Can a Pressure Tank Freeze? How to Keep Pressure Tank From Freezing

Can a Pressure Tank Freeze

Can a Pressure Tank Freeze? How to Keep Pressure Tank From Freezing

Pressure tanks are one of the most important components of your plumbing system. Pressure tanks are responsible for delivering pressure to your water well system. If they happen to freeze during winter, you’ll quickly find yourself without running water in your home. 

Pressure tanks can most definitely freeze up when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Farenheit. Pressure tanks aren’t insulated or designed to withstand constant freezing temperatures. If water is sitting inside the tank for long enough and not flowing, there’s a good chance that your pressure tank or the pipes leading up to it will freeze.  

Because frozen pressure tanks are a fairly common problem, it’s important that you know what to do when that happens. In this article, we’ll look at what your course of action should be as well as the consequences of a frozen pressure tank, and so much more! 

What Happens if a Pressure Tank Freezes?

There are a number of problems that can occur when your pressure tank freezes. The reason it’s frozen is that there’s water sitting inside of it. When that water freezes, it expands, which can cause internal damage to the pressure tank. 

At the very least, a frozen pressure tank will likely damage the pressure bladder. At worst, the pressure tank will be frozen long enough and be full enough that it will eventually rupture or explode. While exploding pressure tanks are rare, it can happen from time to time. 

Depending on where you live, you won’t have to worry about a pressure tank freezing up. However, if you live in northern climates with harsh winters, there’s a good chance that it could happen. It’s especially likely with older homes and pressure tanks. The only way to ensure a frozen pressure tank doesn’t happen is to take preventative measures. 

How do I Keep My Water Pressure Tank From Freezing?

When it comes to keeping your water pressure tank from freezing, you don’t have many options. You can either winterize the pressure tank or insulate around it. We’ll go over how to winterize a pressure tank in the next section, so let’s focus on insulation for now. 

Insulating Your Water Pressure Tank 

  1. Insulate the Walls of Your Home 

The first thing you need to do when caring for your pressure tank is to insulate the walls around it. If your tank is located in an unfinished basement or structure outside your home, you need to insulate the walls, ceiling, and area underneath the tank. 

  1. Insulate the Water Pipe Leading Up to the Pressure Tank 

Next, make sure that the water pipes leading to and from the pressure tank are wrapped in insulation. Most of these pipes aren’t buried deep enough to keep from freezing which means you’ll have to take matters into your own hands. 

  1. Measure the Pressure Tank 

Not all pressure tanks are the same size so it’s important to know how big yours is before purchasing insulation for it. Take a tape measurer and wrap it around the pressure tank to measure its diameter. Next, measure the height and length of the tank so that you get an insulation blanket that’s large enough to wrap it in. 

  1. Wrap the Pressure Tank in Insulation 

The best and easiest way to insulate a pressure tank is to use a water heater insulation blanket. These blankets are specially designed for wrapping around round objects, and are easy to seal shut. You can purchase insulation blankets at home improvement or hardware stores, as well as the other items you’ll need during the insulation process. 

  1. Tape Insulate the Pipes Around the Tank 

With the immediate pipes around the pressure tank and the tank itself insulated, it’s time to insulate any visible pipes in the vicinity. Use insulation tape and generously wrap any pipes that you see with it. 

  1. Add a Protective Cover to the Tank

Finally, add the finishing touches of a protective cover around your pressure tank. These covers are specially made for pressure tanks and are designed to slip over the top of them with ease. 

How do You Winterize a Water Pressure Tank?

While insulating your pressure tanks and the surrounding pipes is a big part of winterizing, there’s more to it than that. To completely winterize your water pressure tank, follow the steps laid out below. 

  1. Kill the electrical power to the well pump by flipping the breaker at the main panel to the off position. 
  2. Take the female end of a garden hose and attach it to the drain valve located at the bottom of the pressure tank. 
  3. Take the other end of the hose and put it at a safe location outside of your house or building. Make sure it’s far enough away so that water doesn’t flow backwards into the structure. 
  4. Open the drain valve on the pressure tank and let water run out the end of the hose until the tank is empty. 
  5. With the bulk of the water removed from the pressure tank, disconnect the hose from the drain valve. Make sure to leave the valve open so that any drops of water or moisture that finds its way into the tank has a way to escape. Put a bowl or bucket under the valve to catch the extra water after you leave. 

Using this method to winterize your pressure tank as well as insulating it is the best way to keep it from freezing during the winter. 

Well Pressure Switch Freezing: What Do I Do? 

Your well pressure switch is just as likely to freeze up during the winter as your pressure tank. If the pressure switch freezes, it’s usually in the ON position and can lead to high pressure inside the tank. It can even cause your tank or the pipes connected to it to rupture. 

The best way to keep your pressure switch from freezing is to make sure that your tank and surrounding pipes are properly insulated. You don’t have to completely winterize the tank, but take preventative measures to keep its components from freezing, including the pressure switch. 

If you’re too late and the pressure switch is already frozen, place a small heating source next to it. You can use a hair dryer, a space heater, thermal blankets, or anything else that radiates heat. Once the pressure switch unthaws, it should open back up and your pressure tank will resume normal operations. 

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, pressure tanks and their pressure switches are finicky but essential plumbing components. Your home can’t function properly without them, which makes it all the more important to keep them from freezing. By properly winterizing and insulating your pressure tank and its components, you can avoid a catastrophic winter freeze. 

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