Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I live in Maine, and it can get cold in the winter. My house has baseboard hot water heating and three heating zones (basement, first floor, and second floor). We have a mudroom/entry room that I believe was added to the house after it was originally built - it has many windows and cools easily. It also has a long heating register, which is on the first floor zone.

The thermostat for the first floor zone is well-located in a central spot. Typically, all works well. When most of the first floor is kept at a comfy 68 or so, the mudroom is probably in the mid or upper 40s.

A problem has arisen, however, with the installation of a wood stove on our first floor. The stove works well and can heat the whole house. However, when it is operating, it raises the inside temp enough so that the baseboard heat doesn't come on. The problem is that if it is sufficiently cold outside, the temperature out in the mudroom can drop into the low 30s (or potentially lower if I don't keep a careful eye on it). I obviously don't want this to happen because i don't want the pipes that supply the register in the mudroom to freeze.

What suggestions do you have that might address this problem?

Some ideas I've had are:

  • Remove the baseboard heat from the mudroom (possible, though I'd like a little heat out there)
  • Put the mudroom on its own zone (a bit of a costly undertaking, but perhaps the best solution)
  • Put a thermostat out in the mudroom set to, say, 35 - it would be connected to the same first-floor zone as the indoor thermostat. The whole zone would kick on when either thermostat tripped. Would add more heat than wanted inside...but might be workable?
  • Install some sort of shut-off valve on the pipes that go out to the mudroom so that I can manually drain those pipes and shut off water in them when I am running the stove. (I suspect this is a bad idea)
  • Install some sort of standalone heater. (I am reluctant to do this - there isn't a great spot for one, and it seems like a less elegant solution in that it adds an additional complication rather than fixing the existing problem)
share|improve this question
    
Would not a fan to circulate the heat into the places where it is needed be a simple fix? it would also even out the hot spots, or other cool spots, created by the centrally located wood stove. It will not need to be on high, just something to move the air around. –  Jack Jan 6 at 14:16
    
@Jack a fan is a good idea, but I don't want to lose the heat out the mudroom door (which would have to be open to move heat from the warm indoors into the cooler mudroom) –  susie derkins Jan 7 at 1:33
    
DA01s suggestions are the way to go then, whether the electric resistance or rerouted with the basement. Though I would prefer the hot water baseboard, if the basement doesn't come on enough to keep it from freezing, that would be still be bad as you know. So I would have to go with the electric baseboard, if a cable can make it there. –  Jack Jan 7 at 2:18
    
I have a similar problem with my woodstove, and up to this point I just have to be mindful that it's cold enough out that I need to make sure the baseboard heat circulate so the water keeps moving. I actually use IFTTT.com to text me when it gets below 10F outside, as that's when I start to have problems. –  Jon Fournier Jan 10 at 14:47
add comment

4 Answers 4

Some different ideas:

  • Remove the baseboard water heater and replace with electric, thereby creating it's own zone. If the only pipes in this room were for the radiator, you wouldn't even need to set the heat, as there are no more pipes to worry about.

  • Add insulation to the mudroom

  • Keep mudroom door open when using wood heater

  • Splice your pipes and add the mudroom baseboard to one of the other circuits that will be running even when wood stove is on (basement, likely).

share|improve this answer
    
I like these ideas. I hadn't thought of switching it to the basement zone. Though replacing entirely with an electric baseboard might be more practical. –  susie derkins Jan 7 at 1:35
add comment

I would add a thermostat set for 35-38 degrees for the zone. It's not likely to run very often, but would be the surest way to head off frozen pipes. Keep in mind that the baseboard, being on the outside wall, and probably below windows, will be in the coolest spot in the room when you choose your thermostat setpoint.

If you have all the heat your need from the woodstove, you might also consider whether you can use a small fan to move some heat into the mudroom.

share|improve this answer
    
is this idea the same as the third idea I mentioned originally? Essentially, have two thermostats for the zone, one inside and one out in the mudroom. Both set at different temps, and either one turning on the heat for the whole zone when it's temp threshold is crossed? If it is the same, I'm curious to know if the wiring for this is done regularly and/or easily. –  susie derkins Jan 7 at 1:43
    
Yes, assuming your existing thermostats are 24 volt, the wiring is straightforward, just hook the R and W terminals on the two thermostats together -- R to R, and W to W -- (if you also have A/C on the same thermostat you want to be careful that the new thermostat is off whenever you are in A/C mode). If you have line voltage thermostats, you should consult a qualified electrician. –  TomG Jan 7 at 2:40
add comment

You might want to consider trace heating, using heating cable.

enter image description here

There are lots of different brands available with built-in and add-on thermostats, plug attached or hardwired. Simply install the cable following the manufacturers instructions, set the thermostat, and stop worrying about frozen pipes. Most cables are designed to work with both metal and plastic pipes, so it's a fairly versatile solution.

share|improve this answer
    
intriguing. Using heating cable hadn't occurred to me. I'll have to do a calculation to see how much I would need and how much it would cost ($ and energy) to operate on an ongoing basis, compared to the other solutions. –  susie derkins Jan 7 at 1:40
add comment
  1. You can replace the water in the system with antifreeze. A special product is made for this.
    http://www.ehow.com/how_5050275_add-antifreeze-heating-system.html

  2. Install a thermostat that only turns on the circulator. Simplest way would be add 2nd circulator controlled by 120v thermostat (electric baseboard thermostat). There is probably a way to do it using existing circulator too. This way you are not wasting money heating a house that is already hot from wood stove.

  3. You can get an electric heater that mounts on the wall and is less that 1" thick.

share|improve this answer
    
Tempted to down vote just based on the link to ehow.com –  Tester101 Jan 6 at 15:44
    
Boilers that I've seen trigger the heat when the water in the boiler cools down, which would happen whenever you run a circulator. I think this would eliminate #2 as an option for most systems. –  TomG Jan 7 at 2:33
    
I think the idea behind #2 is good, personally. Basically just wire a second thermostat in parallel for the same zone, so that if the mudroom gets too cold it trips the same zone. Is that stupid/dangerous? I've actually thought about doing this, myself, using a RaspberryPi computer to trip a relay for the parallel connection. I would want to program it so that if the weather is below 10F outside then the circulator runs every other hour for 5 minutes, enough to get the water moving, even if it trips the furnace to run... –  Jon Fournier Jan 10 at 14:50
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.