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Old 02-14-2005, 12:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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antifreeze for radiant floor heat?

What type of antifreeze is used in in floor radiant heating?

Could I use the same antifreeze as a car uses?

I have radiant floor in my house and it uses water. I want to use antifreeze in the shop which is not attached to the house. What type of system is used to keep pressure on the heating system?

in my house I have a pressure regulator that steps down the pressure from my pressure bladder But the pressure bladder is fed by the well pump. So would I have to have a tank for the pump to suck antifreeze out of, then pump it to a pressure bladder? or could I just empty the air out of a pressure bladder then bleed all the air out of the heating system and repressurize the bladder?

Im trying to save from having to buy stuff I dont need?
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Old 02-14-2005, 01:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you are running a closed loop system you can use regular antifreeze. I wouldn't recommend a high mix as it will reduce your heat transfer capabilities. Since all you should be looking for is the corrosion protection a 20-30% mix should be fine. Or you could go with a non ferrous boiler and pump and then you don't have to worry about it anyway.

Why do you want to pressurize the system? Temperature of the coolant shouldn't be too high due to comfort issues. A circulating pump and an expansion tank are all you need to support coolant volume changes due to expansion and contraction.
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Old 02-14-2005, 04:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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OK from what you say I should be able to have a fill valve at the highest point of the system, where I can pour in the liquid and then close the valve turn on the circulator pump (via a thermostat) and the heat will expand the liquid into the expansion tank and every thing will be good?
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We are in the process of hooking up the in floor heat in ower shop now ,and we used a auto fill valve that keeps the system at 12psi and a expansion tank and a auto bleeder we still need to get a air trap to finish hooking it up the guys I talked to were split about antifrezz some said big no no and some said it was ok as long as you used it in a closed system and used the stuff made for radiant heating systems( we are useing hot water heaters)
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The stuff i'm using is called glycol.
I think it was a 5 gallon pail of the stuff for enough tubing to cover about 1000 square feet.

Don't remember what it cost though....
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sothpaw
Since all you should be looking for is the corrosion protection a 20-30% mix should be fine.
Uh, isn't freezing protection important as well?

Match glycol concentration to expected lowest temperature. Also, I suspect that the thermal transfer efficiency isn't gonna be impacted horribly if at all by the addition of the anti-freeze, it doesn't seem to hamper it much in vehicles
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Old 02-15-2005, 12:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PTSchram
Uh, isn't freezing protection important as well?

Match glycol concentration to expected lowest temperature. Also, I suspect that the thermal transfer efficiency isn't gonna be impacted horribly if at all by the addition of the anti-freeze, it doesn't seem to hamper it much in vehicles
Uh, since this is a HEATING system I dont think freezing would be an issue. It never has been in mine...

I agree that the addition of anti freeze in normal mixtures (~50/50) shouldn't hamper heat transfer. Note that I said high mixtures were not recommended.
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Old 02-15-2005, 02:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sothpaw
Uh, since this is a HEATING system I dont think freezing would be an issue. It never has been in mine...
So what happens when you turn the heat off in the winter without antifreeze?
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Old 02-15-2005, 03:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I wouldn't advise using anti-freeze in any kind of radiant heating system that is tied to a useable/potable system. The legalities are midboggling!! By using a hotwater heater, a "taco" recirculating pump, auto fill/pressure valve, and an expansion tank, you have most all the bases covered. One thing to remember, it takes a bit of time to get all of the cold out of a slab so why take it out and then let the cold come back in by turning the system off? If you are wanting to turn the system on and off then use a gas furnace instead. Otherwise turn the radiant system on and leave it on until spring when it warms up.

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Old 02-15-2005, 03:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Propylene and Ethylene glycols are commonly used in closed loop heating systems (i.e. your boiler and radiant heat system). P.G. is safer and not as toxic as E.G. You can get either with corosion inhibitors (to protect from corrosion in the boiler and pipes), and are designed for heat transfer systems. Google "Dowfrost" and you may be able to find a local distributor. It should sell for around $10/gal.in small quantities.

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Old 02-15-2005, 05:24 PM   #11 (permalink)
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My heating loops are closed from the potable water, but the boiler does provide hot potable water as well. (I do have one of those Taco pumps, keep meaning to take a picture of it.)

The glycol is added to the system so that in case there is a power or gas failure (needs both to function), and the owner (me) may not be around to get the problem fixed right away, so when i get back home i wouldn't find a bunch of frozen piping under my 6" cement slab that would then have to get replaced.
This is of course in my garage, and obviously i don't spend as much time there as i do my house, unlike some of you guys.
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Old 02-15-2005, 05:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 79ih
I wouldn't advise using anti-freeze in any kind of radiant heating system that is tied to a useable/potable system. The legalities are midboggling!!
79 IH
Code requires a "Reduced Pressure Backflow Preventer Valve" and eliminates any risk of cross-connection.

