Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System Review

411 plumb The Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System is probably one of the best heating cables available for pipes. Most heat tapes are simple thermostat controlled heating cables that are looped around the pipe at a given number of turns per foot then insulation is applied over the heat tape and pipe. If the coils are too close or accidentally overlap the cable can overheat and burn out or worse possibly cause a fire. The thermostat turning on and off constantly has contacts that eventually will wear and burn causing the heat tape to fail.
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The Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System is very unique because the cable is self-regulating and only delivers the heat that is needed. With the Frostex System the cable does not wrap spiraling around the pipe it’s protecting making installation a breeze. The heat cable goes straight down the side of the pipe and has insulation applied over it instead of looping the heat tape cable round and round the pipe untangling knots. Depending on the size of the pipe and the lowest temperature you want protection from determines how many times the Frostex heat cable needs to run against the pipe consult the pipe size and temperature chart and install as needed for your application.  The Frostex cable can overlap and will not overheat because the Frostex is cable is self-regulating. Each year many people in colder areas experience frozen pipes requiring pipe thawing and often experience damage to the pipes as well causing the need for a plumber to repair the pipes. With Frostex protecting the pipes from freezing your problems are eliminated.

Frostex Self Regulating Heat Cable

Frostex Self Regulating Heat Cable

The Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable is constructed of several layers and in the heart of the cable run 2 bus wires that supply electrical power to the heat tape. Surrounding the 2 bus wires is a special polymer, which generates heat when electrical current flows through it. Using resistance to generate heat with electricity is nothing new but here’s where Frostex has reinvented the wheel, the polymer used in the Frostex cable changes resistance with temperature. As the temperature lowers the resistance of the polymer lowers allowing higher current flow and more heat to be generated, and vice versa as the temperature increases the resistance increases so the cable produces less heat. This self-regulating feature is what allows the Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable to be overlapped without worrying about overheating. Over the self-regulating polymer is a tough blue insulation layer and a clear wrapped layer then a layer of wire braid to complete the protection of the cable.

Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System Components

Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System Components

The self-regulating polymer in the Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable has a resistance that changes with the temperature and at 40-Degrees F the cable uses about 3.5 watts per foot, while a decrease in temperature to 0-Degrees F the power usage increases to about 5 watts per foot. This self-regulating feature makes the need for a thermostat disappear and the Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable is simply plugged in or turned for the winter season and unplugged or shut off at the finish of the season. Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable is even safe to apply on plastic pipes and even waste lines up to 2” diameter.

Frostex is sold in reels and cut to the desired length. It is also sold by the foot at many locations.

Frostex Cable is sold on reels and by the foot at many locations.

Many of the other heat tapes come in set lengths where you buy the length of heat tape that comes closest to your needs resulting in the cable never being just the right length. The 12’ cable is too short and the 15’ cable is too long always seems to apply and the only choices available are to stretch out the spirals lowering the protection or trying to increase the wraps or string out the extra increasing the risk of overheating. Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable comes on a reel and can be cut to the exact length you need for your application up to a maximum of 50’. Tradespersons can purchase a reel and pull off just what they need or, Frostex cable can be purchased by the foot at many locations, which is handy for many tradespersons that don’t use a large amount and homeowners that are doing it themselves. In addition to the cable the Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable 9800 Flex Plug Kit needs to be purchased to complete the installation. The 9800 Flex Plug Kit contains a plug kit, which offers, ground fault protection as well as fuse protection for the Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System. The 9800 Flex Plug kit also contains a Gel Filled End Seal to cover the end of the Frostex Cable. The Frostex Cable has its insulation stripped following the instructions and the wires are hooked up to the screw terminals of the 9800 Flex Plug to complete the installation. While Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable is not as easy in this area of the installation as premanufactured heat tapes the ease of installation in other areas greatly outweigh this one inconvenience in the installation process and gives you a far superior installation. The only tools you need for installing Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection Cable is a #2 Phillips Screwdriver, Wire cutters and a roll of electrical tape.

