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Old 02-21-2016, 10:45 PM   #1
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Snow bird home monitoring

Okay, for all our snow birding southern neighbors in Canada and the northern "outside" US states. Does anyone do any type home monitoring for freeze type damage?

We still have three, four years to go until our snow birding starts. The plan now is, summers and fall in Alaska and winters and spring in Washington and all points East and South. We have a boiler with hot water base board. I can't see draining the system and letting the interior get down to -20 F during a cold snap. I do have two daughters, (that owe me big time) living up here to call a plumber, heating company if need be.

My question is this. Does anyone have any real world experience with a good wireless, remote "frost/heat off, leak" alarm? Over the years we have done many month, month and half trips and haven't worried to much about it. With being gone six months at time I know I will worry. Thanks, Scott

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Old 02-21-2016, 11:10 PM   #2
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I use the Nest thermostat where you can go on line and monitor the heat as well as operate it from your smartphone. In addition you can also get the related smoke/fire detector and monitor it also. It will send you messages in case of trouble and turn off the HVAC system in case of fire.
See here https://store.nest.com/product/therm...paign=nestlabs
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:13 PM   #3
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There is also a water monitoring system that will shut off the water in case of a leak, but it is not internet connected. I have a whole house radiant system with in floor/ceiling water pipes, one leak would be a disaster.
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:02 AM   #4
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There is also a water monitoring system that will shut off the water in case of a leak, but it is not internet connected. I have a whole house radiant system with in floor/ceiling water pipes, one leak would be a disaster.
Jim, I've seen the Nest system at Home Depot, have you had a good experience with it? Looked at the Nest site but did not see a water shut off system. Having a fail safe to turn off the water for the heating system would be a major blessing. By the way, Happy belated birthday. Scott

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Old 02-22-2016, 01:25 AM   #5
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You'll want to read this before investing in the Nest system.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/14/fa...eeze.html?_r=0
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Old 02-22-2016, 02:50 AM   #6
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You should also check with your insurance company about the requirements for a vacant house to keep your insurance valid. News articles have told stories about people who were away from their home in winter and had water damage - insurance not valid. You need to have someone inspect the home on a regular basis. I have heard that some insurance companies require daily monitoring of the home while you are away.
Just saying??
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:48 AM   #7
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Jim, I've seen the Nest system at Home Depot, have you had a good experience with it? Looked at the Nest site but did not see a water shut off system. Having a fail safe to turn off the water for the heating system would be a major blessing. By the way, Happy belated birthday. Scott

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Sorry for the confusion, that is why I posted a second comment. the Nest Thermostat and Smoke alarm work flawlessly, in fact the smoke does a monthly check and sends you a text. I have one of the early thermostats, maybe 4 years now, no issues.

The water system is separate and not affiliated with Nest. It is electrical with battery back up. If interested send me a p/m for details on it. The Nest info is available on line.
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:58 AM   #8
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Go over to rv.net and ask the same question in the snowbird forum, better yet just do a search. Many folks use many types of monitoring systems, I've read no complaints about any of them, requardless of price. I was going to go with one of the land line based DIY units but the neighbors volunteered, I also turned off the water.
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Old 02-22-2016, 07:01 AM   #9
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My heat needs water source so that is not an option. Most radiator type needs refill source, in fact mine has a low water cut off.
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:01 AM   #10
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Very useful thread
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:28 AM   #11
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unfortunately you cannot prepare for everything. I had our house built with shutoffs for hot and cold water. My furnace has a water fill device before the shutoffs. A good friend of mine that is a plumber told me to place a couple of electric cube heaters in our house when on winter vacation and to turn them down so they never come on till such time as a furnace failure. A person should still have someone check on the house occasionally or have an electronic monitoring system. Just this last Christmas we had a zone valve for our house (we only have one zone) fail the night before we left, got out the electric heater and had plumber come next day. Doesn't take long for a freeze up in Alaska (this year may have been an exception).
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:54 AM   #12
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unfortunately you cannot prepare for everything. I had our house built with shutoffs for hot and cold water. My furnace has a water fill device before the shutoffs. A good friend of mine that is a plumber told me to place a couple of electric cube heaters in our house when on winter vacation and to turn them down so they never come on till such time as a furnace failure. A person should still have someone check on the house occasionally or have an electronic monitoring system. Just this last Christmas we had a zone valve for our house (we only have one zone) fail the night before we left, got out the electric heater and had plumber come next day. Doesn't take long for a freeze up in Alaska (this year may have been an exception).
Yeah it’s kind of spooky how zone valves always seem to fail on holidays. Running three zones, so I try to keep a couple of spares available. Good idea on the cube heaters never thought of that. The kids do come over to check on the house when we travel out of state, just looking at ideas to make everyone’s life a little easier. Something like the Nest would be nice for a heads up before the pipes freeze solid. Had that happen once on vacation, luckily no pipes burst. Having Juneau weather today, wind, sleet and rain. Scott

