Home AppliancesWater Heater

5 Effects When Your Hot Water Heater Freezes

The Boiler Room With A Lot Of Different Equipment As A Boiler, Heater,Pipes, Expansion Tank And Other

Have you ever seen your hot water heater frozen up? The resulting mess could be dangerous if you don’t know what to do. So it’s vital to look at what happens when your hot water heater freezes and what you need to do to prevent this when it’s cold outside.


Nobody wants to think about their hot water heater freezing up on them. Of course, there are a lot of ways that could happen, but people must focus on the worst possible outcome. So here is what happens if your water freezes:

  1. The pipe and valves in your home may not work properly, possibly leading to leaks.
  2. You may not be able to turn the water on at all.
  3. Hot water heater elements can become clogged with mineral deposits, making them useless.
  4. The temperature in your home drops, and you can feel the cold coming through your walls.
  5. You have to wait for the water to thaw before it works again.

If you don’t want this to happen to your home, then preventive measures are best to prevent these problems from happening in the first place.

Do you want to know what happens if your hot water heater freezes? If so, this article will tell you what happens if your hot water heater freezes and some tips to prevent it from happening.

What Happens if Your Hot Water Heater Freezes?

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Are you noticing a change in your water? Do you feel that it is getting colder? Or if it’s not hot enough. Your hot water freezer could be frozen. Here is what happens if your hot water heater freezes.

1. Your Hot Water Heater Overheats

Your hot water heater is designed to heat water quickly. This means it may not work as well at lower temperatures, but for the most part, it will still do an excellent job of heating your water.

The only thing that could throw off your hot water heater would be an overheating condition. An overheating condition occurs when too much energy is supplied to the system.

You’ll also notice a change in the temperature of your water. It may seem like your water is scalding hot, but it’s freezing. The water could be as low as 50°F, so even if you turn on your hot water faucet and run it full blast, the water temperature won’t rise above 60°F.

2. You Have No Hot Water

If your hot water heater freezes, you will be without hot water for a few days. If you are in a cold climate, this can mean that you won’t have hot water for up to three days.

This can be a massive problem if you need hot water for cooking or bathing. This is because the heat exchanger inside the tank needs to thaw out before it can start working correctly again. You may also find that your tank has frozen completely, meaning no water is coming out at all – or very little.

3. The Water Heater Starts To Break Slowly

If you have a frozen hot water heater, the tank’s water may turn to ice. If this happens, you must do something about it immediately. Otherwise, the water heater will continue to break until it is completely unusable.

You may notice that the temperature of your water has decreased, and you will notice that the shower is not as hot as it used to be. However, as the water heater breaks down, it will continue to get hotter and hotter until it reaches a point where it cannot handle any more heat.

4. It May Not Work Correctly

The water heater will not produce hot water as long as it is frozen. If the problem is with the thermostat or the heating element, these parts may be damaged and need to be replaced.

If these parts are working, but freezing has occurred, then there could be an issue with the wiring in your home that allows electricity to flow correctly through the unit. Furthermore, if freezing occurs regularly, it could indicate a more significant problem with your plumbing system.

5. It Will Cause Damage to Pipes and Appliances

The water inside the pipes can freeze and expand. This could cause a leak in your home’s water supply and lead to an explosion if the pipes rupture and water splashes out of the faucet.

The same problem can happen with dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. These appliances contain highly combustible elements when exposed to frigid temperatures.

4 Signs That Your Hot Water Heater Has Frozen

Plumber Repairing A Hot Water Heater

Do you suspect your hot water heater is frozen? If so, it’s best to solve the problem immediately. Here are some signs that your hot water heater has frozen.

1. Water Is Taking Longer To Heat Up

If your hot water has frozen, there will be a large block of ice/snow in your pipes. It can cause water to take longer to heat up.

If you are unsure if this is the case, check the temperature of your water. If it is cold, there is a good chance that the unit has frozen and needs to be defrosted.

2. You May Hear a Gurgling Sound

If your water heater is making a gurgling or bubbling sound, you may have a problem with the heating element.

The most common cause of this problem is frost on the element, which can lead to an electrical short and be very dangerous.