(sorry, old habits die hard, 19 years of related regulatory stuff and all)
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMG7895
So what happens when you turn the heat off in the winter without antifreeze?
Radiant floor heat is not a "turn it on and warm up the room" type of system. Most are rated to change the temperature of a room by 1-2 degrees/hour max. If you install it you leave it on, otherwise go get yourself an oil/gas furnace as the system will not meet your needs.
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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You're right about that sothpaw.
My installer said that my specific boiler should be left on 100% of the time, through the summer, everything. He said just set the thermostat way low and the system won't actually try to heat anything.
The reason for this is that the boiler apparently will cycle itself about once a week to circulate new fluid internally. Guess it helps to prevent clogs or whatever.
Also, if it's not cycling at all (supposed to be able to hear it) then there is something wrong and it needs to be inspected.
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Old 02-19-2005, 04:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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You should NOT put automotive antifreeze in your radiant floor system. I researched this for a LONG LONG time when I designed and built my system. You should be using propylene glycol antifreeze made for radiant applications. I looked for a long time for a distributor of Dowfrost HD that would sell small quantities (I needed 15 gallons antifreeze for my 42 gal system) and the smallest quantity I could buy was 5 gallon pails for $225 ea. or a 55 gal barrel for $600. You do the math. I ended up using Noble Noburst for $70/5 gal. No problems in 2 years. Make sure you test your system pH every couple years. Should be 9-11. If you let it get acidic, you'll lose your boiler.
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Old 02-19-2005, 07:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I work in an industrial complex and we trade use of machinery to a company that does antifreze recycling. I asked them about it and they said it might work but they have had problems with specific types of seals on there pumps and valves. They also said that I was a day late, they had a company drain a radiant system and they needed to get rid of 120 gal so they sucked it up as waste (just my luck). They also said they were looking into making some mix for a company doing radiant heating so I guess I will just wait and get the 50 or so gal I need when they do the other batch( for free I might add its nice to trade back and forth)


Quote:
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You should NOT put automotive antifreeze in your radiant floor system. I researched this for a LONG LONG time when I designed and built my system. You should be using propylene glycol antifreeze made for radiant applications. I looked for a long time for a distributor of Dowfrost HD that would sell small quantities (I needed 15 gallons antifreeze for my 42 gal system) and the smallest quantity I could buy was 5 gallon pails for $225 ea. or a 55 gal barrel for $600. You do the math. I ended up using Noble Noburst for $70/5 gal. No problems in 2 years. Make sure you test your system pH every couple years. Should be 9-11. If you let it get acidic, you'll lose your boiler.
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Old 02-21-2005, 06:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Holy crap! You need 50 gallons antifreeze? Either you live in the Arctic, or your shop is HUGE. I have a 42 gallon total system size and my shop is 2500 sq ft. Mix it about 30-50% concentration depending on how cold you expect it to get unheated. Mine's protected to about -10F. That's pretty cold. The average temp would have to be below -10F for days before I'd get in trouble. And that's only if the system is off and fully cooled. And I'd question why you'd put in radiant if you were going to have it off much, since it takes so long to heat back up. Mine takes about 2 days to heat back up from freezing to 60F.
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Old 02-22-2005, 05:20 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Holy crap! You need 50 gallons antifreeze? Either you live in the Arctic, or your shop is HUGE. I have a 42 gallon total system size and my shop is 2500 sq ft. Mix it about 30-50% concentration depending on how cold you expect it to get unheated. Mine's protected to about -10F. That's pretty cold. The average temp would have to be below -10F for days before I'd get in trouble. And that's only if the system is off and fully cooled. And I'd question why you'd put in radiant if you were going to have it off much, since it takes so long to heat back up. Mine takes about 2 days to heat back up from freezing to 60F.

all of the stuff that comes from the plant I deal with (all is automotive) is at a 50/50 mix. Im not sure how the new stuff there making will come but I have about 42-45 gal system
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Old 02-22-2005, 06:05 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86turbodsl
You should NOT put automotive antifreeze in your radiant floor system. I researched this for a LONG LONG time when I designed and built my system. You should be using propylene glycol antifreeze made for radiant applications. I looked for a long time for a distributor of Dowfrost HD that would sell small quantities (I needed 15 gallons antifreeze for my 42 gal system) and the smallest quantity I could buy was 5 gallon pails for $225 ea. or a 55 gal barrel for $600. You do the math. I ended up using Noble Noburst for $70/5 gal. No problems in 2 years. Make sure you test your system pH every couple years. Should be 9-11. If you let it get acidic, you'll lose your boiler.
I helped build a hangar at a local airport nearly 20 years ago. We filled the radiant floor system with anti-freeze bought at a local NAPA and it has been running fine since.

