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steam heat wasted just to keep 2nd floor bath pipe freeze. Should I just use a small space heater?

LS123 Member Posts: 475

I have steam heat....and love it....

I have 2 story house. two bed rooms and a bath on the second floor. We only use the second floor once in a while during winter.
But I keep upstairs heated during winter so pipes going in to the bathroom would not freeze.

Pipes are in the attic closet (next to the bath room), the closet is no more than 10 feet long, 5 feet wide, the roof in a angle.

I was wondering if it would be worth while for me to reduce the steam heat on each radiator to lowest possible (on the second floor rooms), and then put a small electric space heater in the closet to keep the pipes from freezing?

Each room is about 15x15 ( or little bigger) bath is about 10x15. The closet is 10x5, insulated, but the roof is to an angle and I dont have that many sq feet to heat in the closet where the bath room pipes are at.

I figured if I keep the space heater to be about 45F, drop all three room temps to be the lowest adjustable vent valve setting, I could save fuel and money...

Would I have significant amount of oil saving by doing so?

Would the electricity cost can be higher than what I save on oil?

I do not know much about heat loss upstairs would have a impact on downstairs heaters, etc

Would this be a good idea?

Thank you
Thank you!


  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
    edited January 2021
    Is the closet uninsulated and basically open to the outdoors? (edit: I see you said it's insulated) Have you monitored how cold it gets in there? I would rather insulate that space than put a heater in there. It seems there would be enough "stolen" heat from the downstairs to prevent the upstairs from freezing but maybe not.

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  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
    I would valve off and drain the water lines to the 2nd floor bath. I would winterize the toilet and sink traps with antifreeze. I would not want a space heater in a closet. Will you check the temp of the closet every day all winter long? The antifreeze may cost less than the electric to run the space heater.

    You may get enough "stolen" heat as long as the first floor is 65 F. What happens when the power or boiler go out and the first floor drops to 45 F?
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,840
    I would do what @WMno57 said drain and winterize. Skip the space heater.

    You may not save as much as you think. There is probably no insulation between the first and second floor but you will use less steam.

    How your boiler reacts to this only time will tell. No harm in trying
  • LS123
    LS123 Member Posts: 475
    thank you @ethicalpaul , @WMno57 , and @EBEBRATT-Ed . Closet is insulated... fiberglass and not covered with sheet rocks. so I do not leave the closet door open at all... I have not checked the temp in the closet. I will start checking the temp. there is no insulation between the first floor sealing and second floor floor. It seems like winterize is a good option..but should my kids or friends show up I would have to winterize each time. I remember in my old house there were some wires in the basement connected to power line... I do not know what they are called... by the way only about a foot and half of 1/2 inch copper pipes are exposed in the closet....
    Thank you all for the feedback!
    Thank you!