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Drums of water in the basement as a buffer

Not sure where to post this. I read a discussion somewhere about a guy who had his basement, closets etc filled up with gallon/soda bottles filled with water to store latent heat energy.
This got me thinking, my basement is useless, but I have radiators down there to help heat the old stone house. I was thinking that I could throw some plastic 55 gallon barrels filled with water in the basement, and just leave them there. They the mass of water should help balance out temperature swings, and take some load off of the boiler if my thinking is correct.
Water is free, drums are free, Thoughts?


  • jrv8984jrv8984 Posts: 41Member
    Not going to really cost me anything to fill up some drums.

    Yeah, this whole Foster children thing is forcing me to make some changes/improvements sooner than initially planned, in an old house that has some challenges.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,366Member
    Having drums full of stagnant water in the basement sounds like a good science project that I wouldn't want to be a part of.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • jrv8984jrv8984 Posts: 41Member
    eh, they are going to have the caps screwed on
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 12,100Member
    Well... it might even out basement temperatures very slightly. The basic concept is used in a number of active and semi-passive solar designs, but in those cases the water is heated to a temperature high enough to be useful as heat, and there is some mechanism such as a fan or pumps to move the heat around to where it is needed or from where it is collected -- or both. Without that... don't think it's worth it. Even if it is almost free.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,366Member
    jrv8984 said:

    eh, they are going to have the caps screwed on

    Plastic is not an oxygen barrier. So you will have water, darkness, and oxygen. That is a breeding ground for all kinds of fun stuff.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 1,102Member
    Why are you heating a old stone foundation in the first place?
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 10,483Member
    KC_Jones said:

    jrv8984 said:

    eh, they are going to have the caps screwed on

    Plastic is not an oxygen barrier.
    Ok Burt Gummer.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • nibsnibs Posts: 391Member
    Not much will grow in the barrels, especially if you chlorinate (bleach) the water when you fill the barrels. (favorite wife was a microbiologist pre retirement.)
    If you used a solar water heater you could save some bucks, otherwise much ado about not much.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 5,518Member
    I would be very surprise if your basement fluctuated in temperature much. Unless you are actively moving heat in an out of the barrels with heat exchangers and pumps, I don't see what you will accomplish.
    Your basement is a high mass structure that likely stays pretty close to ground temp unless it is getting waste heat from the boiler and piping. What does adding more mass to this space accomplish?
    Storing active or passive solar energy to distribute at night in an insulated water tank works well. I don't see any benefit to just storing a bunch of cold water in your basement.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • jrv8984jrv8984 Posts: 41Member
    I have radiators in the basement, it helps with this drafty old house. so they would end up being pretty warm.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 5,518Member
    What are you hoping to accomplish with the stored water?
    Old drafty homes usually need air sealing and insulation, not thermal mass at room temp. I just don't understand what this additional mass at room temp will accomplish.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • hot_rodhot_rod Posts: 12,534Member
    Those drum type water tanks were typically in a south facing glass area. they soak up passive solar during the day, add it to the room at night.

    Heat transfers to cold, always.
    The rate of transfer depends on the ∆T(temperature difference), ambient to the drum.
    The warmer the drum, above ambient temperature the greater the rate of transfer to the space.

    The drums at ambient room temperature cannot exchange any energy to the space, no ∆ to work around.

    I'd spend money on a blower door test find and seal all the infiltration, in a home like that.

    You may cut a large % of the heat load by doing the seal up.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Posts: 1,669Member
    Hi, You May want to search “Steve Baer drum wall”. He came up with the idea in the late sixties/ early seventies and made it work. He stacked drums behind south facing glass and had an insulated door outside that could be closed at night. I’m agreeing with others that finding and fixing air leaks is probably the low hanging fruit here.
    Yours, Larry
  • Robert_25Robert_25 Posts: 184Member
    Skip the barrels and work on stopping the wind from blowing through the house. In most cases you can make a big difference for not a lot of money.
  • JellisJellis Posts: 184Member
    I read that the North Pond Hermit here in Maine reportedly buried water jugs in the floor of his greenhouse and was able to grow veggies even through the cold Maine winters. No doubt there is some Gain to be had, however like others have stated you are better off properly insulating, better to hold the heat in than make more of it, kind of like leaving the door open and turning up the thermostat if you ask me.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 5,518Member
    The barrels being heated either directly by the sun or indirectly through panels would be an excellent idea. I am not seeing the point in just putting a bunch of water barrels in a dark basement.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 6,522Member
    The old timers in my area talked of putting containers of water (probably the wash tubs) into the "root cellar" to prevent freezing of their food stored there. These cellars were about 1/2 underground and then had a thick layer of earth for the roof.
    I believe the btu's stored in the water were given up as the temp dropped. Then more btu's released as the phase change of water to ice took place. This was just enough heat to keep the potatoes etc. from freezing.

    Common in fruit orchards today, run the sprinklers as the air temp hit freezing.

    The jugs of water mentioned in the greenhouse may have been very helpful. As the sun heated the water storing heat, the water would have circulated thru the jug as more of it heated.
    Trying to store heat in static dirt would not have been as effective as the more fluid water. IMO

    If your basement was near freezing then this all may be helpful.

    Tighten up the basement seems more logical.
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