Frozen Steam Coils: How Do You Prevent This?

Regardless if you have steam coils or steam distributing (non-freeze) coil, you can freeze ANY coil.  When freezes happen, everyone immediately looks to the steam coil as the cause.  When in fact, there are numerous reasons that must be looked at well before the coil.

Freezes generally happen in older systems, however if your new system is not maintained properly or correctly installed, your steam coil can and will freeze.  For instance, you’d be surprised at how many times dampers are left open, controls fail, freezestats don’t work, etc.Steam Coils

In a Standard Steam or Steam Distributing Coil, a freeze-up can occur when condensate freezes within the tubes of the steam coil.  The two most common reasons for freezing steam coils are the steam trap and the vacuum breaker.  The function of steam trap is to remove the condensate as soon as it forms.  Condensate usually collects in the lowest part of the coil.  If your steam trap isn’t installed properly, that condensate will lay in the coil and it will inevitably freeze as soon as it sees outside air.  The vacuum breaker also helps clear the condensate, minimizes water hammers, and helps with uneven temperatures. This must be installed on the control valve and always above the steam trap.

Unfortunately, there are no ways to determine exactly where your steam coil will freeze.  And a common misnomer is that the condensate turns to ice and the expansion is what causes the tubes of the coil to pop.  In reality, it’s the pressure that builds up between freeze points.

Here’s couple tips in your coil design that can help prevent your standard steam and steam distributing coils from freezing:

  • Standard steam coils should NEVER see any outside air below 40 degrees.  If it does, steam distributing is the only way to go!
  • 5/8” OD Steam distributing coils over 72” long are recommended to have a dual supply
  • 1” OD Steam distributing coils over 120” long are recommended to have a dual supply
  • Make sure your steam coil is pitched if possible.  This slopes the condensate to the return connection making it easier to remove the condensate

Give Capital Coil & Air a try on your next project. Our engineering, pricing and service is the best in the industry!

RELATED POSTS

Heating Season Will Soon Be Upon Us

Commercial Steam Coils; Lengths & Controls

Types of Steam Coils


HEATING SEASON WILL SOON BE UPON US

The real ability and competency in selecting hot water coils or any other heating coil is to know and understand the products that are available. Our goal here is to help simplify your selection process. Just as you’d spend time researching cars before a purchase, you want to be as educated of a buyer as possible!Hot Water Coil

HOT WATER COILS

The HVAC industry classifies coils as “Hot Water” if they are (1) or (2) rows deep, and “Chilled Water” if the coil is (3) to (10) rows deep. One important fact to remember is that whether the water is hot or cold, a water coil is still just a water coil. Just because you do not need as many rows for hot water applications, all water coils are built the same. Tubes can be 5/8 ” copper or 1/2 ” copper, and water can travel through the coil’s tubes at temperatures up to 200˚F. Capital Coil’s selection program is very user-friendly and can greatly assist in your selection process.

STANDARD STEAM COILS

While steam coils look very similar to water coils, the construction and circuiting of the coil are usually very different. Specifically, the brazing for the tubes and headers has a higher percentage of silver solder in the brazing. The tubes are generally thicker (.025”), and the circuiting of the coil minimizes the passes to allow for easy condensate removal. Unless you have (2) PSI or (5) PSI steam, hot water coils and steam coils are not interchangeable! Steam pressure is extremely important to take into account.

STEAM DISTRIBUTING COILS  “NON-FREEZE”

The construction of a “non-freeze” coil is completely different than that of a water coil or standard steam coil. Steam Distributing coils are manufactured as a tube within a tube. This application should always be used when the entering air temperature on a coil is 40˚F or below. There are (2) types of designs for steam distributing coils. They can be constructed with 5/8” (outer-tube) / 3/8” (inner-tube)  &  1” (outer-tube) / 5/8” (inner-tube).  A Capital Coil sales rep is always available to help with proper selections.

HOT WATER BOOSTER COILS

Hot water booster coils are primarily used in duct applications for reheat purposes. In addition to hot water, booster coils can also be used for low pressure steam. The best part is that Capital Coil has a standard (1) week lead time for booster coils. We value speed and quality as much as you.

Capital Coil manufactures all of the above for whatever heating application you may need. All coils are also available on our quick-ship program – if you need your coil built in 3, 5, or 10 days. Capital Coil & Air welcomes the chance to work with you, and be your source for quick answers and immediate service. Please give us a call on your next project!

RELATED TOPICS

Stock Hot Water Booster Coils

Booster Coils: Quick Buyer’s Guide

Commercial Steam Coils – Lengths & Controls