How to fix leakages from your stainless steel water tank

So you are here to get your stainless steel water tank fixed; it’s a bummer having it damaged, isn’t it?. BUT! Be rest assured, you are in the right place, so welcome. Before getting into detail on how to fix your stainless steel tank, we’d like to lay brief emphasis on what exactly a stainless tank is and what its attributes are; its strengths, weakness and all-round qualities.

NOTE; feel free to scroll down the article if this is not needed.

Stainless steels are resolutely strong, high resistance metal alloys. They contain chromium, and are quite resistant to tarnishing and rust (Click HERE for more information on stainless steel tanks). This of-course is why people prefer using them as water tanks; they are strong, resistant to damage by high temperature, anti-corrosive to a very large extent and are quite sleek to look at; its adds a very nice touch of modern architecture and style to wherever you have them placed. But here’s the down part, they have a very high initial cost of purchase. Stainless steel tanks cost 3 -4 times as much as plastic tanks do cost initially if not more, but at the long run, stainless steel tanks are quite economical because they need little maintenance compared to what other tanks require. You can say this because they rarely get damaged and are less affected to ultra violet rays and chemical compounds.

Stainless steel tank

However, in the few cases where they happen to get damaged, its not an easy situation to overlook so the tank has to be fixed; as quick as possible too because leaving fault bare will definitely tell negatively and expand damage. Lets then look into what steps to take to have them fixed by your hands.

STEP 1; Removal of connections to tank;

Conscious repair to any form of used plumbing appliance requires disconnection of all linked pipes, connection fillings, supplies and plugs before any other process commences; although you have to have your gloves and safety wears on for this, preferably the PPE (Personal Protective Equipments). The disconnection allows proper maneuvering and accessibility to various parts of the tank without hindrance. You can also check for more leakages around the tank once this has been done.

PPE
PPE

STEP 2; Examining of tank for damage area;

To embark in any process of repair, of any kind; you need to have a good insight of what caused the damage you are trying to fix, the magnitude of the damage, measures to prevent such from happening again and finally, a solution to damage caused. All these can’t be achieved without examining the tank properly and looking into how much the impact is. A series of damages or issues can occur on a stainless steel water tank. Such damages include;

  • Cuts or punctures by high impacts.
  • Damage by fire or hot object.
  • Pinholes from improper welding.
  • Rusts or degradation.

Cuts, punctures and damage by high impact or hot objects can be rectified effectively by following the steps to come, although rusts and degradation are complex processes to combat or overturn.

Degradation is a natural process for any material, nothing and no one lasts forever; it’s a circle of life; hence, once the process starts, it’s quite hard to stop. If stainless steel tank has lasted for a long duration of time, say 50 – 70 years, and the symptoms of degradation start to creep in, such as the presence of multiple rusting spots and harsh pittings; cashing in on the tank might be your best bet.

However, if tank is fairly old and it possesses mild corrosion spots, this is more likely not nature taking its course, so corrosion can be resolved.

NOTE: Corrosion sometimes occurs as a result of using bleaches on stainless steel; please don’t. Bleaches contain chloride ions which are the most detrimental elements to stainless steel when creating corrosive compounds.

STEP 3; Gathering equipments;

With the examination of tank and its damage areas achieved, selection of the right materials and equipments required to fix faulty area of the stainless steel tank should be exercised. The gathering of equipments and materials depend on what method of repair you’re willing to implement; these proposed methods include;

  • The process involving the use of filling substances or seals
  • The process of welding (argon/ TIG welding preferably)

Materials and tools required for each method differ and will be categorized below;

PROCESS FOR WELDING PROCESS FOR FILLING SUBSTANCES
Gloves Gloves
Welder’s helmet Face masks
Shop vacuum Pressure washer
Argon gas (optional) Shop vacuum
Welding machine Resin and ketone repair solution
Electrode Acetone (optional)
Wire brush Garden sprayer
Argon welding rod/filler rods Rags
P.P.E P.P.E

 

The stated materials and tools should be gathered considering what method you think suits your requirements and can give better results. Welding is recommended but the cost of hiring a specialist for proper welds might be daunting; if you’re looking to cut cost, we suggest using the fillers/seals but they don’t tend to be as long lasting as weldings; although this has not been confirmed by research yet.