Surprisingly, this system is maintained at about 45'F and the difference it makes with the floor being even that cold is amazing. The space heater runs rarely and the shop can be kept quite comfy with minimal use of the furnace.

The same gentleman owned rental properties that were heated with 40 gallon water heaters and Grundfos recirculating pumps. Again, filled with automotive anti-freeze. Go ahead, tell me that water heaters won't work-I have empirical evidence to the contrary.
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Old 02-22-2005, 05:26 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I helped build a hangar at a local airport nearly 20 years ago. We filled the radiant floor system with anti-freeze bought at a local NAPA and it has been running fine since.
Check the acidity of the system. I'd bet it's eating the insides of the boiler at this very minute. Look, the point is, there's a lot of things you CAN do that you probably SHOULDN'T do when setting up a hydronic system. I'm a mechanical engineer, and I spent over 6 months researching my system before I built it. I cut every corner I could find and still build a good system, and I still paid over $3500 for the parts to do it. With the cost to install the average floor radiant system, does it make sense to cut corners that could result in buying a new boiler? I'm just relating what I learned. You want specifics, or want to thumb your nose at someone, do it over at www.heatinghelp.com. The boys over there can run hydronic rings around me and anyone else here. I wasn't about to baling wire and duct tape my system.
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Old 02-23-2005, 04:28 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Check the acidity of the system. I'd bet it's eating the insides of the boiler at this very minute. Look, the point is, there's a lot of things you CAN do that you probably SHOULDN'T do when setting up a hydronic system. I'm a mechanical engineer, and I spent over 6 months researching my system before I built it. I cut every corner I could find and still build a good system, and I still paid over $3500 for the parts to do it. With the cost to install the average floor radiant system, does it make sense to cut corners that could result in buying a new boiler? I'm just relating what I learned. You want specifics, or want to thumb your nose at someone, do it over at www.heatinghelp.com. The boys over there can run hydronic rings around me and anyone else here. I wasn't about to baling wire and duct tape my system.
The guy who built the hangar is a PE (passed the test over Christmas break of his sophomore year of college!). I spent 19 years as an environmental, health & safety engineer with among others, a degree in chemistry. For my last employer, I also managed the chillers/heaters. I'm fully aware of water chemistry (owned a testing lab, worked in one of the biggest labs in the country as VP of elemental spectroscopy).

I too have the education and experience to back up my statements. In the vast majority of situations, one really doesn't need to worry about such issues if one uses good water, treats it initially and uses appropriate materials of construction.

Yes, we can get very academic but in the end, nothing has been gained from it but mental masturbation.

Lastly, this just came to me. My house has hot water heat. Originally, it was charged with well water (very hard well water I might add). After nearly 100 years, the boiler (not really a boiler, but heat exchanger) was replaced in 1979 -it was relpaced due to efficiency concerns, not corrosion, etc. If it were so critical, I'd be freezing my ass off right now, instead of enjoying the benefits of hot water heat. If a hot water heating system can last more than fifty years without any treatment and originally charged with well water, I really think one can trust their garage heat to untreated water with some glycol added to insure that it won't freeze should the power go out.

It's hard to argue with long-term real world experience, but many try.
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Old 02-23-2005, 06:52 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Yeah, and water doesn't turn acidic when you heat it. Glycol does. But whatever, I'm masturbatin' again I guess....
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:29 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Yeah, and water doesn't turn acidic when you heat it. Glycol does. But whatever, I'm masturbatin' again I guess....
the guys at the antifreze place were teling me that the bigest problem area was at the bottom of there boiler area. they biol the water and "add pack" off of the glycol so at the bottom the glycol is super hot and super concentrate

as to the acidity I ask my self this why is it that a car can run so long on automotive antifreze with out problems, and I have been told that they recomend changing it beacuse the "add pack" desolves away during use

SO im gonna ask the big boss at the antifreze place near me WHY I could not use automotive antifreze and if I could update the add pack based on PH level
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Old 02-24-2005, 09:32 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Actually, that's the recommended way of handling it. A solution of NaOH mixed with water can be charged into your system to re-energize it. I read the engineering documentation for Dowfrost HD, and that's how the Dow engineers recommended a recharge. Most folks don't know what the hell any of this is, and should just let a pro handle it.

Automotive antifreeze can turn acidic and eat your cylinder heads or other aluminum parts. That's part of why you change it.
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Old 02-26-2005, 07:35 AM   #25 (permalink)
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When one is working with million-dollar chillers and energy costs are a major concern one should worry about the finer points. For a freaking garage, anti-freeze and tap water is sufficient.

Adding sodium hydroxide to such systems is overkill.
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