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Can A Hot Water Heater Freeze

By November 4, 2022Water Heater
Water heater in the garage.

Anytime that you are concerned about freezing temperatures, it is a good idea to know what appliances need to be winterized. Homeowners will often forget about winterizing anything inside their house. Keep in mind that when water is involved, there needs to be precautions taken when the temperatures drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. This can include your faucets, plumbing, or even hot water heater. Can a hot water heater freeze? Yes, if water is left in the water heater tank or is flowing through a tankless heater, the water can freeze.

Let’s take a look below at how we can avoid this from occurring.

What Is A Hot Water Heater

The hot water heater in your home has a big job to do. Its main purpose is to take in the flow of water from your plumbing system and heat it up. In order for your dishwasher, sink faucet, clothes washing machine, or shower faucet to dispense hot water the hot water heater must be working. In most cases, a hot water heater is located in the garage. You might also see a tankless water heater installed inside the home. Oftentimes the tankless water heater is installed in the closet of a home. Unfortunately, if a hot water heater freezes, it could potentially explode. Make sure to winterize it properly.

Hot water heater in a warm place to avoid freezing.

How Can I Protect It

When it comes to a hot water heater, there are a few things that you can do to protect it from freezing. Keep in mind that any appliance that uses water or collects water, could freeze when the temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Let’s take a look below at what we can do to avoid this issue.

  • Drain the water – turn off all power and gas to your water heater. Remove the drain plugs, and drain the water into a bucket. You might also run your hose connection and drain the water heater out into your yard. Also, consider installing freeze-protection solenoid valves. During power outages, your water heater has built-in freezing protection.
  • Install it somewhere warm – install a water heater in an interior room or a tankless water heater can be stored in a closet where it is less likely to freeze. Also, install your vents away from potential winds. This keeps it sheltered from outdoor wind chills.
  • Insulate the pipes – wrap up any external or exposed pipes with heat tape, polyethylene wrap, or fiberglass. If you aren’t able to insulate and the pipes do freeze, call a master plumber. They have tools such as a pipe-thawing machine that can rapidly thaw metal pipes.
  • Recirculation system – these systems are created to make hot water immediately available for usage. The recirculation system will keep the hot water flowing through your system during the winter months. This will keep the pipes warm and the hot water heater will not freeze.
  • Keep it running – open up your faucets so that running a trickle of water will allow your water supply to continuously flow through your hot water heater. If the flow of water is continuous it would stay hot and not be able to freeze.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know about hot water heaters freezing in the winter, let’s look at some other maintenance areas. One of those is how long for the water heater to heat up. Depending on the type of water heater you have, it can take between 30 min – 1 hour.

Next, if you find your shower water is cold and your sink is hot, there may be an issue with the water heater or a bad shower mixer valve. However, it could be many things so contacting a professional is the best route to go.

Lastly, you will want to know if the anode rod is bad. This is in the middle of the tank and protects the middle lining from explosion and corrosion. If you notice the water is discolored and rusty and the rod is corroded, then you have a bad anode rod.

Be sure to drain your tankless water heater so it doesn't freeze.

When Do I Call A Professional

When it comes to items like your hot water heater and your plumbing system. You will want to call on a local professionally licensed master plumber. They will be able to teach you how to winterize or insulate your hot water heater. Also, this will allow you to continue using it during freezing temperatures. If you don’t have a reputable master plumber, reach out to your local home inspection team. Not only can they determine our plumbing needs, but they can also recommend a reputable master plumber.


Owning a home takes a lot of responsibility. During various times of the year, the weather and climate will change. When the winter months arrive, the temperatures are typically at their coldest. If you live in an area where the temperatures can drop below freezing, you will want to ensure that your home is prepared.

If you aren’t sure how you can winterize your home, reach out to your local home inspection team. Whether you need to seal the attic more or winterize your appliances, your home inspection team will point out what the best approach is. Call Boggs Inspection Services to get your hot water heater inspected during a home inspection in Lacey, WA, and surrounding areas.

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