Hurricane Sandy: Winterize a hot water base board system

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Old 11-07-12, 11:28 PM
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Hurricane Sandy: Winterize a hot water base board system

Hello, New to site!

My shore house in Toms River was in the path of hurricane sandy. There is no gas and power and wont be for months. I usually leave the heat on all winter and use the house on the weekends. This year I will need to winterize the system since there wont be gas or power for months.

Heres my problem the boiler is in a crawl space/ attic space. I need to drain the pipes and base boards which will require using a air compressor to force the water up to the boiler (10 feet) so it can be drained out. How do I do this? Where would I connect the compressor? Its a baseboard system 2 bedroom house. Is this the best method? Should I instead add antifreeze? If so can this be distributed without turning the system on? Obviously I am very concerned about my pipes bursting.

Any and all advice is appreciated.
 
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Old 11-08-12, 02:23 AM
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Usually the idea is to allow water to drain from the lowest point. Are you sure there is no draining device down low ? You are saying the boiler is above all the plumbing. I would let some of the others chime in here but I'd be tempted to cut in a low point drain valve. Installing anti freeze would probably be a great idea although not as easy as it sounds to install.
 
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Old 11-08-12, 05:18 AM
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I would not do antifreeze. Just drain the system.

Yeah, if your boiler is below everything else in the system, attach a hose and open the drain valve to let it all out. If the boiler is below grade, run the hose to a sink or outside somehow. Then you are just left with the water in the boiler. You can bail that out with a few bucket fulls.
 
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Old 11-08-12, 09:17 AM
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Thats my issue the boiler is ABOVE the system. The house is a slab on grade, the mechanical room is above. I need to get the water from the pipes back into the boiler to drain the system. (i think)

From what I have read online forcing the water out of the pipes with a compressor is the way its done. I just cant find ANY info on how this is done
 
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Old 11-08-12, 10:42 AM
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What is the piping like near your boiler? If you have a way to close one side of the loop with a valve and connect a hose near that location for the air to enter. Then it would force the water towards the open boiler drain.

After you get this thing drained, you should install a drain somewhere low on the system for the next time you need to do this.
 
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Old 11-09-12, 08:49 PM
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Yes pictures if possible.

I too would drain rather than anti-freeze in this case, although anti-freeze might not be a bad idea once the system is back up and running... being an occasional residence, you could have a situation where the boiler shuts down with a problem and you won't be there to monitor. Of course you would/could still have issues with the domestic pipes bursting due to freeze, but at least you won't have to deal with the heating system bursting too...

I've got an adapter I made up... a hose fitting with an air chuck for the compressor hose. To make sure the pipes are drained though you have to make sure you are forcing the air through the zone tubing rather than just through the boiler itself. This is where the pics will help us help you. Make sure to take lots of pics from different angles, well lighted, in focus, and generally NOT cell phone pics.
 
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Old 11-09-12, 09:03 PM
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The only problem with blowing the water up is that at a certain point the water will be spread out thru the pipe with the air holding it. When you remove the air the water will return to the low spot. How much ? Who knows but it might be enough to split a pipe. That's why I was considering low point drain(s)
 
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Old 11-09-12, 09:13 PM
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Agreed... but if that low spot is in a slab, it will be impossible to get a drain in there.

I think the pics might help us out here...
 
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Old 11-09-12, 09:16 PM
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Agreed..otherwise just guessing.
 
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Old 11-12-12, 12:24 PM
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NJ Trooper:

First thanks for the time to respond. This adapter you have made seems to be what I will need. Is it a garden hose size fitting which accepts a compressor hose? Is it possible to see a picture of what you made?

Unfortunately no pics will be available for at least a week since we are still not allowed on the Island since the hurricane! When I finally get into the house I will take lots of pictures.
 
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Old 11-12-12, 04:56 PM
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No, I don't have a pic of the adapter, but I can show you a cute animated GIF of the fitting you will need:


image courtesy Idon'trememberwhereIfoundit.com

Into the NPT threaded end you simply install your male air fitting.

You MIGHT be able to find something already made up for this purpose in the lawn sprinkler section at HD or Lowes... unless they put that stuff all away to make room for Christmas decorations.
 
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Old 11-13-12, 03:32 PM
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Adapter

You can go to an RV dealer and get an adapter that is made for just doing what you want to do. From my experience blowing out a system with air take a LOT of air otherwise it just bubbles through the system. I would recommend using a sprinkler service that blows out underground systems. They usually have a large enough compressor. You want a compressor with high CFM instead of high PSI. Even after doing this I would recommend following the air with antifreeze.
 
