Portable heater in a crawlspace

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  #1  
Old 10-27-13, 07:38 PM
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Portable heater in a crawlspace

I wasn't sure where to post this, since it involved many different aspects of the house. However, my major concern is electrical safety, so here it goes.

I have a bathroom above unheated crawlspace, which I insulated as much as I could. It gets down to -15 in the winter, although rarely. I was planning to eventually brake the wall from the basement and add a supply duct, however, for now, I'd like to simply put a portable heater and throw an extension cord through the hole in the basement wall. I could place it on a brick, since the ground is covered in plastic. What other precautions should I take? I am planning to get this heater since it's above the ground and has a thermostat.

http://www.hayneedle.com/product/com...lityheater.cfm
 
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Old 10-27-13, 07:44 PM
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Very poor idea.
Space heater draw a lot of power and should not be connected to an extension cord.
A crawl space is a moist area and could cause the thermostat to fail.
Wrap the pipes with heat tape and insulate them.
 
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Old 10-27-13, 08:21 PM
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I agree with Joe, very bad idea. Space heaters should ONLY be used where they can be seen at all times. You CAN use electric heat tape and insulate the pipes. Don't forget the traps on any drain pipes as well.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 05:53 AM
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I already had the supply pipes insulated with foam and some parts with fabric insulators.does this mean I get to remove all of this and do it all over.would it be cheaper and more efficient just to add a supply resister as I planned in the beginning?
 
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Old 10-28-13, 07:35 AM
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would it be cheaper and more efficient just to add a supply resister as I planned in the beginning?
There's a lot of discussion in heating/insulation fields about how to insulate crawl spaces and it seems to be a regional thing. If you add a supply register, you'll also need some kind of return as well. You'll also want to insulate and vapor barrier the floors and walls of your crawlspace and remove the insulation on the ceiling of the crawl space. It basically becomes a heated area of your house.

Cheaper/easier? You'll have to figure that one out depending on your space.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 09:00 AM
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Walls and floor are already done. I just need to figure out addl way to keep pipes from freezing on those rare, but dangerous days and nights.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 09:48 AM
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I just need to figure out addl way to keep pipes from freezing on those rare, but dangerous days and nights.
I already had the supply pipes insulated with foam and some parts with fabric insulators.does this mean I get to remove all of this and do it all over.would it be cheaper and more efficient just to add a supply resister as I planned in the beginning?
If the pipes are exposed, they should have had heat trace installed before the insulation. Initially it would be cheaper to just install a vent pour heat down there to keep pipes from freezing, but long term, removing the pipe insulation and installing heat trace/new pipe insulation and doing it right would be much less expensive.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 12:55 PM
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Walls and floor are already done.
If the walls of your crawlspace are insulated and there's a vapor barrier installed, you may be good to go as is. If the floor you're referring to is the floor above the crawlspace, then removing the insulation under that floor would give you more insurance against a frozen pipe.

Have you had a pipe freeze or are you just trying to prevent that from happening?
 
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Old 10-28-13, 04:09 PM
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I only had one winter since the the bathroom was installed and I was shutting the pipes off as a precaution a couple of times. I have a remote temperature sensor down there and it showed 28 F a couple of times. The pipes must be a little warmer, since they are insulated too. I also removed some of the insulation above along the pipes to expose the floor.

The problem is that the pipes are ran very close to the outside wall, passing the exterior hatch, which I also insulated, but I'm sure it leaks a bit. That's where I was planning to install a heater, or an electric baseboard, which I have ready to go, using the existing wiring in the crawlspace.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 05:47 PM
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That's where I was planning to install a heater, or an electric baseboard, which I have ready to go, using the existing wiring in the crawlspace.
You can use that wiring to power heat tape, but not to power an electric heater. Besides not being safe it would be very inefficient. But it sounds like you really don't need to add any power-consuming appliances there.

Years ago, my mother had some work done under a save-energy program offered by her POCO. It was all insulation and maybe some sealing, IIRC.

One of the improvements was to insulate under the floor. That winter, for the first time since that house was built, the pipes froze. The insulators had, of course, installed the insulation directly under the floor and above the pipes.

When they came back, they tore the insulation out of the area above the pipes, as you've already done. They hung a fairly wide length of black plastic there instead - wide enough to swag under the pipes. Then they half-filled that length of plastic with loose cellulose and sealed up the ends.

From then on, the foundation vents stayed open year-round and the pipes never froze again.

No heaters, no heat tape - just insulation installed intelligently.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 06:35 PM
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I have a remote temperature sensor down there and it showed 28 F a couple of times.
Why is it so cold in the crawl space? If your crawl space is ventilated, close the vents during the cold winter months.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 07:11 PM
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They are now, and have a few layers of foam boards closing the openings, but when it gets -16 outside, that's not enough. I'm thinking of also breaking through the basement wall and let it share some of that warm basement air.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 09:22 PM
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I'm thinking of also breaking through the basement wall and let it share some of that warm basement air.
That should ratchet your heating bill up noticeably. Keeping the crawlspace separate, and insulating it as such, should keep your operating costs much lower.
 
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