No home disaster is quite as frustrating as a hot water heater leak. When the storage tank on your hot water heater springs even just a tiny leak, you’re liable to come downstairs to an indoor swimming pool! If your water heater breaks and doesn’t have an automatic shut-off valve, it will continue to take water into the storage tank, trying to fill up the 40 to 80 gallon device — of course, none of that water can be properly heated, since it’s all leaking out into your basement or utility room!
Before we talk about the advice in the above video, let’s talk about water heater expansion tanks and why they are important:
Like most substances, water expands when heated. Your conventional water heater has to heat water several times a day, since hot water is generally in heavy use in an active household several times over the course of a 24 hour period — think of how much hot water gets used when everyone in your family lines up for their morning showers, or when you’re cooking and washing the dishes at night. Every time the hot water in your storage tank is depleted, it needs to be refilled. That means that cold water gets brought in and heated to the pre-set temperature (generally around 120-140 degrees).
The problem, then, is thermal expansion. When the heated water expands, it increases the pressure inside of the tank. When the pressure in a storage tank built up in the past, it would simply push some of the water back to the public water main — out of the house, thus relieving the tension. But that technique is outdated, because so many public water mains have check valves that do not allow the water reverse. This prevents backflow disasters, but places extra strain on your tank. This is why you might need a water heater expansion tank.
Some water heaters, especially commercial units, require multiple expansion tanks, like the ones above.
As you saw in the video, a water heater expansion tank is an external tank that is connected to the water heater. When pressure builds up to highly in the storage tank for your water heater, the expansion tank allows the compressed water and air to escape — dramatically reducing the pressure on your water heater and improving its lifespan.
Water heater expansion tanks are, as Jim said in the video, mandatory for tank installation in some areas. Some manufacturers will void the warranty on your product if it isn’t there. So look into water heater expansion tank installation from the Twin Plumbers or your own local plumbing company today, and save yourself the risk of having your water heater crack under the pressure!
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