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Hummer Knowledge Base

The Hummer Knowledge Base

Block Heaters

There are several types of engine block heaters. Most heat the block by heating the antifreeze. There are two types of those, one is simple resistor, sort of like a toaster, plugged into one (or more) of your freeze plugs holes. The other is a thermosyphoning heating element which is mounted externally and can be used to run the cabin heater in addition to heating the block.

The second type heats the oil rather than the antifreeze and some are as simple as a probe inserted in the oil dipstick tube with a wire run from there. I have seen several of those in a 12V model which, I guess, means you have to strike some sort of balance between heating your block and draining your battery.

There are a lot of benefits besides starting to using a block heater. For one, if you have a toasty warm block for every start, you virtually eliminate the wear associated with cold starts which is the major portion of wear you will encounter in your engine's bearing life. A good block heater is the poor man's pre-oiler.

Another very significant benefit is that it eliminates the condensation that accumulates on cylinder walls and other internal parts once you shut down and the block cools. That water sitting on the bare metal will actually etch the metal .030 or so and is a non-negligible factor in engine cylinder wall/ring sealing and overall life.

With clearances being critical in race engines I have had many that were on block heaters whenever they were shut off from the very first time they were ever fired until the day they were junked.


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