Why Water Towers Stay Ice-Free: 5 Fascinating Insights

frozen water tower

A water tower is a large water tank usually placed on an elevated metal structure to enable a stable water supply to the surrounding buildings and community.

Its primary function is to pressurize water for distribution. This water elevation above the pipes that distribute it ensures that the gravity-driven hydraulic pressure forces the water down and through the system. 

Reasons Why Water Towers Don’t Freeze

You’re probably wondering: Why don’t water towers freeze? Here are five fascinating reasons why water towers never freeze, even in winter. 

Constant Emptying and Refilling of the Water Tank

The water level in the tank typically falls during the peak usage time, often during the day. A pump then refills it during the night when usage is pretty low.

This process involves constant drainage and refilling of the water tower, preventing water from freezing even during the cold winter seasons. 

Most of the water in the tank is replaced twice a day. Heat is transferred each time water is replaced; hence the heightened temperatures lower the possibility of freezing.

The Tanks Are Typically Voluminous

Given that water towers also serve as water reservoirs, they usually tend to be voluminous to enable sufficient water storage for prolonged usage during scarcity. Physics’ fundamental law of nature dictates that a larger water body takes longer to freeze. 

It implies that water contained in larger-sized tanks has minimal chances of freezing. When the tank is refilled, the new water tends to be a little warmer than the current, thus delaying the freezing further. 

Water Heating Installations

A water heating system is a practical strategy water tower owners use to cushion freezing. They achieve this by buying an electric heating blanket that combines the heating element’s direct heat with the zero-energy insulation benefits.

Once wrapped around the tank, these handy jackets generate heat from an electric source. 

Most Water Tanks Are Properly Insulated

Proper tank insulation aids in water freezing minimization. Many people erecting water towers in areas most affected by extreme winter seasons often wrap the water tank’ top and sides with blankets made from ceramic fiber, mineral wool, fiberglass, or some other cushioning material.

These wraps are usually layered with aluminum sheets for further heat reflection as heat escapes the tank. 

Sloping Tank Covers

Flat-top tanks tend to have a gradual ice build-up due to the stagnating rain waters. This stagnation reduces the tank water temperature and increases the chances of freezing. 

Water tank manufacturers are alive to this fact and, as a result, prioritize making tanks with sloping tank covers. A sloping water tank top or cover keeps the water in the tank warmer while preventing ice formation.  


Why don’t water towers freeze? Here are some frequently asked questions.

How do water towers not freeze in winter?

The fact behind the unfreezing nature of water towers during winter is the constant water movement. Standing water is more likely to freeze than moving water. During winter, if the water in the tower isn’t going to be used for some days, it should be moved around somehow to prevent freezing. 

Does the water in water towers ever freeze?

Well, water in the water tower may freeze but not freeze solid. It may freeze to a given degree if it’s left to stagnate for many days during cold seasons. However, when kept in constant motion, water in the water tower may not freeze. 

How do water tanks not freeze?

The use of round-shaped water tanks prevents freezing. Round-shaped tanks typically have smaller surface areas than cube- and rectangular-shaped ones, providing better insulation and causing less heat loss. 

Do large water tanks freeze in winter?

No. Large water tanks do not freeze completely during winter. When a large tank is refilled with water, the new water, due to its warmness, melts the freezing water volume. 

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.