Does Your Water Heater Need an Expansion Tank?

Water Heater Expansion in Dayton, OH

If you’ve recently purchased a new construction home in Dayton, Ohio, your hot water heater may need an expansion tank. Although older homes were often built with open-loop plumbing systems, most new properties are not. When hot water expands within their water heaters, it has absolutely nowhere to go. When it is trapped inside these units, the resulting pressure can cause serious problems. Following is everything you need to know about hot water heater expansion tanks, including whether or not your home requires one.

What Is a Hot Water Heater Expansion Tank?

As the temperature of water rises, it expands. This is referred to as thermal expansion. Given that water heaters can only contain a finite amount of water, thermal expansion makes it necessary for extra water and the related pressure to have a place to go.

Open-loop plumbing systems accommodate this expansion by allowing additional liquid and pressure to flow back into their supply lines. Closed-loop plumbing systems do not. They provide a single path that water can flow into while blocking the way back out. These plumbing systems are designed to prevent water from moving in the reverse direction and from re-entering municipal water lines.

An expansion tank is a smaller, secondary tank that’s connected to the water heater tank. It looks quite a bit like a propane tank, but it has a threaded pipe connection at its base and a valve on top. Adding expansion tanks to water heaters in homes that have closed-loop systems prevents thermal expansion from damaging their plumbing fixtures, supply pipes, plumbing valves, and water heaters.

Your Plumber Can Help

Hot water heater installation must be done according to the local building code. Moreover, these projects must be permitted. Given that you cannot tackle this job on your own, you can count on one of our plumbers to tell you whether or not an expansion tank is necessary.

If your home has a closed-loop plumbing system, having an expansion tank will prevent a host of costly issues. The only time in which an expansion tank is unnecessary in a closed-loop system is when homeowners install point-of-use hot water heaters rather than traditional water heaters with reservoir tanks.

Your Current Expansion Tank May Need to Be Replaced

While hot water heaters are typically rated to last between six and 13 years, hot water heater expansion tanks last just five to eight years. Thus, even if your hot water heater already has an expansion tank, it may be time to have this unit replaced. Your plumber will regularly check both the age and efficacy of your hot water heater’s expansion tank during your annual plumbing inspection.

If you have questions about your water heater, we have answers. At Butler Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve been serving residents of Dayton, Ohio and the surrounding area since 1949. We offer heating, cooling, plumbing, and indoor air quality services. We also provide water heaters, water softeners, and expansion tanks. Give Butler Heating & Air Conditioning a call today!