Understanding The Process For Adding An Expansion Tank To Your Water Heater

Posted on: 12 September 2016

If you have a hot water system that operates with a storage tank, you need to be attentive to the pressure in the system. Since water expands when it's heated, a reservoir that's holding water for heating can be at risk of severe pressure buildup. Minimize this risk by investing in an expansion tank to add to the system. Here's a look at what you need to know to add one of these tanks to your water heater system.

When Should You Install An Expansion Tank?

It's easiest to install an expansion tank when you put the water heater system in because you can map the whole system out that way. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way. You may find that you need an expansion tank on an existing system. If your hot water tank is experiencing pressure buildup, that's when you know it's time to install an expansion tank.

How Do You Install An Expansion Tank?

Installing an expansion tank isn't as intimidating as it may appear. Start by looking for the small pipe that sticks up from your hot water tank. Put some joint compound on the end of the pipe, then put a layer of plumber's tape over it. Screw a galvanized tee onto that pipe, making sure that the pipe is not only hand-tight, but positioned so the open ends of the tee face in the directions where you'll be installing the pipe.

Use a pair of pliers to give you some leverage with the tee, then turn it as much as possible to get the alignment right. If you can't get it properly lined up, you may need to shift the water tank a little bit in one direction or the other.

Apply an elbow-shaped pipe fixture to the longer pipe that sticks up from the top of the hot water tank. Use the same process as before to apply joint compound to the pipe, then cover it with plumber's tape. Screw the elbow in place. Apply some joint compound to the pipe on the expansion tank, cover the compound with plumber's tape, then connect it to the elbow, too. Make sure all of the connections are as tight as possible to avoid leaks.

When you turn the hot water heater back on after installing the tank, make sure you check all of the fixtures for any signs of seeping or leaks. If you're not confident that you could do the installation yourself, a professional like Clearwater Plumbing will be able to do it for you.