Hot water heat circulation

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Old 01-08-15, 04:32 PM
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Hot water heat circulation

I will try to be brief, but this is a bit of explaining I need to do first. I own a 1940 two story house with oil fired Hot water cast Iron radiators and one family room with a fin radiator. Recently, I was doing insulating in my basement and sealing up my rim joists. The copper pipes to all of my upstairs radiators run through the basement rim joist area and up the balloon frame cavity's to get upstairs. So in order for me to seal off the rim joist area, but allow the pipes to cut through, what I did was put pipe insulation on the copper,then cut rigid foam to fit in the joist area, and then used spray foam to seal the pipe hole. Now for my dumb question. Would this change the dynamics of my heating system somehow and the way the heat is circulating? My daughters bedroom which is furthest from the oil burner used to be the hardest one to heat. Her radiator was tepid at best even with the upstairs rads being hotter then downstairs naturally because of heat rise. Since I sealed the basement rim joists last week, her room is now extremely hot. I actually turned down the dial that's on her rad which I never previously messed with. The only thing I can think of (which I know is a stretch) is that there is no longer as much draft in the house walls where the upstairs rads pipe run through so maybe the system is more efficient? Just a reminder, balloon style framed homes have a continuous vertical shaft that allow draft(because the vertical joists run continuous from basement to attic with no separation at floors)but if you seal one end of the shaft, it would stop air movement correct? Another thought was that maybe there is less ventilation in the basement for the heater to draw air from so that changed something? I have sealed a LOT of basement air leaks besides the rim joists. My only course of action now is that I will try to direct the water circulation flow by turning some of the valves on the pipes in the basement, but that takes some guess work on how much to turn each valve. Thanks for any reply's on this question.
BTW, you'll see in the photo the expanding spray foam I used was never applied directly to the pipes(which I don't think would cause an issue) but the expanding foam likely did pressurize the store bought pipe insulation against the pipes. Something definitely changed my heat flow because the timing is too coincidental to me. The pipes in the photo are the ones that run to the room getting hotter then usual although each upstairs room seems to have gotten a boost of heat since I insulated. My wife seems to think its a little less warm at the rads downstairs too but I cant tell yet.
 
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Old 01-09-15, 04:41 AM
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You have likely greatly reduced the heat loss from the supply and return lines.
This is a good thing.
Having water pipes behind insulation (on the cold side) is never a good idea.

You will have to be very careful about those pipes freezing if there is a cold cold snap, or power outage.
It is never good practice to have pipes in outside walls, I know you did not put them there, but it's something you have to be mindful of as you continue to improve the thermal resistance of you house.
As you require less heat, the heat emitters will become oversized and they will heat the space quicker, and stay off longer. This can lead to some frozen pipes if the system is off long enough.
 
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Old 01-09-15, 05:30 AM
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IMO to counteract potential of a pipe freezing, do to zone being off too long is to lower the boiler water temperature , ideally to the point were the water flows through the zone all the time without over heating the zone .When insulating a space where a heat pipe pass through make sure to insulate the pipe itself and then wrap it with plastic to prevent cold air hitting the pipe then insulate the space so that inside room air can get to pipe.
 
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Old 01-09-15, 06:25 AM
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TOHeating, you said ive reduced heat loss from the pipes.. but how did that happen? I want to understand this if youll explain because as I mentioned, all I did was seal my basement rim joist area where the pipes ran through to continue upstairs. I already had pipe insulation on them previously in the basement(not inside the wall)so what has changed? Also, this house is 75 yrs old and the pipes to upstairs have always been in the walls. Why should I be more concerend about frozen pipe now when ive not had issues in the past? Did sealing the rim joist area block a small amount of basement heat from entering the wall and I may have created a problem? Thanks.
 
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Old 01-12-15, 03:51 PM
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Think of each of those ballon framed joist cavities as a chimney (cause thats what they end up doing).
By sealing up the basement air from entering this "Chimney" there is goign to be less air movement in that space and therefore the pipes would lose less heat of there surface.

If possible set the main circulator to constantly run, this will help keep the pipes warmer and distribute heat better
 
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Old 01-13-15, 04:06 PM
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Dale, balloon framed homes pose some dangers that you may be aware of, but maybe not...

Speaking from experience, I lived in one for several years.

The biggest danger is that FIRE can spread VERY rapidly! Those 'chimneys' that TO spoke of provide fire a place to run and consume an entire home in a very short time.

Fire professionals have special training courses that deal with balloon framed homes.

