Severe winter weather conditions can cause a host of problems in your home and neighborhood. One aspect of these conditions that is not addressed very often is the potential damage to water treatment systems. Many people have their water treatment equipment, such as water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and water filters installed in colder areas of the home. This could be the garage, a utility room or a basement and freezing could easily occur below 32℉. Here we will examine this situation in more detail and provide some possible solutions that you can try to prevent any damage.
Water Treatment Equipment in the Garage
Water treatment equipment installed in a garage can be a challenge in colder weather when it has water flowing through it. Water will freeze below 32℉, and the situation can be complicated due to a number of factors, such as failing seals, under door gaps and people leaving the garage door open for too long. If a garage door is left open for only a few minutes in bad enough conditions, it can easily burst a water softener. If this happens, your insurance company may not cover the cost to replace your water softener and other equipment.
If you need to use your garage consistently over cold winters, there are a couple of options. Firstly during the warmer months, you could relocate your water treatment equipment to an area that will be warmer during the winter. Secondly, you could install a garage heater to keep the temperature above freezing and protect your equipment. If you install a heater make sure that your seals are intact or your heating efforts will be far less efficient. A good internal temperature for a garage is around 50F, but this will only work if the door is kept closed and door opening should be kept to an absolute minimum.
Keeping the Systems Warm
Remember the key temperature to look out for is 32F. If the temperature falls lower, the pipes will begin to freeze, and the water treatment equipment could be damaged. It may be possible to keep your systems safe by figuring out a way to keep the pipes and equipment warmer during winter. Insulating tape can be wrapped around pipes and insulation could be used to cover the water treatment equipment. This can vary a great deal in effectiveness, and a heater may also be needed to keep things nice and warm. Resist the temptation to apply a source of heat too close to your equipment and water pipes. This could melt any plastic parts and create a situation that is just as bad as the freezing conditions that you want to avoid.
The damage to your water treatment systems in cold conditions in a hard freeze is caused by the expansion of ice. If this occurs, it’s likely that the structural integrity of your equipment is compromised. If you’re lucky, a repair may fix the problem, but it’s more likely that a replacement will be needed. Always check with your insurance company to see if you’re covered because this equipment could be expensive to replace. If you’re in any doubt about where to install a new water treatment system contact a local water treatment specialist for expert advice.
By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University. He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)