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Snow melt - help with heat exchanger freeze protection

lug2torq
lug2torq Member Posts: 1
I'm adding a 120 ft2 (4'x 30') concrete access ramp to my house in Ottawa, and looking to add some heat to it. My goal is just to avoid salt on the concrete, and to use the heat as supplemental to shovelling the snow. Manual start, with timed operation is the goal. Slab temperature sensor is an option, but really don't want / need a snow sensor. Designing for 160 Btu / sq ft, so 20K Btu total.

When I reviewed the documentation for some snow melt controllers like the Tekmar/Watts 654, it wasn't clear how to prevent a possible sub-zero return from the slab causing freezing at the heat exchanger. The system I'm planning would rely on the not so speedy Uponor thermal actuator, and I'd need to ensure the heat exchanger maintains a minimum temperature.

Looking for help on simple / robust way to prevent freezing problems at the heat exchanger. (Either mixing or sensors & control)

Also, while I'm looking at Tekmar 654 or Uponor 3040654 (same thing?), it is more controller than I really need. I'd like something I could mount on the wall near the front door, and it would be easier to retrofit something that ran off 24VAC.
Any other controllers out there I should look at?

System Info:

Existing modcon boiler ( 151000 Btu Reillo) for the radiant system heats the basement concrete floor (seldom used) and an indirect hot water tank. There is an unused position on the manifold, and an open position on the Uponor zone controller. Manifold has Uponor thermal actuators. The manifold is feed by a Grundfos Alpha 2 15-55, on auto adapt. Reillo is set to 110F for the radiant.

Rather than cut into the primary loop for the snow melt, my plan is to run a 3/4" loop off the existing open position on the manifold to a flat plate heat exchanger.

Designing for 160 Btu / sq ft, so 20K Btu total. The snow melt circuit design has two 1/2" loops in the ramp, 6" spacing. Each loop is just under 200 ft. (The choice of 1/2" was to help with a bend on a stair tread, off a landing midway) Flowrate 0.86 and 0.84 GPM, headloss 8ft.

Mini glycol feeder (Calefactio GMP4, Axiom DMF150, or similar). Grundfos 15-58 for the circulator. Expansion tank, air separator TBD.

Comments

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,757
    I froze an HX once :(.
    The simple way to fix it is to put an aquastat set to 50 degrees or so on the boiler water return pipe from the HX and wire it in series with the snowmelt circulator. Anytime the temp drops, the circ turns off until it catches up.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    lug2torq
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,260
    How the crap can you freeze a HX?
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,757
    GroundUp said:
    How the crap can you freeze a HX?
    If you have an ice cold snow melt slab with glycol on the snowmelt side and water on the boiler side and you have no flow on the boiler side, the water will freeze and wreck your hx. I know a guy.... :#
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    GroundUp
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,200
    Zman said:


    GroundUp said:

    How the crap can you freeze a HX?

    If you have an ice cold snow melt slab with glycol on the snowmelt side and water on the boiler side and you have no flow on the boiler side, the water will freeze and wreck your hx. I know a guy.... :#

    Bet that was ugly :)
  • Mike_Breault
    Mike_Breault Member Posts: 26
    good day, Mike Breault from tekmar here,

    the 654 is a 24V controller (note it has a full load power requirement of 100VA, a 40 VA is usually sufficient,

    it is likely the most basic snow melt, but has plenty of option and is a very versatile control.

    to prevent freezing, I would refer you to the application drawing found here https://www.watts.com/dfsmedia/0533dbba17714b1ab581ab07a4cbb521/81799-source/654-a-01 in particular A654-5, note the use of a freeze awuastat, this opens contacts if the temp gets to cold and stops the system pumps from pumpingice cold antifreeze into the heat exchanger until your boiler catches up

    hope that helps
    Zman