There are some safety rules that apply to the installation which are the same as any other heat tape system. The Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System can only be used on above ground water pipes that are insulated and weatherproofed, and the 9800 Flex Plug must be plugged into a grounded receptacle in a dry area. Frostex Cable must be used in a complete length with the 9800 Flex Plug on one end and the End seal on the other, and cannot be spliced in the middle. Heat tape cannot be used in enclosed areas such as walls ceilings and floors, it must be out on the open where it can be inspected for damage from rodents and other critters.

The Frostex Pipe Freeze Protection System is available at many home centers, hardware stores.

Comments

  1. Ernie Hokanson says

    Is the output temperature adjustable? Can this heat cable be used below seed plant pots to maintain 85 degrees (+/-) to provide warmth to promote root growth?

  2. Keith Hallam says

    Hi, in the third paragraph you say….

    As the temperature lowers the resistance of the polymer lowers allowing higher current flow and more heat to be generated, and vice versa as the temperature increases the resistance lowers so the cable produces less heat.

    Shum Mishtake Shureley?? (007)
    Regards, Keith

  3. doug bolin says

    Where can I purchase this product I cannot find a retail or wholesale supplier in the Akron Cleveland Ohio area. Please advise.

  4. Russ Paulson says

    Hi!!. We own a mobile home in southwest Wisconsin and have the Frostex on our above ground incoming water line. How long can we expect this Frostex to last before we have to replace it??.

    • says

      Hi Russ,
      You ask a hard question to answer. All I can really say is that it has the potential to last far longer than any other type of heat tape made and is much easier to install. The very nature of its design with the polymer between the two conductors changing its resistance based on temperature, and varying the heat according to need, along its entire length of the cable eliminates thermostat failure and overheating. Thermostats and overheating are the main points of failure on heat tape. In addition there are specifications on what the resistance should be at certain temperatures so you can test the cable with an ohmmeter to see if the resistance matches the temperature. Of course all of that can go wrong in an instant when the wrong little rodent crawls under the mobile home for shelter over the winter and starts gnawing on it.
      Redwood

  5. Jim Miller says

    My sump pump goes into a 6 inch diameter plastic tile that is 40 ft long and underground. The pipe has froze and I had to do an emergency work around. Can I pull this heat cable through the inside of the tile and leave lay in there all winter full length of tile as water runs through it? I have a new house. This is my first winter. Thanks. Jim.

    • says

      Hi Jim,
      Is this a new construction home or, just new to you?

      I’m curious why it froze, typically a line of this type will only freeze if there is an area of the pipe where there is water remaining in the pipe at all times. This would be the result of an improperly installed pipe that isn’t pitched properly to drain. I’d have the line camera inspected to see if there is a belly in the pipe and if there is one dig up the pipe and fix it.

      With a pipe problem such as this a similar product is available called WinterGard Wet which is a waterproofed version of the Frostex made by the same company to be used as pipe trace. This product is installed inside the pipe and will not allow the pipe to become completely blocked with ice.

      Hope this helps,
      Redwood

      • Jim Miller says

        Thanks a lot for the info on the WinterGard. I will look into it. This is a brand new construction house. I helped my son install the tile and have pictures of everything. It was all installed very professionally. We had an unusual situation last sunday here in southern Minnesota. It was 37 degrees and pouring rain all day. When the warm water hit the cool ground (the way I got it figured anyway) it started freezing and plugged the tile. I have 5 tiles that were all froze up. 4 raingutter downspouts and 1 for the sump pump all just underground about 1 foot by the house then dropping and shooting out the side of the hill about 40 feet away. The water poured out on the ground and made its way into the basement window well then into the basement tile and through the sump pump again. I now have temporary hose and gutter extensions to get it away from the house in the problem area. I am thinking that if I can run a strip of this heating cable through each tile then it could prevent trouble in the winter. Maybe once per winter or every other year we will get rain like this in mid winter. It usually stays cold and the snow melts slower in the spring. We had a downpour. I might ask for help again depending on my investigation of this product. Thanks Jim

        • says

          Hi Jim,
          As you know there are other situations where the line can freeze up and I was just checking to make sure that you shouldn’t be making it the builders problem. You probably were frozen before the heavy rains but it took the rain to bring it to your attention. Lines that are open to outside drains such as storm drains and gutter drains can often have cold air blowing through them, in addition shallow lines above the frost line can freeze. It doesn’t usually happen but a low flow trickling through can freeze in thin layers eventually completely blocking the pipe, as it doesn’t have enough volume to keep temperature above freezing as it goes through the line.

