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Water Heater Safety Tank

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  • Water Heater Safety Tank

    This Gas Water heater and Safety Tank was installed in 2005 during the building of a new house by "licensed" plumbers. Recently the water heater has been making sounds like rocks rolling around when the water heater is heating water. I checked the air fitting on the top of the Safety Tank and got water, so I assume the bladder inside has a hole in it.

    While reading about installing a new Safety Tank, I read where they should "Always" be installed right side up. My existing tank got installed upside down by the plumbers. (The picture of the tank label is flipped over so you can read the label).

    I thought that being it was installed upside down I could add air to create a pocket at the top to simulate a bladder. I added air and the noise from the water heater has stopped.

    My question is: Should I buy a new Safety Tank and install it properly, meaning re-piping the cold water line and placing the new Tank right-side up or leave it as it is?

    I'm on city water with a Watts Pressure Reducing valve set at about 50 psi. I flush the water heater every year and don't get much crud out of it.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide me.
    50 gallon gas water heater and safety tank. Safety Tank is installed on the cold water line. This photo is upside down to read the label.

  • #2
    I'm not a plumber, so you can skip this post and go to the next one for opinions from experts. But for what it's worth, I installed my own thermal expansion tank (with some help from a plumber) about the same time your water heater was installed. My expansion tank is oriented the same as yours, although I don't think there's any hard rule about it as I've seen them installed the other way and even sideways. I made the choice to have the outlet at the bottom and air valve at the top so gravity would flush out any sediment in the water and it would not accumulate in the expansion tank. I might have been overthinking this decision to mount it this way, but I overthink everything

    If I were picky, my only criticism is that the tank (weighs about 23lbs when full) is entirely supported by pipe. I would put a wall bracket around it, but I live in earthquake country so I'm a little paranoid that way.

    I will be interested to hear from others on this forum how often the bladders in these things fail. If your PRV is working to keep your pressure in check, I'm surprised it failed unless there was some manufacturing defect, or it might have been overcharged when installed (just a guess).

    I think you can replace your tank as it sits now. Remember to pre-charge the tank to the correct pressure beforehand.


    • #3
      An afterthought: When you're dealing with water pressure issues for water heaters or fixtures, it's a good idea to do a pressure test for your home just to get a big picture view of what's going on with your system. If you don't already have one, you can buy a water pressure gauge at your local hardware store for under $15. Attach it to your hose bib and check the pressure. It has a second dial that shows the max pressure reached since the last reset of the dial, which is useful to check in the morning. This is an easy and inexpensive way to determine if you have a larger problem you need to deal with.

      [I learned all this by reading posts on this forum.]


      • #4
        Being your water heater is 12 years old and being a "state id say it's passed its time... The rumbling sound you hear is your water heater expanding and contracting while heated.. It's getting up there in age... Replace the water heater and expansion tank at the same time,replacing just the expansion tank won't fix your issue... Hope this helps.


        • #5
          the noise you hear is the boiling of water on the bottom of the super heated tank and mineral debris. The noise will increase when you open a faucet and the pressure drops.

          Water boils at 212 at sea level. the higher the pressure, the higher it takes to boil. drop the pressure and it instantly boils.

          A dirty heater contains the super heated minerals at the bottom of the tank that water is boiling in.

          the expansion tank helps to absorb the pressure rise when the hot water expands.

          phoebe it is


          • #6
            I thank everyone for their thoughts and comments.

            Today I installed a Watts Expansion Tank and flushed the water heater tank. The instructions on the Watts tank said it could be installed upside down so I just pre-charged it to system pressure (50psi) and screwed it on the existing riser. I attached two pictures of what I got out of the water heater tank. The first flush was about 20 gallons and so was the second. I flushed it last summer and got about the same amount. The noise has stopped in the water heater and I had about a gallon of water above the bladder in the old expansion tank.