You would be very wise to consult a professional that understands balloon framing, and what it takes to mitigate the dangers. In general it involves installing proper FIRE STOPS in each and every wall cavity. There can be no shortcuts taken with this work. It must be done CORRECTLY and COMPLETELY. Or, take your chances.

IMHO, the best solution is to have fire stops installed at every level, and blown in cellulose (with fire retardant (which it all has)) insulation installed.

A plus to this is that I would bet you could reduce the heat loss of your home by HALF or more!

I'm telling you this because if you don't know it, you need to know it, for you and your families safety.

Blocking the flow from the basement side allows the cold air from the attic to pour in and fill those wall cavities.

Getting back to what TO has said about decreasing the heat lost from those pipes, I might tend to disagree a bit... because...

Although you've insulated the pipes (I presume you managed to slide the insulation down from the attic or up from the basement) the fact is that the wall cavity they run through is going to be MUCH colder due to the cold air from the attic pouring in and filling that cavity.

You end up with much more differential between the pipes and the surrounding air, which means a HIGHER heat loss in the pipes. You may have insulated the pipes, and this would probably counter the colder surrounding air, but at best, I think it's no better than a 'wash'.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 04:08 PM
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By the way... the 'Great Stuff' foam that you used is NOT rated for use as a fire stop. Nor is the foam board that you blocked the wall cavity with.

They make special stuff for that.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 04:13 PM
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Would this change the dynamics of my heating system somehow and the way the heat is circulating?
Absolutely!

By stopping (or greatly slowing) the massive flow through those wall cavities up into the attic, you've probably greatly reduced the heat loss in the entire home. Even though the cavities are probably still open in the attic, and there may be colder air inside those cavities, by stopping or slowing the AIR FLOW you've reduced the heat loss (even though the walls may be colder).

Air movement and in/ex filtration causes greater heat loss than lack of insulation. It's like having the windows open in the winter.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 04:16 PM
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no longer as much draft in the house walls where the upstairs rads pipe run through so maybe the system is more efficient?
Not changing the 'efficiency' of the heating system, rather reducing the heat loss in the home is keeping the heat in rather than getting sucked out and up into the attic then out the attic vents.

The heating system is doing just what it has always done, but you are not 'dumping' the heated air right back out again.
 
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Old 01-13-15, 04:26 PM
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Some light reading for you Dale...............

OH, one more point about that Great Stuff... it is quite flammable! And as you will read in the articles below it will create toxic fumes when it burns.

Fire Stop Construction | Ask the Builder

Balloon Framing | Old House Web

What is Fireblocking and Why Does My 100-Year Old Wood-Frame House Need It? - King William Association | San Antonio, TX

Fires in Balloon-Frame Construction | Firefighter Nation
 
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Old 01-14-15, 06:02 AM
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NJ Trooper, thanks for the replies.I am fully aware of fire potential in balloon frame construction but since I am not gutting and renovating this house, that information is only a reminder and nothing more. To open the plaster walls throughout the house is clearly a huge undertaking. About the foam board in the rim joist, I also know thats not a fire retardent, and Im still working on covering the foam board with pieces of drywall which is code. The pipes in the walls do not have insulation on them, although someone appears to have stuffed batt in the cavities many years ago. Likely as far as they could reach up from the basement and maybe some in the balloon cavity in the attic down. Let me ask you, will I get much change in heat loss effeciency if I seal the balloon frame cavitys in the attic now so both top and bottom are sealed from draft?
 
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Old 01-14-15, 07:00 AM
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that information is only a reminder and nothing more. To open the plaster walls throughout the house is clearly a huge undertaking
All I can do is advise what is safe and prudent. What you choose to do is up to you ultimately.

The pipes in the walls do not have insulation on them,
Well... that's not good. By stopping the warm air flow in that wall cavity, you may (probably will at some point) have problems with those pipes freezing.

will I get much change in heat loss effeciency if I seal the balloon frame cavitys in the attic now so both top and bottom are sealed from draft?
It might help... but without proper insulation in the wall cavities, they are still going to be cold and the risk of freezing pipes still very real.

someone appears to have stuffed batt in the cavities many years ago. Likely as far as they could reach up from the basement and maybe some in the balloon cavity in the attic down.
So the batts have no doubt slowed the air flow some, but fiberglas batting still allows air flow through it. It's doubtful that those batts are doing much in the way of insulating.

What about pulling the batting out and renting a machine at HD to blow in cellulose insulation into the cavities, and then sealing the top and bottom? You still won't have proper fire stopping, but it's better than nothing I guess. The blown in cellulose IS fire retardant and bugs and critters don't like it because of the borax that it's treated with.
 
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