Most people don’t think about their hot water heaters until something goes wrong, why would you! The danger is once something “goes wrong” you could be looking at something as simple as no hot water in the shower or as life threatening as a carbon monoxide leak. Luckily there is a simple fix you can make that will eliminate most serious problems.
Expansion tanks are used to prevent water leaks from your hot water heater. When your hot water heater turns on, the water within the piping system begins to expand. Without the expansion tank, the expanding water can create too much pressure on the heater and potentially fail. If you have an expansion tank the expanding water enters the expansion tank.
The expansion tank contains compressed air and a rubber “bladder” that holds the water until needed. Eventually, the hot water is drawn from the system thru a faucet and the expansion tank releases the extra water into the piping system to be used by you.
Fairfax County recently passed a new county code requiring that all hot water heaters have an expansion tank installed if any maintenance is done to the water heater.
What does this mean for you? If your hot water heater needs maintenance for any reason, the contractor sent out will be required to note that there is no expansion tank and will be required to install one if any work is done to the hot water heater. Depending on the size of your water heater, this installation (parts and labor together) typically runs between $150-$250.
In Loudoun, Arlington and Alexandria counties the expansion tank is only required if the whole system is being replaced. Most water heater specialists will recommend you install the tank but it is not required.
The diagram shows you what a hot water heater and expansion tank look like and how they work. If you have more questions regarding the mechanics you can reach out to our Client Advocate department who will direct you to a professional water heater specialists.
It may seem like a hassle to worry about but the expansion tank has some great money saving benefits you may not even realize. Not only are you preventing future leaks with this investment, you’ll also see a reduction in your water bill each month! The extra water that you don’t use is no longer pushed back into the water main supply, instead it is held in the tank for your later use!
Investing in a expansion tank could be one of the easiest, cheapest, “bang for your buck” home improvement fixes you can make. While your home is tenant occupied it is important to consider their safety as well as yours when you return. For a very low price you could potentially be saving your family from a disaster. For more information please contact our Repairs Department at Repairs@McGrathRealEstate.com.