If you hear this gurgling sound and notice any other issues with your hot water heater, such as leaks or snow buildup, it’s time to call a professional.

3. Your Hot Water Pipes Are Constantly Breaking

If your hot water pipes constantly break, this could indicate frozen pipes. This is because when water freezes, it expands, making it harder for the pipes to handle.

The more often the pipes break and freeze, the more likely you will have an issue with your hot water heater.

4. White Spot on Your Cold Water Faucet

If you’re noticing a white spot on your cold water faucet that is cold but not hot, your hot water heater has likely frozen. If this happens, the water from your tap will be icy.

The most common reason for this is that the temperature regulator in your hot water heater has frozen. Likely, your hot water heater has not been operating at full capacity as it should be.

Tips To Prevent Your Hot Water From Freezing

Boiler Tube For Winter Freeze Prevention

When the cold winter months set in and your hot water heater starts to freeze, you will have big problems with your hands. Luckily for you, here are some great tips that can help prevent this by allowing you to take preventive measures when it comes to keeping your water heater clean.

1. Make Sure the Water Heater Is Clean

If there is any sediment or scale buildup in the tank, it will freeze up and stop working. Cleaning your water heater should be done yearly to ensure it works properly.

Turn off the power at the main breaker for at least a few minutes before attempting to turn on your hot water heater. This step is vital because turning it on during this time could cause an explosion in your home.

Don’t let any dirt or debris get into your hot water heater. If you have pets or children, ensure they don’t throw treats or food into the tank.

2. Do Not Aim the Water Heater at the Windows

This is because turning on your water heater will warm up and start heating your home’s water. Then, it quickly becomes scalding and can cause problems if you are close to it.

To prevent this, ensure you do not aim the heater at any windows or other openings. Ensure they are clear of any items that can cause damage or injury if they get too close to the heater.

3. Use an Electric Blanket To Insulate It

Water heaters can be a significant source of heat in your home but can also be susceptible to freezing. This is why it’s crucial to ensure that your water heater is not aimed directly at windows and doors if you want to avoid frozen pipes or overflowing basins.

You should also ensure that any exterior vents are covered with insulation or other materials to prevent ice from forming.

4. Defrost the Water Tank at Least Twice a Year

To prevent your hot water heater from freezing, defrost it at least twice a year. The most effective way to do this is with de-icers. If you don’t want to use chemicals, other ways exist to get your water heater working properly.

You can also try using a hair dryer on high heat and blowing air into the hot water tank. This will help to remove any ice buildup inside the tank.

5. Always Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent your hot water heater from freezing. Most instructions will tell you how long to run the tank heater before shutting it off and how long to run it after turning it back on.

If you don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you may have a frozen water heater that can’t get hot enough to work correctly. This can lead to leaks, corrosion, and other problems that could cost you money in repair bills.


Hot water heaters are a necessary part of many homes, but an unfortunate number of them will freeze at some point. When that happens, the situation can be both inconvenient and costly.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent this from happening in the future. This article has given you all of them in plain language, so you know exactly how to avoid the problem in the first place.

It never hurts to know what happens if your hot water heater freezes and destroys the plumbing system in your home. To prevent your water heater from freezing, follow the manufacturer’s guide, ensure your hot water heater is clean, and do not set up your hot water heater near windows.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Do if My Hot Water Heater Freezes?

If your hot water heater freezes, there are a few things you should do to get it thawed out.

  1. First, turn off the breaker that controls your water heater and wait for it to cool down. If you can’t safely turn off the breaker, call an electrician or technician to do it for you.
  2. Remove any covers on the water heater and drain its tank of water. You can do this by loosening or removing its nut or bolt and letting the water drain into a bucket or other receptacle.
  3. Place a large bucket underneath it so the water can drain out of the tank more easily. You may also want to place towels around the base of your water heater so that any remaining ice does not fall on your floor.

Should I Turn Off My Hot Water Heater During a Freeze?

Yes, because a frozen hot water heater could lead to serious problems with your home’s plumbing system. Turning off the water in the tank will keep it from freezing solid and causing damage.

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