          In a situation like yours the WinterGard Wet is an ideal solution to ensure the drain line stays open.

          Redwood

  6. J kelty says

    Hi Jim,
    is there any kind of solution to freezing pipes and is also rodent proof? I have pipes in a crawl space on a cabin located in the woods and rodents are always a problem.
    thanks

    • says

      Hi J,
      I’m not sure if Jim will see this, but I would have to say there are no rodent proof solutions that I know of. The best solution in my opinion is the feed them an ample diet of Warfarin and hope they don’t get to your heat tape.
      Redwood

  7. Jake says

    My Frostex cable was compromised by a woodchuck. He chewed clear through the cable. Can this cable be repaired (spliced) back together ?

    • says

      Hi Jake,
      No, there is no approved splice technique for Frostex cable. You may terminate the first length with the Frostex End Cap Kit, and add a second Frostex Power Circuit to the chewed off length or, replace the cable with a new proper length cable. When I was a kid working on the farm, a hose on the exhaust of the 1963 Ford pick-up truck with the choke pulled out, with the hose and a few shovelfuls of dirt to seal the hole, and any additional holes the smoke came out of worked well on the woodchucks. Cars and trucks today tend not to be able to make as much CO to be as effective though.

      Redwood

  8. stuart says

    We moved into a home that has frostex heat cables on some of the pipes. On one of the plugs the light does not come on but I think the cable is working. How can I tell if the cable is working. It does seem to warm up under my hand. I would like to replace the plug. The plug that is on there is different(older and no gfci). Is the newer plug compatable with the older cable? It does have the metal braid on the outside of the cable. Thanks

    • says

      Hi Stuart,
      There really isn’t much to the plug. The plug is pretty much a pass through with an indicator light or in later models a GFCI, the real work is in the cable itself. The cable varies its resistance and the amount of heating based on the temperature it is exposed to. If the cable is getting fed electricity and the cable is okay it will work regardless if the indicator lamp working. I believe the cable hasn’t changed and just the plug has been upgraded.

      I hope this helps,
      Redwood

  9. Donovan says

    On the 9800 power unit, when the power light is not lit, does that mean the heat tape is not heating? Mine I have found the light off and had to hit the reset button to get it lit again. I’m afraid that while I’m away from the cabin for a couple of weeks the pipe will freeze if the light goes out.

    • says

      Hi Donovan,
      The indicator lamp indicates power passing through the plug to the cable. If you experienced the GFCI needing a reset to have the indicator light come back on you may have a problem with the cable. GFCI units trip when there is current leakage which can present a shock hazard, examine the insulation for damage.
      Redwood

  10. Mike Maxwell says

    Just had the 9800 installed on the incoming water line to my mobile home. As I watched the tech install the two ends of the cable into the plug, I noticed he pulled back some of the plastic and outer cover. But don’t think he stripped wires before he inserted into the plug box? Should he have or are the wires and screws self tapping when the back cover is put back on? It looked like there would be no electrical contacts made. The light did come on.

    • says

      Hi Mike,
      When installing the Frostex cable into the 9800 plug all that is needed is a clean cut across the end of the cable, then the outer braid of the cable is pulled back exposing 3/4″ of the insulated cable under the braid. The cable is then placed fully into the cable guide on the plug, and the screws are tightened. When the screws are tightened the contacts in the plug pierce the cable and make the connection, all that needs to be done is the installer has to make sure that none of the braid enters the cable guide on the plug.

      So it sounds like your installation was done correctly and you don’t have any worries, congratulations you have the best heat tap on the market protecting your mobile home, and you shouldn’t have any worries unless critters get in there and damage the cable or, you lose power during freezing conditions.

      Redwood

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