Safety Benefits of a Water Heater Expansion Tank – And Important Installation Considerations

We all want our homes to be safe. Some ways we go about doing that are replacing smoke detector batteries on schedule, locking the doors at night, and installing security systems to catch intruders.

Safety Benefits of a Water Heater Expansion Tank – And Important Installation Considerations

While we’re talking about safety, you may be surprised to learn there’s an appliance in your home that is riskier than you might expect – the water heater. We’re not trying to scare you because the vast majority of the time, the water heater poses no threat. But if there’s a problem brewing inside the tank, it could quickly turn into a major safety issue. Thankfully there’s a solution that gives you additional peace of mind, and it’s called a water heater expansion tank. 

What is a water heater expansion tank?

For safety reasons, the inside of tank water heaters must stay within specific ranges for temperature and pressure. When cold water is heated, the volume expands, which increases the pressure. If that pressure continues to build and has nowhere to go, it pushes against the walls of the tank and can eventually damage the unit. In worst-case scenarios, the tank can even explode. 

To reduce this risk, every tank water heater should have a built-in temperature and pressure relief valve that opens and drains some water out of the tank. There are two potential problems with relying on this valve. First, it could get stuck, which can result in a dangerous situation. The second issue is water spilling on your floor, which can also cause damage.

A reliable solution is installing an expansion tank to your tank water heater. Think of this as an overflow tank for your water heater. So if there’s expansion due to heating and pressure builds up, some water gets moved to the expansion tank to avoid over-pressurization.

Why proper installation is important

For the expansion tank to work and provide the highest level of safety, it’s very important that the unit is correctly installed. Here are a few steps and considerations we make when installing an expansion tank to an existing water heater.

  • The expansion tank is typically installed on the cold-water inlet of the water heater
  • It should be securely supported, often by brackets or straps
  • The air charge is adjusted to match the pressure of the home’s water supply
  • Once the units are connected, bleed the air out of the water heater by running a hot water faucet somewhere in the home for about 15 minutes
  • After installation, perform regular inspections and maintenance, including checking the air charge as well the membrane in between the two changes of the tanks 

Expansion tank installation in Haven and Fairfield Counties 

At Rick’s Plumbing, we want our customers to be as safe as possible in their homes. If you have questions about expansion tanks or are interested in having one installed to your water heater, we’re here to help. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced plumbers, call us today at (203) 874-6629.