Expansion Tanks: Common Problems And Plumber Tips On How To Avoid Them | Myrtle Beach, SC

Expansion Tanks: Common Problems And Plumber Tips On How To Avoid Them | Myrtle Beach, SC

Photo  By knowlesgallery at istock

Most homes in Myrtle Beach, SC, with water heaters have an expansion tank. The tank is attached to the water heater’s supply line to handle the thermal expansion caused by hot water to prevent excessive water pressure.

High water pressure can damage valves in the plumbing components, links in supply pipes, and even destroy the water heater itself. An expansion water tank helps relieve water pressure from the system by handling the thermal expansion of water.

Sometimes expansion tanks may stop working, resulting in chaos in your home. Such issues require the immediate attention of a plumber because when left for long, they can lead to the expansion tank exploding.

Some of the signs that can indicate your expansion tank is failing include leaking temperature and pressure relief valve. To avoid such problems, it’s best to have a professional conduct regular inspection and maintenance to ensure your expansion tank is not compromised. In this blog post, we’ll explore the common problems of a failing expansion tank and how to avoid such issues.

Venting Water

Old expansion tanks are bound to experience tears and wear in crucial areas, leading to water leakage. When you notice some leaks, it’s advisable to keep a close watch on the expansion tank to locate the source of the leak.

Sometimes the leak could be emanating from the pipe located at the top of the expansion tank; in such cases, you can quickly tighten the fitting using a wrench, but be careful not to over-tighten it.

However, for complicated issues, it’s recommended to engage a plumber in Myrtle Beach, SC, to inspect the problem and fix it professionally. If the expansion tank is too old, it will be advisable to replace it.

Air Blockage

Air is required for all water systems, and an expansion tank is not an exception. The tank is designed to ensure air stays within the hot water system. But in some cases, a hydronic airlock can occur when the air is trapped, preventing water from flowing via the heater or pipes. When your radiator has no water, you could be experiencing an airlock.

Although an expansion tank aims to prevent air lock problems in your water heater, you may experience such trouble when the expansion tank isn’t functioning normally. A qualified plumber would help determine whether the tank needs to be repaired or replaced.

Steel Tank Needs Recharging

Steel hot water tanks don’t have a diaphragm; therefore, you may experience unbalancing problems between water and air. Since air and water have to combine to maintain pressure, water will absorb air, leading to an unbalanced air-water pressure.

You’ll have to hire a plumber to recharge the hot water steel expansion tank if this occurs. Some individuals may prefer to take the DIY approach to recharge the tank. They start by closing the isolation valve, followed by draining water out of the expansion tank. Then they reopen it for a refill with the correct quantity of water.

However, when you take the DIY approach, you may not see the inside of the tank, thus it’s wise always to involve a qualified plumbing company.

Insufficient Air in the Diaphragm Tank

Modern expansion tanks have a diaphragm system to separate water and air. When the diaphragm expands, no pressure is lost because water will absorb air.

Still, modern expansion tanks come with challenges. In a diaphragm tank, small quantities of air are lost via the valve, and in such cases, you’ll have to add more air into the tank. All you have to do is to pump air into the tank using an air compressor or a bike tire pump and fill the tank to 12 PSI.

Sometimes the tank may not be able to hold air pressure after it’s filled up with excess water. In such instances, you will have to replace the entire diaphragm. You can hire a competent plumber to assess the problem and determine whether you need to replace the whole diaphragm or fix the issue.


Condensation is among the reasons why some expansion tanks fail. It leads to rust and even causes water to leak into the electric wires.

Therefore, it would be best to contact a plumber immediately when you notice any buildup in condensation.

Failure to address condensation issues might affect the flooring under the tank. Condensation problems are challenging to determine; thus, regular maintenance can help detect and avoid such issues.

Avoiding Expansion Tank Problems

Although expansion tanks have a short life span, with consistent maintenance, they can last you for at least 5 to 10 years. To avoid the problems mentioned above, you can apply some of the tips below:

Feel the tank: The expansion tank’s top and bottom can help you detect some common problems. For instance, the top of the expansion should be cool while the bottom part should feel warm. The moment you notice the temperatures at the top and bottom feel the same, then it’s time to look for a plumber as it may be a sign of an underlying problem.

Beware of condensation: When left for a long time, condensation can be dangerous and costly, especially if the water heater is near electrical devices.

Replace a faulty tank promptly: Your home and family are at significant risk when the expansion tank has issues. Immediately you notice your expansion tank is not functioning at 100 percent, ensure to contact a plumbing company to repair or make arrangements for a new expansion tank.

Conduct a tap test: The sound produced by the expansion tank when you knock or tap it can reveal a problem that could go unnoticed for some time. For instance, a ringing or hollow sound indicates air inside, and a dull sound signifies that the tank is filled up with water and needs a replacement.

Monitor the pressure release valve of the water heater: If there is excess pressure for the tank to handle, the release valve will let out water. A plumber will recommend a replacement where the release valve isn’t functioning correctly or constantly leaking. To avoid the expensive replacement costs, it’s wise to upgrade the expansion tank before it completely fails.

It’s Time To Call a Pro

Suppose you are looking to maximize the life expectancy and efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. In that case, installing an expansion tank will go a long way in regulating water pressure and preventing expensive damage.

However, you may encounter common problems such as leaking, condensation buildup, and air blockage. Not to worry, though; In Myrtle Beach, SC, our licensed plumbers have seen it all. They know everything about expansion tanks and will diagnose and fix your problem quickly. Contact us at Benjamin Franklin of Myrtle Beach today.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.