I got this message from our site yesterday, and I though it might be of interest to some of you
Water line coming into the house froze up due to two (2) days of record setting cold weather. Water lines
meet code for depth, but the frost level went deeper than ever before. I was wondering if anyone makes a
recirculation pump to attach to the cold water inlet inside the house that can keep the water moving on the
coldest of winter nights. (I have been without water for two weeks because the freeze level has frozen the
pipes solid for that amount of time.) I was wanting something which would be atmospheric temperature
activated so it would only run when the temperature dropped below 10 degrees or so. This appliance would
be great also for when I am away from the house for several days at a time during
the winter. (Leaving the faucet dripping continuously did not work this time and is not the best of ideas when away.)
If you have a product or suggestion I would be interested in hearing back from you. Thanks for your time and interest.
And here is my response:
Although it’s possible to wire up a system that will cause the Chilipepper to cycle water through your water pipes, it’s not very easy and I’m not sure it would offer you the freeze protection you are looking for.
For one thing, it’s very unlikely that your plumbing layout will allow hot water to circulate through all of your pipes, leaving some branches of your plumbing system unprotected.
Let’s take a look at how the Chilipepper behaves in various situations…
To activate the Chilipepper the control wires are shorted together momentarily and then separated. Usually this is accomplished by pressing a momentary contact button and releasing it. The Chilipepper doesn’t do anything until the button is released, and then it starts its cycle.
The first thing it does is to check the temperature of the water inside the pump. If the water in the pump is over 96 degrees the pump will turn on for a moment and then shut off to let you know the water is still hot from a previous use.
If the water is less than 96 degrees the pump turns on and the microcontroller keeps checking the water temperature inside the pump until it detects an increase of 3 to 12 degrees depending on the sensitivity setting.
If the button is pressed and held in for more than 15 seconds the pump begins to run two short bursts, about 1/2 second each and repeats about every 15 seconds until the button is released or the short is removed.
If the microcontroller does not detect a sufficient increase in temperature to shut off the pump, then it will automatically shut off after 3 minutes.
Another way of controlling the Chilipepper is thought the 110 volt power. Normally turning the power on and off to the Chilipepper won’t make it do anything. It won’t activate unless the control wires are used. However, if you connect a 100uf capacitor across the control wires, it will turn on when the power comes on. To turn it on again the power must be turned off and then back on.
What you would need to do is to have an outdoor thermostat activate something that would close a set of contacts for more than 10 milliseconds and less than 15 seconds about every 20 to 30 minutes. The contacts would be connected to the chilipepper control wires.
Another way would be to use the 100 uf capacitor across the terminals and then turn the outlet on for 3 minutes or longer every 20 to 30 minutes. The outlet will need to be switched off for a moment in order to activate the Chilipepper when the outlet turns back on.
You might want to consider using one of those warm water circulating systems like the Autocirc or Watts systems. With those types of systems all you would need to do is have the outlet switch on and stay on as long as the outside temperature is below freezing.