Nelson Service & Support

Nelson 700 Series (All Models 700 & 760) Horse & Livestock Waterers

Freeze-Up – Nelson 700 Series Automatic Waterers

If it is a cold day and the water is not refilling it is likely that freeze-up has occurred. Water freeze-up is usually attributed to 1 to 3 causes.

  • Power failure
  • Heater thermostat failure
  • Or water line freeze-up

Examine the drinking bowl can provide clues as to what caused freeze-up. If there is water but no ice in the drinking ball it is likely that the heater is working and the water lines frozen. If there is ice and no water the freeze-up may be attributed to

  • Heater
  • Or thermostat failure
  • Or power failure

The heater and thermostat function but there was no electricity to the water. If there is no ice or water in the drinking bowl remove the drinking bowl and examine the heater to determine if it is working. Remove the cover and drinking bowl to visually inspect the heater. If temperatures are below freezing, the heater should be cycling. The colder the outside temperature, the longer the heater will remain on during the cycle. If the heater is functioning, the crossbeam under the direction both should be warm or even hot to the touch, so be careful. If the heater is not working, verify that there is power to the water. If there is power to the water, please review the section testing the heater and thermostat.

Power failure is often the result of forgetting to turn the power on. Waterers are typically placed on a separate circuit and sometimes the circuit is turned off in the warmer months. Sometimes the circuit is never turned on for new installation and it is also possible that the circuit could be overloaded and the fuse may have blown.

Use of a ground fault interrupters or GFI can lead to freezing because GFI can be very sensitive and are subject to frequent nosiness trips. As in January 2000 national electric code is not required to use a GFI for automatic waterers.

Waterline freeze up can result from several conditions including inadequate heat wells size, obstructions in the heat well, air gaps between the mounting base and the waterer and the bowed waterline. The most effective method used to protect the riser pipe from freezing is to utilize the earth heat. Ground heat is obtained by digging a hole, otherwise known as a heat well directly below the waterer. The earth’s heat naturally rises and circulates around the waterline protecting it from freezing. The wider and deeper the heat well the more ground heat can be obtained.

Freeze-up can occur if the heat well is not large enough. Instruction instructions state that when using ground heat to protect the riser pipes from freezing if is necessary to extend 8 to 10 inches diameter hole, 4 or more feet below the frost line. For example if the frost line is 4 feet the hole should extend out 8 or more feet. If heat does not generate enough ground heat to protect the waterline from freezing. You can purchase Nelson’s waterline insulation accessories 1004 direct from the factory. It retains the heat at the waterline, while allowing ground heat to rise and circulate around the waterline. Waterline freeze-up can result from the heat well being blocked with an obstruction. It’s not uncommon for peo-ple to chock off the heat well by filling the hole with insulation, sand or dirt. This prevents ground heat from circulating and causes the waterline to freeze.

Air gaps in the insulation can expose the waterline too cold outside air and lead to freeze-up. It’s com-mon for freestanding models to have air gaps between housing in the concrete base. Seal the air gaps by caulking with an all-weather sealant where the water and base contact. It’s common for models mount-ed to the wall to have air gaps underneath where the waterline comes into the waterer and in the back where the waterer mounts against the wall.

Air gaps in these areas can freeze the waterline and also cause the heater to run excessively, substantial-ly increasing the cost of operation. Gaps underneath the water can also allow easy entry for mice. Ma-terial used to seal the air gap depends on the size of the gap. Sheet metal and/or caulking with an all-weather sealant may be necessary. A waterline that has been bowed and makes contact with the wall of the heat well or mounting base can freeze at point of contact. Insert insulation between the wall of the hole and the waterline of contact is unavoidable. Locating heat tape or heat cable too close to the water thermostat can warm the thermostat preventing it from activating the heater when the temperatures are cold.

Conversely heat tapes often comes with thermostats. If the heat tape thermostat is located too close to the waterer heater the heat tape may not be activated when necessary. Waterline freeze-up can result. Do not allow the copper water spout tube to come in contact with the cover. Water may freeze a point of contact. The two maybe bent slightly to eliminate contact or be covered with electrical tape to insu-late.

The water level in the drinking bowl should be adjusted such that water does not come into contact with the cover. The aluminum cover may conduct heat from the water, causing the water to freeze.