THE BIG FREEZE QUES­TION

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts -

Q

I have win­terised my boat, drained the calori­fier and pipes, left taps open etc, but have re­alised that the wa­ter tank is three-quar­ters full. Due to fam­ily ill­ness I can­not get back to the boat. Should I be wor­ried? FAVOURS, via the CB website

A

TONY REPLIES... It de­pends where the plumb­ing runs and what the pipes are made from. Plas­tic pipes are far less likely to split if they freeze than cop­per. If they are low down in the boat, well be­low the wa­ter­line and close to the metal hull, they will be less likely to freeze be­cause the wa­ter be­neath the ice in the canal is warmer and that warmth will travel through the hull into the boat.

The po­ten­tial prob­lem with plas­tic plumb­ing is if the wa­ter freezes it can push the con­nec­tions apart, so when it thaws you will end up with most of the tank wa­ter over the floor. How­ever, as you have left the taps open hope­fully this will al­low freez­ing wa­ter to ex­pand with­out caus­ing dam­age.

Per­son­ally I al­low the wa­ter pump to run (with en­gine charg­ing) un­til only air ex­its from the taps, I then re­move the shower mixer in case it freezes in­side, and leave it at that. If any­thing did split/push apart, only the resid­ual wa­ter in the pipes would leak out. If I wanted to leave wa­ter in the tank then I would make sure there was an air gap above the wa­ter to al­low for ex­pan­sion and turn the main valve off, to pre­vent wa­ter in the tank drain­ing via a dam­aged pipe or union.

If you have an in­stant gas wa­ter heater it’s vi­tal to drain it be­fore leav­ing the boat be­cause they freeze eas­ily caus­ing ex­pen­sive dam­age.

Turn off the main valve when you leave the boat

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