Antifreeze in Heating Pipes: Just For Fun Off Topic  -- Current Events Health Happiness Discussion Forum and Review Antifreeze in Heating Pipes: Just For Fun Off Topic -- Current Events Health Happiness Discussion Forum

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 12-31-2006, 12:44 Post: 138406
ncrunch32



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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

My Mother's house has had the same antifreeze in the closed system heating pipes since my folks built it around 1980. The antifreeze was put in because the pipes ran through the garage where there was a potential for freezing. A plumber is now telling my sister that the antifreeze should be replaced and a new anti-flowback valve installed. He tested the antifreeze and told her it has become acidic. He verbally told my sister this could be done for about $1200 (would take 4 hours) although he did not put the price in writing. This sounds way too high a price to me. Does antifreeze like this ever go bad?






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 12-31-2006, 13:38 Post: 138407
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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

If automotive experience is applicable it seems likely that the antifreeze may lose it's anti-corrosion properties and allow rust to flourish. After years of circulation it's pH has almost certainly changed but that doesn't mean it's out of an acceptable range. It might be easy to get some pH strips or a pH test kit and test but you'd need to know what it should be. Some google research might offer recommendations and it would probably be wise to call around to get other opinions and estimates before committing. $1200 seems like a lot for a job like that, but what do I know?






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 12-31-2006, 16:15 Post: 138409
earthwrks

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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

NC: From the little Googling I did on this, NOT having a backflow preventor is a very serious thing to prevent contaminating the water source. From what I read, if the the supply pressure drops by any amount compared to the heating system's, a backflow condition will arise which effectively siphons out the system contents into the supply (well or city water) and contaminating it. Not good! The info I read put this situation on par with leaving a garden hose connected to a hose bib lying in a cesspool. A drop in pressure will siphon cesspool water back into the system. Therefore a vacuum breaker would be needed to prevent such. (A vacuum breaker will not suffice on the heating system).

So IMHO if the plumber did find the pH was low it could be that the system was diluted from backflowing over the years, not just old and degraded.

As far as what the plumber will do for the $1200...that seems like one of those situations where he opens a valve, walks away for 3 and half hours (and makes money too somewhere else) then takes a half hour to install the valve. But I'm jis' sayin' I don't think this will completely empty the system.

I'd ask him if he going to do the above, or is he going to power purge the system using something other (pump?) than the water supply to fill it.

This might be something you can do yourself.






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 12-31-2006, 16:58 Post: 138410
ncrunch32



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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

Thanks Ken and EW for the comments. Since the garage the pipes went through is now a finished room, maybe the best thing to do is just purge the antifreeze and have water in the pipes. There is not an immediate rush to do this so we have some time to think.






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 12-31-2006, 18:17 Post: 138411
hardwood

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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

I don't know anything about heating system antifreeze. I'm just wondering is the old stuff toxic? If so does the plumber haul it away and properly dispose of it as part of the 1200.00 service? Frank.






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 12-31-2006, 19:43 Post: 138412
earthwrks

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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

I nfogot to mention what Frank did about disposal of the bad stuff. You could be opening Pandora's Box if you let too many know about what you have as far as it could be considered hazardous waste and the cost to dispose of it could be expensive. The plumber may tell you he is going to get "dispose" of it but I have to wonder just how: down the drain or is it going into barrels to be refined or recycled like automotive places do (or is it going back to his house and he dumps it on the ground and charges you "disposal fee"?).

To me this is like letting the government know you have plutonium in your basement and you'd like to know how if you can just flush it down the toilet. DOH!






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 12-31-2006, 23:24 Post: 138413
ncrunch32



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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

Good points Hardwood and EW. I imagine there is only a few gallons of this toxic waste. I have previously dealt with asbestos removal so I understand some of the problems with this type of stuff. I may just call up my Italian family connections and get their advice Wink yeah right






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 01-01-2007, 00:08 Post: 138414
earthwrks

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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

I worked in the asbestos field too back in '88 as an inspector and industrial hygienist when the Feds (EPA) were really clamping down on the stuff when it came to removal and management. I hear it has really been relaxed too nowadays for homeowners anyway. As far as disposal of the green stuff, I'd look for a auto service station who recycles it.






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 01-01-2007, 08:45 Post: 138418
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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

Typically they used ethanol as the antifreeze in the old heating systems. That is why they were not particularly concerned about the mixing with the household water. Is there anyway to know what they used? Is the old company still around? If it is ethanol ..... you see where I am going....

It is good to place the backflow preventor on the line even if there is not a antifreeze in it. The line becomes stagnet and then you can have bacteria. Normally you will use a descaler and a anticorrosion agent in the line even if it has no antifreeze.






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 01-01-2007, 12:22 Post: 138420
HuckMeat

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 Antifreeze in Heating Pipes

If I read correctly, that prices includes installing a new backflow preventer, implying that there is already one on it? I would expect that it would.

These systems are typically maxed out pressure at around 15-25 psi. It's unlikely that backflow would occur, but having a working preventer is mandatory, and code in most places.

My system (installed 2 years ago) has the non-toxic "RV" type antifreeze installed in it. Automotive antifreeze will screw up most boilers, plus it's toxic. It's pretty dilute - In 7200 sf of heated area(house + garage, with the antifreeze in it because I heat the garage too), I think there is about 10 gallons total of the antifreeze, of course mixed with a whole bunch of water.

The price seems high. I'd expect to see how much was for the backflow valve and how much for antifreeze, but shop around. Is this an infloor system, or baseboard radiators? www.radiantdirect.com might have some manuals on flushing if you were inclined to DIY, but since you don't know what the old stuff is, it's probably better to hire it out.






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