foundation wall and little or no outdoor air infiltration, the crawlspace would be the last plumbing to freeze in an extended power outage. If the rest of the house gets reasonably insulated & tightened up the crawl space won't freeze at all even if the power failure occurs for the full duration of a Polar Vortex disturbance cold snap.

So you're recommending that he insulate the crawl space?
 

Dana

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So you're recommending that he insulate the crawl space?

Yes, I'm absolutely recommending he insulate the crawl space (and the rest of the house, if you read his other thread.)

The order in which the upgrades get made matters. The fact that he's being pressed to make expensive freeze protection measures to the system that wouldn't be needed if the crawl space foundation gets done first moves the crawlspace insulation up on the priority list. But air sealing the foundation as well as the attic floor and any chases that run from the basement to the attic is still the absolute highest priority for taming this place, since air leaks at the top and bottom of the house is what determines the stack effect infiltration drive. Some people find it odd to think that sealing up the attic floor helps keep the crawlspace & basement warmer, but it's pretty basic physics. If air isn't going out the top it isn't sucking cold air in at the bottom. Air sealing is the critical first step to making this house more comfortable and more efficient. And air sealing both the bottom & top of the house is the most important place to start.
 

DIYorBust

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I agree, it will add some cost the job, but it won't be wasted money like installing an antifreeze system that won't save on fuel or increase comfort. But it will also add some logistic complexity. Someone has to be hired to do that, and other problems may become apparent such as drainage issues, damaged joists, incorrect footings etc.
 

Dana

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Complex or not, that's all stuff that needs to be done for this project house at some point anyway. Since there appears to be a budget for all new high-mass radiation it's silly to apply that to a heat load that could be reduced by resolving some of these other deficiencies.
 
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