Frozen tank questions

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by mycorrado, Feb 17, 2021.

  1. mycorrado

    mycorrado New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2020
    Location:
    Dallas
    Here in Dallas..

    I have a tank in the attic pretty exposed. without power for a few days, and temps in the single digits, I think it is frozen. when power comes on, it immediately starts making a hissing/crackling noise.

    1) do tanks burst when frozen?
    2) would it be safe to power it on (breaker), to thaw it or best let it thaw slowly/drain it when temps come up?

    Thanks
     
  2. PlumbNuts

    PlumbNuts SC Licensed Plumbing Contractor

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    Owner, Plumbing Repair Service
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    Fort Mill,SC
    NO! Do not power up...
    Can you get a space heater in there to help safely warm the tank?

    If the heater is making the popping and hissing noises you stated then you need to get the water flowing before turning on the power.

    The tank CAN burst but is less likely than the pipes that are connected to it. The other issue would be burning up the elements if the tank has air in it which could be possible based upon the noises.
     
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  4. fitter30

    fitter30 Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully the heater has a safety pan under it. Put a drain hose on tank, open all the valves when system is melted turn water back on baby steps could be more than one break.
     
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  5. mycorrado

    mycorrado New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2020
    Location:
    Dallas
    Thanks for all the replies, It did not leak. I waited for a few days of warm weather and it powered up fine, no leaks. Whew!
     
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  6. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Retired
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    You did not mention if it is a gas or electric water heater. If it is a gas unit, minerals build up on the bottom of the tank and creatures some insulation with a lot of pockets. For gas units it starts up is just like a tea kettle on the stove, you'll hear hissing before the boil. In a gas WH the heat gets trapped inside the minerals and those little pockets of water start to heat up faster than the rest of the tank, thus causing a crackling sound, same as a tea kettle. https://sensibledigs.com/water-heater-noise/

    Another for gas is condensation. If the water is cold enough and you first fire up the burner, moisture will condense on the outside bottom of the tank and will drip onto the hot burner causing a pop noise as the water droplets turn to steam.

    For electric, minerals deposits on the electric elements and it will do the same thing, create a hiss noise when first powered up provided they are covered with water.

    For both when new they'll make very little or no noise when heating.
     
  7. PlumbNuts

    PlumbNuts SC Licensed Plumbing Contractor

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    Owner, Plumbing Repair Service
    Location:
    Fort Mill,SC
    Fair question, I just assumed that when he said he "lost power" and if he "turned the breaker on" he was talking about an electric.
     
  8. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
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    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    Yeh, it's been over 30 years that I had a gas WH. I forgot they can run no power unless it is a new model with some electronic control and a power vent. There was a post not long ago with a picture of a gas water heater in the attic space from someone in Texas.
     
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    New England
    If the water in the tank actually froze, when it expanded, it at the least, probably cracked the glass coating and it will likely rust through and leak sooner. I’d budget to replace it when that happens, likely sooner than later. An anode can only help so much.

    If you look closely at the water I/O pipes, are they still nice and straight? If the tank freezes and expands the tank, it often ends up making those pipes not point straight up...hard to tell if you have flexible connections, but easy if they’re rigid.
     
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