STEP 4; Preparation of work area;

Having your work area disorganized, clustered and unprepared is bad work practice; you’re literally creating a fine stage for accidents to occur and for danger to thrive. However; a few precautions can be taken, that can serve as preparation of work area for job to be done

  • All water from water tank should be drained completely from tank
  • Wearing of gloves and PPE (if this hasn’t been done already, cuttings or injury from steel tanks are quite nasty)
  • Adjusting and positioning your tank to allow for enough space to work is ideal practice and is quite vital.
  • Clearing the area of conductive, sharp or any object of any form; you don’t want to have sticks and trash cans around when trying to fix your tank; especially by welding
  • Ensuring there are no conductive wires lying around or exposed
  • Ensure they is little to no presence of water within work area
  • Prepare materials to be used; ensure ketone solution, resins and vacuum cleaners are available if filler material is your choice or assemble needed machine or tools for welding if that is your preference.
  • Recheck to ensure every tool is available and within work area

STEP 5; Drying of tank;

Draining the tank of any residual water is the next step to take. When trying to weld or having filling compounds utilized to try to fix a stainless steel tank, the presence of water in tank prevents the effectiveness of the weld or use of fillers from reaching its full potential; hence drainage of water is advised. Besides working on a tank without worrying its internal content is a good idea to us.

Opening the tap at the bottom end of the pipe and connecting to a hose can help direct water from the tank away from work area to an ideal place it can be displaced. Ensure such places are safe from erosion.

Clean the inside and external parts of the tank with pressure washer, or domestically soap and water; avoid using substances with bleach, salt or the ones that contain chloride ions.

vacuumrags

The shop vacuum can be used to suck out the remaining water from the tank. Rags can be further used to dry the steel tank although this may involve an individual entering the tank; probably a person of small size or you can just allow it dry out itself most preferably if exposed to heavy sunlight.

 

 

STEP 6; Fixing of damaged tank spot;

As we mentioned earlier, there are two proposed methods of repair that can be implemented.

Considering the use of filler substances method, the sub-steps below emphasize on how to go about application;

  • Face masks, gloves and overall PPEs are required to begin process because you’re about to begin tampering with harsh chemicals. To avoid contact and inhaling as much as possible is advised.
  • Ensure damaged area to apply filler onto tank is free from water particles and dirt.
  • Take resin compound and mix diligently with the ketone solution; in certain cases, the solution comes premixed from manufacturer
  • Input solution into the garden sprayer and apply from inside the stainless steel tank spraying the damaged area carefully
  • If by chance, the process takes time and mixture in garden spray begins to harden, add a small amount of acetone into the container to soften it again as that will dissolve the hardened resins. (The hardening majorly occurs are a result of evaporation).
  • Spray the mixed compound around the hole well and ensure hole is completely covered. if not, a secondary layer of mixture can be applied with garden sprayer to create better sealing.
  • Allow the tank to dry for about 3 – 4 days; the ketone solution evaporates during this time and resin solidifies properly to seal damaged area of tank to stop the leakages

Considering the use of welding method, argon welding is best considered to be used for stainless steel tanks because not only is it more resilient than most other forms of welding if done well, it gives a stainless outlook giving no signs on if tank was damaged beforehand. The sub-steps below emphasize on how to go about application;

  • Ensure to have PPE, gloves worn and welding helmet ready.
  • To repair leakages or large cracks, a piece of stainless steel can be provided to serve as filler if cut or crack is wide enough or you can just use filler rods
  • Use acetone to clean damage area to ensure its perfectly clean, brush can be used to scrub of dirt
  • Grind the electrode and insert it into its collet; the electrode is to be grinded until its tip is pointy especially if it’s a new one
  • Choose the settings on welding machine to specify the type of electricity required; for steel, DCEN is required
  • Turn on gas, be sure to use argon/ carbon dioxide mixture as it is ideal for stainless steel
  • Create metallic connection of some sort to allow the flow of electricity to the stainless steel tank
  • Ensure damaged area is clear of water particles or dirt
  • The simple process of welding is applied to the repair of damaged area; with the use of filler rods (for argon welding). Hold electrode in collet in your dominant hand and filler rods in the weaker one.
  • Welding of surrounding region of leakage area should be carefully done by keeping the electrode on and about an inch away from steel while welding; filler/welding rod although will be used by melting it across the leaking joints or spots
  • After weldings, the use of wire brush is used to clear welded area to check for pinholes or un-welded spots (this is typical if you’re using stick welding)
  • The use of brush-on pastes, gels, spray such as acetone can be used to clean weld marks or burns on stainless steel tank to give a clean outlook

STEP 7; Refit tank to former station if moved;

After welding, tank should be placed in the position it was moved from and reconnected. Surrounding work area should be cleared of materials and tool used with safety of surrounding objects and people in mind.

EXPLORE STEPS OF TIG WELDING PROPERLY FROM VIDEO; SIMILAR STEPS CAN BE APPLIED TO WELDING OF STAINLESS STEEL TANK