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Why Use Glycol for Heating Systems?

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Why use glycol in heating system

Using glycol for heating systems is the best investment. Lets learn why it’s needed…

For starters, the fluid in the heating system is referred to as “heat transfer fluid”.

So when you have glycol in a heating system we refer to it as “heat transfer glycol” or “freeze protection glycol”.

What is the purpose of heat transfer fluid?

First, to understand why you need glycol in a heating system, we need to understand that heat transfer fluid is used in a hot water heating system (hydronic heating) to circulate heat from the boiler through the heating pipes, to the emitters.

In the simplest of terms:

The boiler heats the fluid – The hot fluid flows through the circulating pumps – The pumps push the hot fluid through the piping system to the emitters.

Emitters are your baseboard, floor heating, snow melt tubes, etc. It’s the equipment that gives off the heat.

So now we know that heat transfer fluid flows within the pipes throughout your home or building.

Why use glycol for heating systems?

As the heat transfer fluid flows through the piping system to your emitters, it must pass under windows or patio doors. It must pass through entry ways, it may even pass through ceilings or even spaces that are not heated for human occupancy. The piping for the heat transfer fluid may even be installed in outside walls.

If we lived in California, then we have no reason for concern. Even places like Vancouver may not be too concerned about where the heat transfer fluid must pass through.

But we do not live in these places.

We live in Alberta, where our cold winters are well below the water freezing mark.

During our Alberta winters, our water freezes

So there you have it. We need glycol in our heating systems so the fluid does not freeze as it passes through unheated spaces, or spaces under windows and patio doors.

>> The Canadian Standards Association: B-214-16, 8.2 Unconditioned spaces. In cases where distribution piping is to pass through an unconditioned space, measures shall be taken to protect the piping from freezing and to ensure that it can deliver the system design output. <<

What happens to water when it freezes in the pipes?

If the heat transfer fluid in the pipes freeze, it expands. And when that happens, the ice blocks push through the pipe causing splits and holes.

Now imagine what happens when those ice blocks break away to flowing fluid? You have a massive amount of heat transfer fluid rushing out all over the place. An entire building full of heat transfer fluid floods into the space.

Now you have massive damage, high cost insurance claims, and a big mess to clean up.

Glycol in heating systems

To conclude, installing glycol in heating systems is an investment.

Glycol offers freeze protection throughout your home or building. In most cases, using glycol in heating systems, is a saftety code requirement.

>> The Canadian Standards Association: B-214-16, 13.3 Freeze Protection. Heat-distribution units or other system components that can be subjected to freezing shall be protected with an appropriate hydronic fluid or a suitable isolation control strategy to prevent freezing. <<

Having proper freeze protection in your home or building, will lower expensive insurance claims. It may even lower your insurace premiums. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

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