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How Will Power Blackout Affect My House? - Page 3

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Posted by Ron Rosenfeld on October 1, 2003, 7:20 pm
On 1 Oct 2003 08:42:52 -0700, jaykchan@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

You mentioned that it's an old, poorly insulated house.  So on a cold
winter, it will surely get below freezing at the outside walls.  How
quickly?  Depends.

I, too, was not aware of the traps for the baseboard hydronic systems, and
the potential for freezing, until our five day blackout.  Around day 3 or
4, I recall contacting my plumber who gave me that piece of information.
Fortunately our house was well insulated and stayed above freezing.

And no, having the dogs skunked was not fun.  But we got into a "grin and
bear it" mode since we couldn't do anything about it, anyway.

Good luck with whatever you decide.  Depending on how much you want to
power, you can spend almost anything you want.  But beware of the
inexpensive generators because, especially if you ignore them when you
don't need them, they are unlikely to work when you do need them.  The best
systems would have an automatic transfer switch, and an automatic exercise
function.  Onan makes a 12kW unit, powered by propane or natural gas, that
should cost less than $,000 and would be perfect for what you've
described.  You might not be able to run an electric oven; but you should
be able to run at least one or two burners.  You might even be able to run
the oven depending on what else was going on at the time.

-- ron  (off the grid in Downeast Maine)

Posted by Jay Chan on October 2, 2003, 12:26 pm

Oh no! I was thinking of getting by without doing much. I was thinking
of doing simple stuff like draining the water pipe and adding
anti-freeze into U-trap under sinks and toilets. Now that you have
pointed out the problem with the water trapped in baseboard. I will
have to rethink. I surely don't want to wait for someone to fix the
baseboard heating system in a cold winter.

I have a feeling that I cannot add anti-freeze into the water for
baseboard, right? I have a feeling that the water is the same water
from the water heater because I see that the water pipe of the furnace
is connecting to the water heater.

Thanks for the info on backup generator. I hope I don't need to go for
this option.

Jay Chan

Posted by Ron Rosenfeld on October 2, 2003, 7:07 pm
 On 2 Oct 2003 05:26:08 -0700, jaykchan@hotmail.com (Jay Chan) wrote:

There are ways of adding anti-freeze to a heating system.  The line from
your furnace to your water heater may not actually connect to your drinking
supply, but may just go to a heat exchanger in the water heater tank.

Check with your plumber.

I have been told that the disadvantage is some loss of efficiency of heat
transfer.  In other words, a gallon of anti-freeze can't hold has much heat
as a gallon of water, so your heating system has to work harder.  I don't
know enough to analyze the tradeoffs, though.

-- ron  (off the grid in Downeast Maine)

Posted by Dale Farmer on October 3, 2003, 3:06 am

Jay Chan wrote:

    Usually the circulating heating water is not the hot potable water.
Typically there is an automatic make-up valve from the cold potable
water supply to the circulating water loop, and a pressure relief valve
from the circulating water loop to a drain ( or more commonly, the
floor of the furnace room. )
    Here is suburban Boston we had a five day outage in a 70's built
house and didn't have any problems with pipes freezing with outside
temps in the 20s at night.  We were burning wood in the fireplaces
though to warm up the house though.


Posted by Stormin Mormon on October 3, 2003, 1:27 pm
 Yes, baseboard radiators can freeze and crack. But only if the house gets
cold enought to freeze pipes. If you're home, you'd be doing something to
keep the house warmer than that!

The one time I had a pipe freeze, it was in an unheated room, and it was
right next to a window.


Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus

We use hot water baseboard heating in my house. Does this mean that
the water trapped in the baseboard may become frozen and may crack the
baseboard (especially those installed along the exterior window)? Will
they really crack after 2 days without power in a cold winter? I am
not aware of this. Thanks for pointing out.

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