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Old 12-13-2011, 03:12 PM   #61
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Tadpole,
Your heating ducts wouldn't be used to heat your water pipes, at least not to any level you'd notice.
I'm not so sure. The hot air in the ducts is ~ 100F, and those ducts have a lot of surface area of metal. I think they would give off significant heat. If not, why do they recc insulating them?

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It occurred to me that when the house was built gas was so cheap that people compensated for lost heat in the crawl space by setting the thermostat higher.
Just to be technically correct/nit-picky - you don't compensate for lost heat by raising the thermostat. The furnace will just run longer at the same thermostat setting to make up for the lost heat.

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Old 12-13-2011, 03:35 PM   #62
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I'm not so sure. The hot air in the ducts is ~ 100F, and those ducts have a lot of surface area of metal. I think they would give off significant heat. If not, why do they recc insulating them?
-ERD50
Back when this house was built, I'm sure the main concern was packing all the utility items in the smallest space possible to look tidy vs. energy efficiency.
Typically, the heat cycles on/off only 4-5 times an hour and you can't butt the water pipes next to the air ducts to be a direct energy transfer, especially since there was enough space to insulate both the duct and pipes. I can't see it making that much of a difference to the water temp. Recommendations for insulating ducts and pipes that I know has only been done for the last 25+ years and people still don't do it today.
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Old 12-13-2011, 03:54 PM   #63
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Back when this house was built, I'm sure the main concern was packing all the utility items in the smallest space possible to look tidy vs. energy efficiency.
Typically, the heat cycles on/off only 4-5 times an hour and you can't butt the water pipes next to the air ducts to be a direct energy transfer, especially since there was enough space to insulate both the duct and pipes. I can't see it making that much of a difference to the water temp. Recommendations for insulating ducts and pipes that I know has only been done for the last 25+ years and people still don't do it today.
I'm not saying it was a specific design consideration. I'm just saying that I would expect un-insulated ducts to give off a fair amount of heat. Maybe enough, depending on a lot of variables (how sealed up the crawl is being a major one), to keep the crawl above freezing in his locale. If historically, it worked, they just kept doing it that way.

Then some young whipper-snapper with modern ideas comes along and insulates the ducts ( that's not how we do it 'round these parts, sonny ) and upsets the old apple cart. Might get frozen pipes. Might not.

A wireless thermometer will tell us more than we can guess from here.

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Old 12-13-2011, 05:07 PM   #64
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Not meaning to interrupt Tadpoles post...but I forgot to update everyone with what I did. I have not done anything yet about my crawl space. There are enough technical issues...that I'm a bit apprehensive about creating another problem.

I think I am going to lay 12 mil plastic, overlapped by 2 feet and taped to the sides first. Second, I'm going to put more insulation on the duct work and make sure there are no leaking ducts. I'll start with this first. Thanks to all that helped contribute to this thread.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:40 PM   #65
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It sounds like you have fairly easy access to the water pipes. Additionally, your area doesn't get extremely cold for long periods. An easy (and cheap!) solution might be to simply wrap the water pipes with electric heat tape. Then simply plug it in when you are worried.

Or you could get fancy and rig it to a thermostat...
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:41 PM   #66
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Thanks everyone. I now realize I need to describe the "crawl space". I do not have a basement. The house is a rancher a little smaller than 1200 sq. ft. The house sits about three foot off the ground. The space between the house and the dirt is what I am calling the crawl space. The outside walls between the ground and the house are concrete. The crawl space is well vented (nine vents, 3 on each of 3 sides).

The workers put in a moisture barrier between the ground and the interior of the crawl space (really thick black plastic). They insulated the heating ducts and put insulation at the top of the crawl space next to the floor of the house. The pipes are also covered with this new insulation so they no longer visible.

So what existed before was a crawl space with an old moisture barrier on the ground and no other insulation.The house is small and the area is small with heat ducts around the outer edge. That is why I thought maybe the lost heat we were experiencing was keeping the crawl space a little warmer than it now is.

It looks like we will just need to drip the water inside the house until I can get temperatures and resolve any problem.

Again, thanks for the input.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:49 PM   #67
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Unless it is significantly (ie below zero) I wouldn't worry about dripping the faucets.

