What is a frost protection valve and why is it leaking?Cat McCarthy
In the first episode of Game of Thrones, the ill-fated protagonist Ned Stark delivered a rousing speech to motivate his people to brace themselves for the difficult times he foresaw; Winter Is Coming. While its only mid-Autumn, Winter is only around the corner and last year temperatures were well into the minuses in Wyndham and Hobsons Bay. With these cold mornings comes the risk of plumbing emergencies such as frozen pipes, frozen water meters and frost protection valves leaking.
A leaky frost protection valve in Point Cook, or the surrounding suburbs, is the most common plumbing problem we receive calls about on a cold winter’s day. Whilst Melbourne is not classified in Victoria’s frost zone, we still do see freezing temperatures in winter here as water vapour in the air freezes upon contact with an object that has a surface temperature below 0ᵒ (BOM).
Greater Western Water suggest that a simple way to ensure your water meter or exposed pipes don’t freeze over is to cover them in blankets, tarps or buckets the night before a freezing weather forecast.
Frost protection valves in West Melbourne
In most homes in West Melbourne that have solar hot water services, frost protection valves have been installed. If they don’t have these, we always suggest that frost protection valves be installed. Frost protection valves are designed to protect the hot water service’s solar panels by ensuring they don’t freeze when the outside air temperature drops. When the air temperature drops to between 3ᵒ and 4ᵒ, the thermostatic element opens in the valve and warm water is flushed through the solar storage tank in the panels which ensures the panels are less likely to freeze.
Once the temperature increases again, the valve will close and the warm water flushed through the panel will stop flowing. Frost protection valves last approximately 1-2 years.
Leaking frost protection valves
If you notice an abundance of water running off your roof and can see it coming from near your hot water system’s solar panel, you may have a fault which is likely to be one of two things: your solar panel has cracked or your frost protection valve needs replacing.
The first thing you can do to stop the flow of water off your roof is to shut off the isolation valve on your hot water system (the tap with the water line coming from through). If you don’t know where this is, you can turn off the water connected to the mains at your water meter.
Next, you’ll need to call a plumber (if you need a Point Cook plumber, or one that also serves the surrounding areas give us a buzz). Our plumbers at McCarthy Plumbing Group will then visit your property and inspect whether or not your solar panel has cracked or you need a replacement frost protection valve.
If your panel is cracked, we will suggest a solar panel bypass. If it’s your frost protection valve, our plumber will replace it with a new valve. Then your solar hot water system will be ready to face the next frosty morning that Mother Nature brings us in West Melbourne. There is no way to prevent it happening again in a few years’ time, however an annual hot water system check-up.
If you have any further questions about solar hot water systems, solar hot water bypasses or frost protection valves or require a plumber in Point Cook, Laverton North or the surrounding areas in West Melbourne contact us today on 03 9931 0905.