In the News: Freeze Protection Feature Highlighted in Plant Engineering Magazine

Maintaining water-bearing equipment in a facility can be tricky, especially in wintertime. Ensuring piping, safety showers, condensate systems, and pumps are kept from freezing conditions is challenging. When these systems are exposed to freezing temperatures, they become vulnerable to damage and water supply disruptions, which can cause hazardous working conditions.

Freeze protection is critical in applications such as:

  • piping, valves, and fittings
  • pumps
  • filtration systems
  • holding tanks
  • condensate systems
  • fire lines
  • freeze-sensitive equipment
  • backup protection on traced systems/equipment

A common misconception is that your system will continue functioning when water is at freezing temperatures as long as the water is ‘moving,’ which is untrue. Water expands and freezes at 32°F, regardless of flow rate, and pipes can burst.

Which Freeze Protection Works Best for Your Facility?

Factors to consider are the location of the machinery, temperature variations, the presence of outdoor or exposed sections, and the criticality of the water supply. Assessing your facility’s specific machinery and water systems is vital to determining the most appropriate freeze protection methods. Different areas of your facility may require different strategies or multiple approaches. The severity of the winter climate should also be considered.

Various ways to Protect Water Lines:

Pipe Insulation: Pipe insulation is a commonly used method to help protect pipes from freezing. It is done by wrapping the pipes with insulating material, such as foam or fiberglass, to provide a barrier against the cold. Insulation reduces heat transfer and helps maintain a more stable temperature within the pipes. This is good practice but is not always enough protection to prevent freezing in extreme weather conditions.

Electric Heat Tracing: This process installs electric heating cables along the length of the pipes. These cables generate heat that keeps the pipes warm, preventing freezing. This method can be costly and vulnerable to power outages.

Pipe Taping: Pipe taping involves wrapping the pipes with specially designed heat tape or heating cables, generating heat to keep them warm. It is suitable for smaller pipes or localized freezing areas.

Pipe-Heating Cable Systems: Pipe-heating cable systems require electricity to function and consist of versatile, self-regulating cables that automatically adjust their heat output based on the surrounding temperature. The cables are installed directly on the pipes and provide constant heat to alleviate freezing. In extremely cold conditions, pipe-heating cable systems could struggle to keep up with the demand for heat, especially if the system is not designed for extremely low temperatures.

Backup Generators: In the case of power outages, backup generators can provide additional protection for freeze-prone areas. They ensure that essential equipment, such as heat tracing systems or pipe-heating cables, continues functioning even during power failures.

Space Heaters: Heating the air around the pipes with space heaters can provide temporary freeze protection. This method is suitable for small, localized areas or temporary setups.

Manual Valves: These valves provide a means to control water flow in a piping system. They are manually operated, allowing users to open, close, or partially restrict the water flow.

Thermostatic Freeze Protection Valves: Freeze protection valves are specialized valves that prevent freezing in piping systems. These valves automatically open when the temperature drops below a certain set point, allowing a controlled water flow to prevent freezing. When the temperature rises, the valves close.

Low temperatures can turn worst-case scenarios into reality without adequate protection. Upholding diligent maintenance and awareness during cold weather can avert expensive and inconvenient repercussions from frozen pipes. Even heat-traced systems risk freezing in the event of an electric tracing malfunction.

Once freeze protection is in place, facility maintenance personnel have a better chance of working safely and protecting their equipment from freeze damage.


ThermOmegaTech Freeze Protection Valves

Freeze Protection has three (of many) applications: a condensate manifold, a float trap, and safety showers/eyewash stations.








Utilizing Temperature-sensing Freeze Protection

Manual valves are an easy solution for freeze protection to implement, but you introduce the risk of human error (forgetting to turn the valves on or off). Opting for a self-actuating, non-electric freeze protection method can offer superior protection for your water systems compared to other techniques.

Thermostatic freeze protection valves prevent water from freezing within pipes and systems by monitoring temperatures and adjusting flow. Utilizing thermal actuator technology, they sense the water or air temperature and will open to bleed off the cold water until it reaches a safe level. Because the valve functions without power, it is ideal for explosion-proof and remote areas.

Freeze protection valves are particularly useful in intermittent water flow or when power is not readily available for heat tracing systems. They are widely used in industrial settings such as oil refineries, chemical terminals, and processing facilities to forestall freezing within their systems.

Your Freeze Protection Solution

Water line thermostatic freeze protection HAT/FP valves from ThermOmegaTech use a specifically designed thermostatic wax actuator technology with an “install it and forget it” approach, simplifying freeze protection management.

ThermOmegaTech’s HAT/FP valve allows flow when the thermostatic actuator senses 35°F (1.7°C) and will remain open as long as the discharge water temperature is below 40°F (4.4°C). Installed in the standard flow direction, the actuator senses the ambient temperature and opens to initiate flow, then responds to water temperature.

Installed in the reverse flow direction, the wax actuator will always sense and respond to the water temperature to control the flow. Once the water temperature is above the freeze danger zone, the valve will modulate closed to conserve water.

The main benefit is cost savings; once installed, they require no additional power source and only activate when the water temperature is near freezing. Thermostatic freeze protection valves operate independently and reliably. They help prevent frozen piping with your facility’s systems and offer the convenience of a low-maintenance, long-lasting solution, protecting against freeze damage for all your applications.

“If systems are left unprotected, damage in piping can occur, so safeguarding your machinery with freeze protection valves offers a sense of security, knowing your systems are protected and won’t freeze due to unpredictable weather or a sudden cold snap,” explains Tim McCollum, ThermOmegaTech® OEM Sales Manager.

Questions on how to make your plant or facility safer? Contact ThermOmegaTech here.

Feature written by Marketing Coordinator Christine Tarlecki and it originally ran on March 24, 2024 on Plant Engineering. Read the full feature here.