Cracking radiators - 1st Published January 2011
Is Jack Frost nipping at your…radiators?
The recent cold snap and record-breaking low temperatures have led the British public to encounter a rarely seen phenomenon: cracking radiators! This is despite the radiators being inside a property and on a functioning central heating system.
But radiators are known as strong and durable pieces of engineering, so how can a radiator crack?
When water freezes: its volume expands by around 10%. A radiator full of water that is in a particularly cold room such as a conservatory, can freeze and the expansion of the freezing water can cause cracks; usually at weld points and seams on the radiator.
Radiator experts, Feature Radiators, recommend some options to prevent radiators freezing and the consequential damage.
Firstly, install a “frost stat”. This is a device that will override your regular central heating timer and thermostat by automatically switching on your central heating when it senses the temperature drop below a pre-determined amount.
Secondly, invest in some thermostatic valves as these have a “frost protection” setting. This means that when the thermostat on the valves measures the room temperature as approaching 0°C, the valve opens a little, allowing water into the radiator to ensure that it doesn’t freeze. However, this will only work when the central heating is “ON” as thermostatic valves are not able to turn the boiler on.
The frost protection setting on thermostatic valves is great for protecting your radiators and pipes during the day when your central heating system is switched on and working. However, a frost stat will ensure that you protect your radiators and pipes when your central heating system is switched off overnight or when you’re away during the winter and it is this period when most frost damage occurs.
Feature Radiators also recommends you consider frost damage when purchasing reclaimed cast iron radiators. These are often purchased from salvage yards and can be stored outdoors leading to cracking. Pressure testing of reclaimed radiators is essential to ensure that radiators are functioning correctly and that they are free from leaks.
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