It imposes a particular challenge to imagine cold weather without hot water, but thanks to technological improvements, water heaters can now provide solutions to problems like these.
Water heaters can still freeze in extreme cold conditions, whether with storage tanks or tankless.
To avoid shivering in your showers, we’ll be providing a list of what happens when the water heater freezes into ice and how to keep them from freezing.
What causes a water heater to freeze?
Water heaters are built to resist freezing temperatures, but they run on energy like all other appliances in your home. After extended periods of power outage combined with cold temperatures, your water heaters are most likely to freeze.
Along with frozen water heaters, you should also keep an eye on the waterlines that provide water to your water heater since they are more prone to freeze if the temperature drops below the point.
How do you keep your water heater from freezing?
As the saying goes – prevent and protect, don’t repent and repair. The following is a list of things you can do to keep your water heaters from freezing:
1. Install your water heater away from cold
This may look a bit complex, but definitely not impossible. It’s less likely for your water heater to freeze if it’s positioned in a warmer area. If it’s placed outside, make sure it’s in a sheltered spot and that the vents are located away from prevailing winds to avoid wind chill and include vent terminations for more wind resistance.
2. Keep your water heater connected to a power source
Your water heater goes off for an extended period, the risk of freezing increases, so make sure it’s linked to a power source.
3. Use a recirculation system if possible
This method is most ideal for a cold environment to use a recirculation system. It’s a plumbing system that swiftly distributes hot water to fixtures without the need to wait for the water to heat up.
4. Ensure that your water heater and pipes are properly insulated
Pipes are more susceptible to freezing than your water heaters because, unlike the latter, they lack an insulation system. Heat tapes, old rags or towels, or thermostatically controlled heat cables are all better options for wrapping your water pipes.
5. Drain your water heater
Heaters should be emptied on a regular basis as part of their routine maintenance. In addition, if you’re going on vacation or have a power outage, draining the water is the easiest way to keep your water heater from freezing.
Should you turn off your water heater if pipes are frozen?
Cold weather can cause your pipes to expand as well as freeze. When a pipe expands too much, it can burst and flood your house. If the pipes do not explode, your home’s water supply will be turned off, resulting in damaging leaks. It’s normally recommended that you disconnect your main water supply valve and your water heater until repairs are completed to avoid further damage.
How do you fix your water heater if it freezes?
You’re given two choices in fixing frozen water heaters:
- Call a plumber to help thaw your frozen pipes. This isn’t just a convenient method, but a safer one as well if you have no idea what to do about the problem.
- Thawing the pipes yourself (which is dangerous and might add to the damage.) If this is your option, then here’s how to do it.
The first thing to do is locate the frozen area by tracing the pipes in and out. Once the frozen area is located, carefully apply heat with whatever tool you have, such as a hairdryer, heat lamp, portable space heater, or other devices that provide gentle warm air.
An alternative option you can use is to turn off cold water and let warm water run through until pipes are warmed and thawed. Allow the heat to reach the pipes by opening up places where they flow.
Open the doors to storerooms, closets, and cabinets if you have pipes there so the heat may seep in. You should first turn the main water supply beforehand in order to prevent the flow of water after the ice has melted.
Once the pipes have thawed and the water has resumed flowing, double-check that none of the pipes have burst due to the freezing and are now leaking. While the pipes are frozen, they will not leak, but once they thaw, if they have ruptured, they will leak instantly. It’s important to know where to turn off the water to stop the flow before you begin.
You’ll want to make sure the pipes don’t freeze again after they’ve been successfully thawed. The optimum method is very dependent on the location of the pipe that froze. Blocking the draft’s path and insulating the area will often solve the problem.
In other cases, insulating the pipes will keep the cold from reaching them long enough for them not to freeze. Electric heat tape can often be used to keep the pipe warm enough to prevent it from freezing again.
Water heaters are extremely beneficial, especially if you live in an area where cold temperatures might persist for an extended period of time. It’s susceptible to breakage and other concerns, just like any other appliance. It’s preferable to invest in high-quality water heaters that will save you money in the long run rather than spending a lot of money on repairs later.
If frozen water heaters are unavoidable despite your best efforts, it’s advised to contact a professional plumber to evaluate the situation and any damage to your water heater.
Professional plumbers have the required tools and have the necessary expertise to effectively and safely unfreeze your plumbing system. This is not a job that should be done as a do-it-yourself effort because you risk causing more harm to your water heater. Better safe and warm than hurt and sorry.