Hot Water Heater Expansion Tank

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When Is It Required In Texas

What Is This Tank? How to Replace and Maintain a Water Heater Thermal Expansion Tank

An expansion tank is always highly recommended if you have a closed-loop system caused by any kind of check valve or pressure regulating valve installed on your houses water supply line.

A common illustration compares having high water pressure in your home to having high blood pressure. It usually doesnt have immediate negative consequences. However, the long-term wear and tear of this excess pressure can reduce the life expectancy of everything in your plumbing system. The weakest parts of the system are usually the toilet fill valves, the supply lines, and the solenoid valves found in washing machines, dishwashers, and ice makers. These are much more likely to fail prematurely when exposed to high water pressure.

If you have excess pressure over 80 P.S.I. supplied to your home by the city water supply, an expansion tank by itself does nothing to correct this. Thats the job of the pressure reducing valve . When the pressure supplied to your home is at the proper level between 40 and 80 P.S.I. and you have a PRV or check valve, thats where the thermal expansion tank comes in. It protects against the constant fluctuation of high pressure caused by thermal expansion upon a closed-loop system.

Check with your citys plumbing inspector to be sure of the applicable plumbing codes in your area.

How The Expansion Tank Works

We all know that water isnt compressible. So when you heat water, it cant compress, thus builds up pressure as it expands. The process is referred to as thermal expansion. An expansion tank comes in to correct this issue.

All expansion tanks function by equalizing pressure in the entire system. An expansion tank is simply a smaller tank that has two sections separated by a rubber diaphragm. The first section connects to the pipes of your heating system and has water. There is also a bladder on the interior and is filled with pressurized air at 12 psi.

When hot water gets into the heating system, the system pressure automatically increases. An increase in pressure pushes down the diaphragm found in the expansion tank. As a result, the air in the tank is compressed, creating enough space for any excess water to enter.

The outcome is a relief of excess pressure from the system and ultimate prevention of damage to the pipes. In addition, the bladder restores its normal position as soon as the water starts to cool off.

The water supply lines connection to the expansion tank attaches to a Female Iron Pipe fitting and then screws onto the tank. You get a watertight seal if you add Teflon tape around the voila and threads.

Water Heater Expansion Tank: What Is It

The water heaters expansion tank is a small, yet important component that helps prevent excessive pressure from harming your home.

When heated up in the hot H2O department of any given structure , it will contract with increased force due to its size as well as thermal energy before releasing this extra strength back out again when needed most- during showers!

An expansion tank serves as a safety measure and will help protect both you and your appliances from any potential damage. It works by taking some of the extra pressure off of all of these devices. This is so they can continue working safely without causing problems with one another.

When it comes down to it, this piece provides insurance against leaks, ruptures, corrosion caused by excess heat exposure. It also protects clogging due to sediment buildup within pipes or valves. This has been tampered with or is improperly installed/maintained over time.

As you can see, this device can practically save your livelihood. Think of it as a guardian angel for your plumbing and water heater leaks. Not having one of these in cold weather climate is a big risk.

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Water Heater Expansion Tanks: What They Do & Why

If you own a water heater, the water inside will expand when heated. An expansion tank helps relieve pressure inside the water heater by providing a space for hot water to expand and release the increased pressure inside the water heater.

However, todays water system is developed to prevent any backward release of pressure referred to as backflow. There is a check valve employed in these systems to prevent the backflow.

Expansion tanks are safety devices connected to the cold water supply that helps control the thermal expansion of hot water inside a water heater. When water is heated, the pressure can rise beyond the water heaters limit without an expansion tank. Increased pressure can damage the water heater tank, supply pipe joints, and valves in plumbing fixtures. Expansion tanks provide an outlet to prevent hot water backflow and relieve pressure from the water heater.

Lets look at what water heater expansion tanks do and why they are necessary.

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What Is The Life Expectancy Of An Expansion Tank

The Plumber

The life expectancy of an expansion tank is very unpredictable.

There are many variables that can factor into how long one lasts, such as quality of the tank installed, water quality, and proper inflation of the tank to name a few. We have seen some tanks fail in as little as two years that have caused major water damage and some that have lasted eight years or longer. As a precaution, we would recommend replacing them no more than a year after the manufacturer warranty expires.

The tanks installed in this area normally have a one- or five-year warranty, so replacement should be every two to six years.

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How To Install A Water Heater Expansion Tank In 10 Steps

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

Are you worried excessive water pressure from your water heater tank will damage the unit, water supply pipe joints, and plumbing fixture valves? Did you know you can minimize these problems if you know how to install a water heater expansion tank?

Installing an expansion tank gives your primary water heater a means to minimize pressure buildup in the tank. It saves your water heater, plumbing fixtures, and other water appliances from potential damage.

