Properly winterizing a water tank is crucial for protecting it from freezing and should be done prior to the cold setting in. Here are a few tips on winterizing your water tower this season.
Prior to freezing temperatures, make sure to thoroughly inspect the tank for any necessary repairs. Ensure everything is working properly, there are no leaks, and the vents remain open. Fixing leaks is especially important, as the ice can worsen it due to expansion. If a vent or overflow screen is blocked, it must be cleared or there is a risk of the roof being sucked in during a rapid draw-down of the water level. It is important to regularly check that the vent hasn’t frosted over throughout the winter. Keep in mind that while it may be a hassle now, it would be an even bigger problem and more expensive later if not taken care of.
Create a Gameplan
Assess previous years’ water usage and discuss a game plan with your team. Check to see if you have made any changes that could affect your water usage (such as a business shuts down), as water turnover is crucial in preventing the tank from freezing over. The plan should factor in water level, water movement, local regulations, fire protection requirements, and any features engineered or installed in the tower to help mitigate ice formation. Make sure your building or valve pit heaters and recirculation lines are operating properly, as well, and include regular checkups in your game plan.
Install a Mixer and/or a Temperature Probe
There are many benefits to installing a mixer in your water tank. We wrote an article that goes more in depth on it here, but one of those benefits is that a mixer can help mitigate the formation of ice. Water tanks need continuous movement to mitigate ice formation, similarly to how it is important to flush pipes. This allows warmer water to mix with the colder water in a tank, maintaining an above-freezing temperature. The mixing can also break up any ice formation in the tank. While there is a chance of the tank freezing over in a deep freeze or if there is a power outage, a mixer should work well for an average winter. Temperature probes help identify different water levels temperatures.
Engineering and Design
When designing a water storage tank located in a zone at risk for freezing, your engineer should incorporate a heating system surrounding the riser. If your tank currently has a heating system, double check that the heat tape does not need to be replaced. As a general rule of thumb, heat tape should be replaced based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, or if it starts to show signs of deterioration. Recirculation lines in the inlet pipe should be checked to make sure they are operational, as well.
If you are unsure of where to start, consulting an engineering and inspection firm can help. KLM Engineering is highly experienced in facilitating communities to prep their water towers for the winter months. Give us a call at 651-773-5111 to plan and help resolve any potential issues!