What Is a Water Heater Expansion Tank and What Does It Do?

A water heater expansion tank is a small tank attached to the water heater unit. The primary function of a water heater expansion is to handle excess water buildup in case water pressure increases exponentially.

By doing this and taking in the excess hot water, the water heater expansion protects the plumbing fixtures and valves in your home. It also prevents exploding of any water line that may both be dangerous and expensive to fix.

When the expansion of water happens thermally, this expansion tank stops the increase in water pressure.

A rubber valve divides the water expansion tank into two parts.

The top part of the water expansion tank ensures a steady flow of water, while the latter half is made up of air pressure. It is this air pressure that enables the water heater expansion tank to soak in the additional pressure from the water heater, thereby keeping all the other plumbing fixtures safe and sound.

What Does a Water Heater Expansion Tank Do?

A water heater expansion tank has two key functions. Firstly, it soaks in excess water emanating from the water heater. Secondly, it ensures that fluctuations from the water pressure are kept in check to prevent any sudden shocks.

According to regular estimates, fifty gallons of water can expand up to one hundred and twenty gallons when heated. In the absence of a water heater expansion tank, this additional volume of water will severely dent the plumbing fixtures in your home and damage the drain pipes, sometimes even causing them to burst.

Do I Need a Water Heater Expansion Tank?

If you have a closed plumbing system that prevents hot water from flowing into the main supply source of water, there will be a sudden increase in the pressure in your plumbing system due to thermal expansion.

This may be harmful. Hence, you need a water heater expansion tank to carry the hot water. Many municipalities mandate their residents to get one anyway.

Another key consideration in this regard is that your water heater’s manufacturer may not offer you any warranty on the product if you have a closed plumbing system since the chances of a rupture are higher.

The only way you can avoid having a water heater expansion tank is when you have a tankless water heater. Furthermore, if your home has an open plumbing system wherein the excess water runs down to the municipality’s water supply, you may avoid it.

How Long Will the Water Heater Expansion Tank Last?

The shelf life of a water heater expansion tank is unpredictable to give you an honest answer. The range is broad and you may expect it to last you anywhere between two and eight years. The quality of the water, the brand and the tank’s inflation often have a key role to play in determining the longevity of the expansion tank.

Where Should the Water Heater Expansion Tank Be Located?

You don’t have to put your water heater expansion system close to your water heater. It can be located anywhere on your plumbing system. The most obvious place it is installed is near the cold inlet.

However, if you want, you can change this. You only need to ensure that there is a proper connection between the water heater and the expansion tank.

What Are the Benefits of a Water Heater Expansion Tank?

There are many benefits of getting a water heater expansion tank beyond the obvious ones. To begin with, it extends the lifespan of your water heater by managing the excess water flow efficiently.

You will also witness a reduction in plumbing costs as instances of repairs and works will decrease significantly after the installation of a water heater expansion tank in your closed-loop plumbing system.

If you are facing a problem with dripping faucets and running toilets, getting a water heater expansion tank will give you respite. Therefore, prevent your plumbing fixtures from getting wasted before time by getting the expansion tank installed.

Lastly, a water heater expansion tank will enable you to use a lot more hot water than before that would otherwise go to waste.

The Final Word

If you have a closed-loop plumbing system, it is highly recommended that you install a water heater expansion tank to prevent any accidents and casualties related to hot water expansion and any subsequent pipe bursting in your home. Trust us, you will save a lot of stress (and money) by doing this!

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