Oddly enough, in this latest cold wave where extremely low temperatures have been recorded (-15º C in many cities), users with liquid refrigerations who have had no foresight have been able to see how their RL had literally frozen. As it seems that this has happened to more than one user, we are going to know the procedures that we must carry out in order not to damage our PC.
We must take into account the fact that each liquid will have a different freezing point and that each type of tube will react to cold in a different way. Therefore, we are going to try to discern the steps to follow so that our PC comes out of this curious problem unscathed.
The type of liquid will be the trigger to know the extent of the damage
The first thing we must take into account is precisely the type of liquid we have in our PC. And it is that as we saw in another specific article on liquids, their bases are really different and therefore we will have to be very careful when thawing.
In any case, being water-based liquids, whether or not they have glycols, we must bear in mind that the fact that said liquid freezes supposes an internal expansion in every component of the PC where the water runs through it.
That is, the blocks, pumps, tanks and radiators, in addition to accessories such as flow meters and others, are being subjected to an increase in internal pressure of between 4% and 10% in the vast majority of cases.
Those that have glycols will expand less, but it is true that the properties of the liquid could change when it thaws. The other liquids based clearly on water will freeze earlier, below 0 degrees since the temperature coefficient to function correctly is always in positive degrees.
In these cases of freezing they are called volumetric expansion and it has serious consequences for the PC. You just have to bear in mind that the ice can fracture rocks of different materials and densities without problems when it is inside it as water and then change its state, so unless we opt for full metal blocks, we are going to have problems.
Frozen liquid refrigeration, this is how we should act in this case
In the first place, and being as obvious as it is intelligent, we should NOT turn on the PC under any circumstances, in fact, we must turn it off from the power either with the power switch or by removing the cable.
With this in mind comes the second step: do not touch anything inside the tower, be it a tube, block, component or similar, you simply do not touch anything. To this must be added the fact that it would be ideal not to move the PC, since twisting could cause multiple failures.
The only thing we are going to do is give ourselves access to the main components of liquid cooling, either by opening the door, removing the window or similar, always with the utmost care due to the aforementioned structural torsions.
Steps to unfreeze the PC
We are going to get rid of the idea of defrosting it due to the heat generated by the components, because then turning on the PC with the frozen liquid will cost us hundreds of euros, if not thousands, as the slightest problem finds.
If the tubes are flexible, the options are greatly reduced, since with a rigid tube we can heat the liquid little by little and gently with a hair dryer for example, but in no case use a stripper or similar.
But if the tube is soft, these methods do not work, since the deformity of the tube at temperatures above 40 degrees could even cause a leak. What we will do will be the most obvious: let the water or used liquid defrost with the sun or the passage of the day, always putting the PC in a moderately hot environment.
Once the tubes have thawed, it is the turn of the CPU and GPU blocks (in the case of having them cooled). For this, we will first have a cloth, napkins or any other adherent material with which to dry the possible leaks that we will have.
O-rings suffer a lot, as does plexiglass, not to mention borosilicate. The most likely in these cases is that you have leaks due to excessive pressure, so better safe than sorry.
The radiator could have some in its fins, not in the tanks, so we will have to be careful that there are no leaks of any kind before turning on the PC. Do not trust at this point thinking that the radiator is the hardest, because normally it is not usually like that, and most have drops produced by this.
Of course, do not start the pump under any circumstances, it will be a new motor for sure.
A dry and warm place is all that is needed
Logically, we could hit the PC with a dryer or heat gun, but then we run the risk of going from solid to liquid to gas more quickly, launching a new volume into the system that is absurd.
All you have to do is take the PC to a warm place and if possible dry, to let it thaw there, knowing that almost certainly as this process takes place we will begin to leak.
By then it is better that we start to empty the circuit and leave the affected components