If your house is heated by warm water and radiators you probably have an expansion tank. But if the expansion tank stops working properly you could have a big problem.
Deal with your expansion tank problems as soon as possible. They can be so serious that your tank could even explode. And at the very least you could be facing a big bill to replace one.
However, a plumber can perform regular maintenance and inspection. Working with a professional will help you avoid a compromised expansion tank.
Read on to learn about five common expansion tank problems and how a plumber can help you.
5 Common Expansion Tank Problems
The benefits of expansion tanks are that they regulate the water and air pressure in the system. They are also good because they are easy to look after for most people. But, here in the Salt Lake City area, your expansion tank might develop one (or more) of the following problems. Plumbing issues can be tricky, so call in a professional if you’re unsure what to do.
1. Venting Water
Your expansion tank might start leaking water because of wear and tear to the parts of the tank. Take a look at the tank to find out where the leak is coming from.
If the leak is coming from the pipe at the top of the tank you can try tightening the fitting yourself. Use a wrench to tighten it back up, but don’t overtighten it.
If the leak is coming from the tank itself it’s a bigger problem. It’s probably not one you want to try a little DIY on.
In this case, you should call in a plumber. The plumber can assess whether to fix the tank or whether you’ll need to replace it.
2. Air Blockage
Your expansion tank is designed as a place for air to sit in your hot water system. Air is a needed element in these systems. But air can get trapped and cause what is known as a hydronic airlock.
This kind of air block can stop water from passing through the heater and the pipes. If you notice that you don’t have hot water in your radiators you probably have an air block somewhere.
Expansion tanks are meant to stop these blocks from happening, but if you still have a block, it’s probably because the expansion tank isn’t working properly. A plumber will be able to determine if you have an expansion tank problem and fix it.
3. Steel Expansion Tank Needs Recharging
There are two common types of expansion tanks. Older tanks are usually made of steel.
Steel tanks combine water and air inside them to maintain pressure. Over time the water can absorb small amounts of air. When that happens the tank will lose pressure.
The fix for this improper water/air ratio problem is to “recharge” it. You can recharge an expansion tank yourself or call in a professional.
To recharge an expansion tank you close the isolation valve, drain the water from the expansion tank, then reopen it to fill it back up with the right amount of water.
The trickiest part of this DIY fix is working out if you need to do it in the first place. It’s hard to know because you can’t see inside the tank. Because of this problem, you might find it best to ask a professional to help.
4. Not Enough Air in Diaphragm Tank
Newer expansion tanks use a diaphragm system. This type of tank includes a diaphragm that keeps the water and air apart. As a result, diaphragm expansion tanks don’t lose pressure because the water absorbs air.
The most common expansion tank problem in a diaphragm tank is losing small amounts of air through the valve. When this occurs, more air needs to be added to the tank.
Adding air is a straight forward task. Use an air compressor or bike tire pump. Attach either one with a common valve attachment. You should fill the tank to 12 PSI.
If the tank does not hold its air pressure after you complete this fix or it fills with excess water, you may need to replace the diaphragm. To determine if a replacement is needed or to have the diaphragm replaced you need to call a professional plumber.
If you spot condensation buildup on your expansion tank you should call a plumber in to check things out. Condensation is almost certainly a sign of a problem.
Condensation can cause rust. It can also lead to water dripping onto electric wires below. If left unattended for a long time, water droplets from condensation could even lead to problems with the flooring below the tank.
Because the potential cause of condensation buildup is harder to determine, we recommend you call a plumber.
Call Your Plumber to Deal with Expansion Tank Problems
Hot water systems are a great way to heat your house. An expansion tank is highly recommended if you have such a heating system. But you may encounter expansion tank problems if you do have this system in your home.
If you suspect that your expansion tank is leaking, needs recharging, has condensation buildup, or you have an air blockage in the pipes somewhere you can try to fix it yourself. If you’re not comfortable with DIY, though, or you’re not sure what the problem is, it’s better to call for help.
In the Salt Lake City area, our team of plumbers has seen it all. We know what to do with expansion tanks. We have the experience needed to diagnose the problem and get it fixed fast.
If you have an expansion tank issue and your home isn’t warm enough this winter, get in touch with us to schedule a visit. We’re open 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and you can contact us via email at any time.