Keeping a heat exchanger from freezing when there's no fire....

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smatda

New Member
Oct 9, 2022
3
Bristol, VA
We bought a foreclosure two years ago, which came with a CL4030 boiler. The house has a package heat pump with a HX bolted to the exhaust duct between the heat pump and the house. It's our second home, primarily use it on weekends, so its not permanently occupied. During the winter we usually set the heat pump to 45 degrees and don't run the OWB unless we're out there. Last winter, the heat pump malfunctioned during a two day cold spell, we didn't know it and the heat exchanger froze and took out 6 tubes. $160 for a new HX.

Don't want to really use antifreeze so my idea is to split the hot wire going to the circulator into two parallel legs. One with a thermostat, the other with an on/off switch. If we fire the boiler, the switch is on and the circulator runs. If it's off, then if the temperature drops below say 40F, the circulator kicks on and runs keeping the HX from freezing. This would only be for those days where it's like 50 in the day and 25 at night. Thoughts?
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Sep 18, 2019
1,787
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
I live in a part of the world where running without glycol (antifreeze) in water is simply not heard of.

That would be my solution, 16% ethylene glycol would give you a freeze point of 20f.
 
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sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
1,140
Central Ohio


I'd run the circulator 24x7. Like any electric motor, turning them off and on is the worst thing you can do to them. Setup a ranco for the thermostat so the heat from the heat pump will keep the exchanger from freezing and you will only need one thermostat. If you are worried about the HP going out again, I'd definitely add glycol to the loop.
 
Last edited:

49chevyman

Member
Sep 5, 2017
27
Northeast TN
I had a similar situation. My EKO 40 is located in an outbuilding. I only batch burn and travel quite a bit, so I was worried about the outdoor parts of the system freezing. I priced glycol for my 1400 gallon system, then used the solution you proposed. I installed a snap switch that closes at around 35F and open around 40F. Have had no issues in 6 years.