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Old 11-13-12, 04:14 PM
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Yeah that's true... I'm spoiled by my big ole compressor. Those little pissant compressors they sell at HD and Lowes won't cut it, you do need to move some air to move the water!

Not a bad idea contacting a lawn sprinkler dude... they are probably yearning for some work this time of year! Just make sure he understands the valving on the system... and doesn't overpressurize and break something.

I didn't look back to see if this has been mentioned, but it should be ...

If you DO add anti-freeze, do NOT use any automotive type! Anti-freeze for boiler systems is PROPYLENE GLYCOL, NOT ETHYLENE GLYCOL! It is made and formulated specifically for the purpose and is NON-TOXIC. If you use the HIGHLY TOXIC Ethylene Glycol and that boiler water should somehow leak back into the potable system (remember that there IS a 'cross connection' between them!) persons that consume that water will probably die a slow and painful death.
 
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Old 11-13-12, 08:06 PM
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I wont be able to hire anyone because no one is allowed on the barrier island. I just found out today that I will be allowed in on saturday (first time since sandy).

How much psi do you think i will need to blow out a 2 bedroom cottage? I will be attempting to do this on saturday. NJ Trooper: where did you find that animation? I cant seem to find the adaptor?
 
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Old 11-13-12, 09:54 PM
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I wont be able to hire anyone because no one is allowed on the barrier island. I just found out today that I will be allowed in on saturday (first time since sandy).
Hmmm... Call local plumbers... My old crew has been allowed on the island so I would think they all are. I will call the crew leader and check in the morning.

You are like where Toms river? It gets funny on the island... Chadwick beach or so?

See the blue truck...LOL










 
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Old 11-13-12, 10:01 PM
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I'm guessing 50-60 psi should do the job. Do you have a compressor picked out ? Take that hose to a place like Home Depot and match the threaded end to a 3/4" hose bib fitting. Do you have power there ? Home Depot has a ton of brass fittings. See link below for a representative fitting. I forget what size air hose is.

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ryId=100637915
 
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Old 11-13-12, 10:32 PM
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PJmax: Thanks for showing me the fitting I'll head over there tomorrow. I will have power a friend is lending me a generator.

Lawrosa: I could throw a rock into chadwich from my house. We are in OB3. If you know someone that could help me out incase I cant get the system cleared I have to do mine and my brothers. Ocean County plumbing is all booked up. I can usually find a Youtube video on how to do everything except for this. First time youtube has failed me!

Thanks for everyones help on here.
 
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Old 11-13-12, 11:06 PM
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I will call my guy tomorrow. I will PM you with info on what I can do to help. Bump this thread tomorrow if no relpy.
 
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Old 11-14-12, 03:30 PM
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How much psi do you think
It's not about PSI as much as it is about CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute).

Even a small compressor can make PSI. You need VOLUME. Which usually means a 20 gallon or so storage tank and a compressor pump that can keep up with the draw.

Can't tell ya how much exactly, I just know that my big ole compressor is big enough. Mine is a 30 gallon tank with 10 CFM at 40 PSI. (meaning that the compressor can deliver 10 CFM continuously at 40 PSI). I think it's like 8 CFM at 90 PSI.

You could probably get by with 6 CFM at 40 PSI I would think.
 
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Old 11-19-12, 02:29 PM
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Well guys everything went well on Saturday!

Finally got to see the house, it was pretty bad. Three feet of water and muck from the bay covering the floors. As I expected.

With the information you guys shared I was well prepared and was able to winterize my heating and hot water system and 4 neighbors systems!! A big thanks to you guys!

Ended up borrowing a buddies "big ole compressor" 25 gallons 8 cfm. (thanks njtrooper)

Had to gut everything at the 4 feet off the slab. Carpets, sheetrock, furniture and kitchen cabinets.

Does anyone have experience with bad floods? Any advice you can share?
 
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Old 11-19-12, 05:02 PM
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Great! I'm glad you were able to get that done, and blessings on you brother for helping your neighbors.

I wish I could offer advice that would help you with the flood damage.
 
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Old 11-19-12, 07:24 PM
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Glad you got it done.

I sent you a PM with contact info for a HVAC/plumbing heating guy. Not too many are allowed on the island from what he states. But since he is in Chadwick beach he can help if anyone needs it.

If you call him tell him Mike sent you.
 
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