Thankfully, adding a tank to your existing water heater is less complicated than you think. Let us find out.

Is An Expansion Tank Relevant If I Have A Pressure Reducing Valve

The function of a pressure-reducing valve is to reduce high pressure in your home. The valve isnt found in a house unless the pressure there is above 80 psi. However, pressure in most homes ranges between 40-75 psi.

A pressure-reducing valve is therefore not necessary in most houses. However, in cases where its essential, an expansion tank is still required. Consequently, you should contact a professional plumber to advise you on the possible solution if you find yourself in such a situation.

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Question: Should I Replace The Water Heater Thermal Expansion Valve On The Cold Water Inlet Side Of My Water Heater With A Water Heater Thermal Expansion Tank

I have a thermal expansion valve that is installed on my inlet line that is leaking, now the question that I have is, is it required to be on the inlet line . Talking to a few friends that do plumbing and they are saying that it is not required, but they recommend that I install a expansion tank.So, another question is if the system was installed without a expansion tank is it a good idea to install one are just replace the thermal expansion valve that was installed when the hot water tank was installed, are just remove the old system and install a new hot water tank system per new system directions ? So many questions, but can’t find all the answers! – C.D. 12/23/12

Check Your Work Before Restoring Power To The Water Heater

How to replace a hot water expansion tank

Open your water supply line and check the water heater and expansion tank joints for signs of leaks. If you find any, you might want to close the water supply again and retighten the fittings.

If all goes well, finish the hot water expansion tank installation by turning on the circuit breaker or the gas supply valve.

You can also observe these steps in replacing expansion tank units.

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Water Heater Parts And Accessories

Whether you use an electric, gas or tankless water heater, the right parts and accessories can help you make the most of it for longer. Find water heater replacement parts and supporting accessories to keep your unit operating to the best of its ability, with option like water heater tank expansions, heater elements, heating pans, recirculating systems and more.

Disconnect The Power Supply And Water

The first step to installing an expansion tank is to disconnect the water supply connecting to the water heater.

In case the unit operates using electric power, you should switch off the breaker. If your system uses gas, turn off the gas supply. You can contact your gas provider to help you if you dont know how to switch off the gas.

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Install The Water Heater Expansion Tank

You are almost complete with the thermal expansion tank installation.

Wrap Teflon tape around the expansion tankâs threaded fitting before fastening it to the horizontal expansion tank pipeâs threaded adapter.

Most plumbers recommend tightening the connection by hand to avoid overtightening it. Too tight, and you might damage the fittings or the pipes.

Secure the expansion tank in its mounting bracket.

When To Measure Water Heater Expansion Tank Pressure: Water Heater Should Be Cold

Why Do I Need an Expansion Tank for My Water Heater?

Watch Out: it is important that you read your city system pressure correctly. If you read it when it is already hot and expanded you will get false readings.

If you have a pressure gauge in your line, you should open one hot water valve and let the water run for 15 minutes to reduce the line pressure, then shut the valve off and then read the pressure immediately.

If you dont have a pressure gauge in your line you can easily measure system water pressure by purchasing an inexpensive pressure gauge with a fitting that will connect to a hose bibb or washing machine connection, as shown in our photo.

If you follow the above procedure with your tank installed and read the air pressure from your tank you will have an approximate system pressure. .

If the air pressure reads 50 PSI you need to shut-off your main water line, open a valve let the water out of the tank, and pre-charge the expansion tank with 50 PSI of air pressure.

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Look For The Water Pipe Supplying Cold Water To The Water Heater

The thermal expansion tank sits between the water heater and the cold water supply line. As such, it would be best to determine the water pipe supplying cold water to the water heater.

Look at the water heaterâs top section and check if you see a water tube extending upward from it. This tubing is the cold water pipe. Follow its length until you get to the pipeâs horizontal section.

Shop Water Heater Tanks At Ace

Upgrade your homes efficiency and comfort with a new water heaterfrom Ace. Find natural gas, propane, electric and tankless water heater tank options for your home, as well as the accessories you need for optimal use. Then, browse an array of other plumbing essentials, from pipe fittings and plumbing tools to winterization equipment, water treatment units and more. Unsure what might be best for your situation? Stop by your local Ace Hardware, where our helpful staff can guide you in the right direction.

Need help? Call 1-866-290-5334

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How To Tell If You Have A Closed Plumbing System

If you see a backflow prevention device connected to your main water shutoff valve, then you have a closed plumbing system.

Note: Backflow prevention devices can vary by design, but most will look similar to a device like this.

