View Full Version : OT Winterizing and structures

09-07-2004, 12:31 PM
I'm not fond of OT stuff unless it's really funny http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif but need to draw on the amassed knowledge which this group possesses.

We've got to decide whether or not to winterize (heat turned off) my father-in-laws home and shop (he's in nursing) or maintain it at 55 degrees F (which we have done in the last few years).

We're mostly concerned about existing cracks growing and new cracks forming in the horsehair plaster/lathe walls in the house. The machines will be fine (and no, you can't have the address http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif ).

Winter temps go down to -25F and average out around +20F.


[This message has been edited by nheng (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-07-2004, 12:53 PM
My opinion, FWIW: I don't think heating or not heating will affect the plaster. The horsehair plaster in grandfather's ca. 1757 farmhouse in Maine, without benefit of central heating, survived a couple hundred years of summer/winter cycles without noitciable effect.

09-07-2004, 01:53 PM
You may run into some humidity problems depending on the temperature. The lower the temperature the higher the relative humidity in an unheated space until about -30C.

Also you should make sure you find all "freezables" that could break/leak and cause damage like cans of water based paint etc. Blow out the water lines with compressed air and don't forget to drain the water heater. I wouldn't recommend using the RV antifreeze in the drinking water system, the stuff has a vile taste and takes a long time to purge from the system. Don't forget to dump some of that antifreeze down all the P traps in the plumbing system including any floor drains. Don't forget the toilet bowl and tank.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-07-2004, 01:56 PM
Wreng, I think what you should be most concerned with is mold, and dry rot. once it starts in a home, the smell will drive you out. And the rot gets into the framing.there is also the problem with the mold fungus which is highly allergenic. Up here in the frozen north, unless you intead to abandon a house its neccesary to keep some heat going. Even a space heater wwould work. Doug

09-07-2004, 02:16 PM
Winter humidity in the house tends to run around 10% - 20% with heat running (hot water, radiator), don't know what it is unheated.

We could probably run the heat down a bit more but 55 degrees seemed to insure adequate temp at the perimeter walls which have pipes in them.

The walls have some minor cracks and my wife is worried about them increasing in size or number, requiring repairs before the house goes on the market next year.

Steve Stube
09-07-2004, 02:34 PM
I'm with Evan on the ""freezables"" it's a major concern and so is humidity(contents and the heating system can both suffer). For those two reasons I would vote to maintain some heat but it doesn't have to be 55 degrees. True a lot of thermostats have as a minimum 55 but I have "fixed" a few (by shifting the scale)to allow for maintaining temp in the 35 - 39 degree range to avoid freezing. I visited my Dad in a nursing home yesterday and think I need to make a similar adjustment to his home and shop heating setpoint. Seems like just about the time we can relax a bit from caring for the children, care of the parents kicks in - but I wouldn't have it any other way. This is not a complaint only an observation.

09-07-2004, 04:05 PM
I'd lay money on the cause of any cracks in the walls being due to the foundation shifting rather than just temperature changes. I think your main concern with shutting off the heat is bursting things as Evan covered.

Whether or not you heat the house, the foundation will shift if conditions permit it - such as wrong grade, leaking gutters, spring under the house, earthquake etc. - so cracks from these causes will do their thing whether you heat the house or not.

As noted, problems from humidity can happen. Keep in mind that after a previous cold night cools everything off, the following day's warmer air will encourage any humidity to condense on anything below the dew point, including plaster, fabric, lumber, and TOOLS (oh no!). I usually only have problems with this in late fall and early spring. Depends on your climate.

[This message has been edited by vinito (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-07-2004, 04:19 PM
Thanks for all the input. I think we'll keep the heat on. It has been winterized in the past but the gentleman who did it has retired. If the winterizing is neither done well nor completely, it can get expensive real fast.

The wood and metal shop is packed with wood and the machines show no signs of rust after multiple seasons ... even without any oil or protectant on them. Other areas of the multi-section basement have not fared as well.

Michael Az
09-07-2004, 04:26 PM
CRC makes a really good rust preventative. Wouldn't hurt to get 3 - 4 cans of it and spray down the machines and tools. I think I would go with some heat rather than none. But what do I know, living in this desert where its 65 degrees every day in the winter!

[This message has been edited by Michael Az (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-07-2004, 04:34 PM
If you decide to leave it unheated (I wouldn't) and if the house has natural gas heating of the boiler there should be a condensation drop pipe (trap) in the piping where it connects to the furnace. Make sure you drain it so it doesn't risk breaking the natural gas line.


I see you have decided to keep the heat on, good plan. Too many things to go wrong otherwise.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 09-07-2004).]

09-07-2004, 04:49 PM
Michael: It's pretty disgusting but most of the tools have not been touched in about 3 years and have absolutely no rust on them ! I think that being surrounded by wood helps big time in regulating the humidity spikes which creep in during warmer months.

I couldn't stand it (the dry surfaces) any more and sloshed the SB 9 with oil the last time I checked on things ... even though there was no need for it.

Evan: Thanks for that tip too ... it's the kind of thing that I'm afraid someone might miss.