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Old 02-22-2016, 11:55 AM   #13
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I use a freeze alarm from Freeze, Water and Temperature Alarms | Protected Home. I have a shut-off valve above and below the feed to the boiler so I can shut off the water to the house but leave the feed to the boiler on. And I have some anti-freeze that the plumber calls "no-burst" in the boiler.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Sorry for the confusion, that is why I posted a second comment. the Nest Thermostat and Smoke alarm work flawlessly, in fact the smoke does a monthly check and sends you a text. I have one of the early thermostats, maybe 4 years now, no issues.

The water system is separate and not affiliated with Nest. It is electrical with battery back up. If interested send me a p/m for details on it. The Nest info is available on line.
PM sent Scott

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Old 02-22-2016, 12:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ditchrider View Post
I use a freeze alarm from Freeze, Water and Temperature Alarms | Protected Home. I have a shut-off valve above and below the feed to the boiler so I can shut off the water to the house but leave the feed to the boiler on. And I have some anti-freeze that the plumber calls "no-burst" in the boiler.
That is the system that I was looking at, do you like it? Never heard of "no-burst" I"ll check into that. Thanks, Scott

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Old 02-22-2016, 12:15 PM   #16
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Here is the link to what I had installed
Water Leak Detection System | Flo Logic
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:25 PM   #17
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Here is the link to what I had installed
Water Leak Detection System | Flo Logic
Some great ideas and information so far, Thanks Scott

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Old 02-22-2016, 12:50 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
You should also check with your insurance company about the requirements for a vacant house to keep your insurance valid. News articles have told stories about people who were away from their home in winter and had water damage - insurance not valid. You need to have someone inspect the home on a regular basis. I have heard that some insurance companies require daily monitoring of the home while you are away.
Just saying??
Thanks John I'll have to look into that also. Our place in Washington is a condominium that is empty most of the year, single family home might be different. Scott

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Old 02-22-2016, 12:56 PM   #19
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Yes, my Freeze Alarm has been trouble free. In addition to the alarm feature I can call home anytime to see what the indoor temperature is. My invoice from the heating contractor lists the boiler antifreeze as "Enviro-Frost Antifreeze." It is made for boilers. Eric
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:13 PM   #20
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We are still pretty low tech for monitoring home systems. I have a camera from my PC pointed to a thermometer. I can remote into my PC using my phone or iPad and check the temperature. Since I do not have a light over the thermometer I can only do this during daylight hours.

We always shut off our water supply at the meter, even in the summer. I realize some of you cannot do that, but for the rest it is an easy solution. Last week we stopped into our local plumber, on another matter, and mentioned our shutting off the water, he agreed it was the best thing to do. Even if our water heater were to leak, the 50 gallons would get to the floor drain, but that would be the end of the leaking.

Consumer Reports did a recent review of the home monitoring systems; they actually like a model from Samsung better than the Nest. You may already know that Nest is owned by Google.
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