Your water shutoff valve is usually located:

  • On an outside wall

  • In a utility room or closet

If youre having trouble locating your main water shutoff valve, or you cant identify a backflow prevention device, contact a plumber. Theyll tell you if you have an open or closed system, and can provide expansion tank recommendations.

Is An Expansion Tank Really Necessary For A Hot Water Heater

Water Heater and Expansion Tank Maintenence

It’s a common question from so many of our clients.”Do I really need an expansion tank on my hot water heater?”

Thermal expansion protection is required on new water heater tanks.

Thermal expansion protection can be done 3 different ways:

  • installing a thermal expansion tank properly sized for the tank
  • using a thermal expansion relief valve
  • using a governor 80 ballcock
  • Thermal expansion is caused by changing the temperature of the water. When water is heated, water expands. So, 40 gallons of water at 50 degrees coming into the house, when it’s heated to 120 degrees is approximately 40.5 gallons of water, an increase of approximately 0.5 gallons. The excess water has to go somewhere, so it either causes leaks in the house, stretches the water pipes in supply lines, leaks out of the relief valve or pushes backwards through the meter , but basically when the water has no where to go the pressure in the system increases.

    The stress of this increased pressure shortens the life of the water heater and frequently results in pipes bursting, leaking fixtures and running toilets.

    A thermal expansion tank is a simple way to solve this problem on most smaller water heater systems. The tank is full of air. When the heater goes through a heat cycle the excess volume of water pushes into the tank and compresses the air, but keeps the water pressure the same. Air is compressible but water is incompressible.

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    How Does A Water Heater Expansion Tank Work

    When you heat up a kettle of water on the stove, eventually the kettle will begin to whistle as the pressure developing inside it blows out steam.

    Although the water in your water heater doesnt reach the boiling point and turn into steam, it does expand when heated up. This is called thermal expansion.

    This extra pressure will just get absorbed by the municipalitys water supply system and become negligible. No problem. However, if a check valve or a pressure regulating valve is installed on the water supply line coming into your home, it keeps all that excess pressure trapped in your homes plumbing system which stresses your supply lines, fixtures, and appliances.

    Thats where the expansion tank comes in. Properly installed, it absorbs this excess pressure. Half of the tank is filled with water from the main water system of your home. The other half is filled with compressed air. There is a butyl rubber bladder in the middle. As the water in your water heater gets hotter and expands, it pushes against that bladder and further compresses the air on the other side.

    Installing The Expansion Tank

    Installing the tank should be your top priority at this point. It would be best to have the tank above the pipe supplying cold water closer to the heater. You can then mark a spot and drill holes on the wall where youll mount the pipes.

    Finally, screw in the tank and connect the cold water supply line.

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    What Causes An Expansion Tank To Fail

    This can occur as a result of mineral deposits or other debris. Some older expansion tanks lack the internal bladders used in newer models. … As a result, air can escape the tank and enter your system’s water, which increases the risk of damage. When air enters the water’s heating system, a loss of heat can also occur.

    Prepare The Water Heater Expansion Tank

    The 10 Best Hot Water Heater Expansion Tank

    Unbox the expansion tank kit and lay the components on a clean surface. Most manufacturers provide a complete installation kit, including tee fittings, fasteners, and extension pipes.

    However, they may not supply you with Teflon tape and pipe joint compound. It would be wise to secure these items first before proceeding.

    Pro Tip: Study the expansion tank diagram to understand how to install the unit on your water heater.

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    American Society Of Mechanical Engineers

    Three types designed by ASME include:

    • NLA bladder type vessel specifically designed to absorb the forces of water expansion and to control the pressure accumulated in the heating system. The units are usually manufactured in stainless steel or carbon steel with a heavy-duty replaceable Butyl rubber.
    • NTA hydro-pneumatic models are diaphragm type vessels designed to separate the air cushion and system water. The system water is contained in the bladder and the air is held between the outside of the bladder and the tank wall.
    • NA/NAG is a compression type made to absorb the forces of water expansion. It also controls the pressure in the heating system. Plain steel units are installed in the area above the air separation device. Air gets compressed as the water fills up within the system on a pounds per square inch increase.

    A boiler system designer will usually help home owners determine the size of the unit required against the ratio of air to water inside the vessel.

    Water Heater Expansion Tanks: What You Should Know

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    A water heater expansion tank, also called a thermal expansion tank, is a safety device designed to protect your household plumbing from thermal expansion. The risk of pressure damage from thermal expansion is seldom a concern for tankless water heaters, but if you own a tank-style heater, your plumbing system may be at risk.

    When you consider that 50-gallons of cold water will, with the help of thermal expansion, become at least 52-gallons once it’s heated, the additional 2-gallons of water will no longer fit in the water heater’s tank. That’s where a thermal expansion tank comes in.

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