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Why Do Steam Coils Freeze

by | Dec 10, 2023

So can steam coils freeze? The simple answer is Yes. Steam turns to water, and water freezes.

But what causes steam coils to freeze up? In this article we’ll dive into this topic, shedding light on why this happens, and more importantly, how to prevent it.

Reasons Steam Coils Freeze Up

The freezing of these coils often happens when the condensate inside them solidifies due to low temperatures. This issue tends to occur more frequently in areas with subfreezing temperatures, although unexpected cold snaps can cause problems even in warmer regions. While older systems are more prone to such issues, improperly installed or maintained new systems can also be affected.

Two primary culprits behind steam coil freezing are the steam trap and the vacuum breaker. These components play a crucial role in removing condensate from the system. If not installed correctly, condensate can accumulate within the coil, leading to inevitable freezing when exposed to outside air. Similarly, a faulty steam trap can cause condensate to build up, resulting in reduced heat transfer and, ultimately, the need for a replacement.

Freezing issues are usually a symptom of broader system issues rather than just the coil misbehaving. This could be anything from improper installation or maintenance, inadequate insulation, and malfunctioning components like steam traps and vacuum breakers, to issues with the heating system like control valve failures or blockages in piping. And let’s not forget human error, such as incorrect adjustments of equipment setpoints, which can also lead to coil freezing.

How Can We Prevent Steam Coil Freeze Ups?

“Freeze-Proof” Your Coils: One of the best ways to prevent a coil freeze is to replace your coils with Freeze Block coils. This advanced technology works by releasing excess pressure in the event of a freeze-up, which prevents the coil from bursting. This means that your coil is protected from the potential damage of freeze-ups, ensuring its longevity and reliable performance, even during the coldest winter months. They have a longer lifespan compared to traditional coils and require little maintenance, making them a worthwhile investment in the long run.

Regular Maintenance and Check-ups: A regular check-up of your HVAC system can help identify any potential problems before they escalate. This includes checking the steam trap and vacuum breaker for proper installation and functionality. Regular maintenance ensures all components are working as they should, reducing the risk of a freeze.

Proper Installation and Care: Ensuring your system is installed correctly is crucial. This includes having dampers, controls, and freeze stats in good working order. Proper care and maintenance of these parts can help avoid a coil freeze. Make sure someone didn;t dial down the freeze stat before winter starts!

Avoiding Steam Coil Freeze Ups

Remember, the key to avoiding steam coil freeze-ups is proper installation and regular maintenance. So don’t neglect your HVAC system and keep it running efficiently all year round! And if you do happen to encounter a freeze-up, make sure you have Freeze Block coils installed for added protection. Happy heating!

For more information on why coils freeze and how to prevent it, check out our detailed guide here.

freeze proof steam coil

Freeze Block Replacement Steam Coils

Available Steam Distributing “non-freeze” Coils and Standard Steam Coils

  • Center Tube Alignment
  • Pre-Installed Vacuum Breaker
  • Improved Distributor Tube Orifice Spacing
  • Valves Preassembled and Tested
  • Climate Room and Wind Tunnel Tested to -74 F
  • 30-Month Freeze Protection Guarantee


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