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Keeping circulators always on in unattended home to prevent freeze damage

Cliffy Member Posts: 24
We're going to be leaving our old house empty for a good part of the winter with the heat set to a fixed temp of 58.

There has been a history of freezes within the hot water baseboard elements when it gets windy and super duper cold out.  I have an infrared thermometer and have always found the freeze and thawed it with a hair dryer.  I'd like a neighbor to be able to turn the circulators on when it's like that outside to prevent water from freezing in the thin baseboard finned pipe. 

It's a multizone system so I can't just run the same hot line to each circulator. 

Can I feed, via individual switches, 120 volts to the each line side leading to the circulator within a Taco SR504EXP to keep the motors running all the time?  Will that damage the board at all?  Is there an easier way to keep the circulators always on?


  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,373
    Not that way

    The Taco SR 504EXP is capable of having three different cards added to its expansion ports: that's what the "EXP" stands for. Get the pump exercise card and adjust it to bring on the circ's as needed. It just plugs into the port.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Cliffy
    Cliffy Member Posts: 24
    I saw that card

    I saw that card.  It's a step in the right direction but am looking for a means to run all the pumps continuously only when it's darned outright frigid cold and windy; the only time frozen pipes have been an issue. 

    Am not convinced the exercise board would eliminate a developing freeze constriction, whereas constant circulation wouldn't allow it to form.

    I don't understand the physics, but since we've had frozen blockages with the heating system on it appears it doesn't take long for the pipe to freeze under adverse conditions which makes continual circulation even more appealing.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,373

    How about just using antifreeze? It would be a lot cheaper than a broken pipe. You would loose a little capacity, but most hydronic systems are over-sized.

    Just make sure it's hydronic antifreeze, not automotive. If you have an aluminum boiler, that requires a special type.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Super Duper Cold

    If you can define what that temperature is, you could use a setpoint controller with an outdoor temp probe and just wire it in parallel with the existing thermostat.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,569

    The constant circ will work..... until the power goes out for a few hours.

    If you have a vulnerable system, you really need antifreeze.

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Dave H_2
    Dave H_2 Member Posts: 553
    House monitoring

    Why not go with an internet based thermostat?

    You can see the temp in the house when you are away and depending upon the stat, they can grab the local weather data to see how cold it is outside.

    Other than that, antifreeze should be added if freezing conditions exist inside too often.

    Dave H
    Dave H
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,270

    Don't play games.

    As noted, a constant circ will work -- unless it's really cold and the boiler is off.  Then it won't.

    A nice internet base warning system will tell you that your house is going to freeze, assuming that the power is still on and the internet connection still works.  Then what are you going to do about it?

    Antifreeze will keep your system from freezing, which can cause enough damage to make the house a total loss.  Believe me, I've seen it happen.

    I'll grant you that working on a system which has antifreeze is tiresome.  That, however, is no excuse.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
This discussion has been closed.