To add on to my previous post, a small space heater might also do the trick. But I don't think you'll have an issue in any of the weather common to your area. he house has been there since the 50s. If there was going to be a problem, it would've popped up by now.
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:41 PM   #68
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Looked up your avg winter low temps, 35 degrees, but you hit 8 degrees in 1989. Here in Chicago, when it's below 0 degrees for several days or weeks is when they warn us to trickle the water lines in the lowest faucet to be safe. I'm not sure if all your water lines run thru this crawl space, but it may be better if you make some insulated covers for these vents and cover them during the winter months. I think you should check your hot water line temps for the areas that run in and out of the crawl space to see if you're at 120 degrees and any differences you have between them.

Every time I see this topic pop up, it makes me look since installing a new vapor barrier and insulating my crawl space is next on my to do list, I procrastinate since I'm doing it myself! I just added insulation to my hot water lines in the basement after reading your last post.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:16 PM   #69
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They insulated the heating ducts and put insulation at the top of the crawl space next to the floor of the house. The pipes are also covered with this new insulation so they no longer visible.
So the pipes are insulated from the crawl space? This means that they will be getting some heat from the floor above. Obviously, not all that much since heat rises, but the insulation will keep them closer to floor temperature than the crawl temperature. I really doubt you will have any issues at all.

Put that remote thermometer near the pipes. That will seal the deal.

I've got this one - it's great, I've got three remotes. Others may be just as good.

http://www.amazon.com/Crosse-Technol...ef=pd_sim_hg_2


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Old 12-13-2011, 11:10 PM   #70
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After we'd been in our house awhile I was walking outside and felt warm air coming out of the crawlspace. It turned out one of the ducts had fallen open. Glad I noticed.
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Old 12-24-2011, 02:10 PM   #71
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I'm well into the cleanup/insulation of my crawl space efforts to remove/reduce the smell and mustiness and thought I'd share what I've done and results so far:

The entry to my crawl space has 2 -24" openings in the cement wall from the basement, only 1 accessible and the other has HVAC ducts and gas pipe running through it. Crawl space is ~18' X 21' with a clay mud floor and has mouse infestation (more than 3 yrs ago), eaten rodent bait bags and an empty rodent poison gas canister with old plastic sheeting eaten through in multiple places. There's duct running through this space, but no vents and a cold water pipe for the garden hose. One of the smaller HVAC trunks was attached only by a couple of roofing nails driven at 45 degrees directly thru them and of course, had fallen off the joists and dropped 3-4" from the ceiling I had to reattach these with the proper bracing. Wearing a filtration respirator, I removed all the nests I found, 4-6 skeletal remains (nothing like removing a mouse skeleton and seeing all the hair laying around the carcass) and noticed all the clay was damp/wet only under the plastic sheet, black mold/mildew where it was chewed through. Where the sheet was exposed the clay wasn't wet and along the cement walls it wasn't wet. I removed the plastic sheet and decided to put a small 20pt dehumidifier in the space and set it to 4.5-5 on the dial (what I usually set it for the basement in the summer). My house seems to be sitting on wet/damp ground as my humidity levels always tend to read on the higher end all year long. I haven't needed to use extra humidifiers in the winter yet since I've been here. Temp today is 39 high, 53% humidity. Yesterday low 40's, and humidity 83%. After 1 day, I got about 2" of water collected, 2nd day about 3/4" and the wet top layer from the clay disappeared and the smell reduced dramatically. After raking the clay, and removing all the old rotted wood and debris, I laid down 4 mil plastic sheeting loose with no adhesive and fortunately no cutting, added pipe insulation, sprayed expanding foam around my sill plate gaps (~1") and notches in the wood for the sill plate bolts (up to 2"x2"), only thing between crawl and outside was a layer of roofing felt and brick. I waited 2 days and checked the dehumidifier tank and no water collected, checked under the plastic and it lightly damp, but not wet looking clay!

Also have noticed an increase in the basement temperature (it's unfinished, cement walls), but this may also be due to filling and sealing all the open holes left along the sill plates when this house was built (1963). I have a huge tarp that's thicker than 4 mil to lay on top of the plastic sheeting if needed, 2" rigid foam boards for the exterior walls. I may also insulate the HVAC duct too. I plan on leaving this dehumidifier in the crawl space. I also have many rolls of new plastic sheeting that's 3 mil or less, but not sure if additional layers of plastic will make a difference for me.
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