Tanks are sub fundamental housing units as they provide people with options to either store water via pumping through a borehole or extracting water from other sources; but there Is a peculiar question commonly asked on what material is best when choosing a tank primarily for water storage. The use of the plastic tanks are quiet rampant around me but are they the best? Well, added with a bit of experience on site; I made some research regarding this subject to give the best possible answer and needed details in the article to follow.
According to general consensus and researches made, plastic tanks are mostly preferred to be used within housing units and homes. This is due to its environmental friendliness, easy to use/installation process and lets be real here, its quite cheap mostly. So when you’re considering quality per cost, its pretty much the best. Stainless steel however is better, it offers more in safety, life span and resilience but its quite expensive.Aqua-plate colourbonds and concrete tanks follow right on its tail respectively.
Other materials do exist; however this articles approves to answer this question from two angles if by personal preference, you do not agree to the above choices,
- By looking into each relevant water tank materials, stating their merits and demerits
- By considering factors that assist in determining the best materials as a result of your personal preference or your unique scenario
We aim to guide your choices in making the best of water tank selection for your house.To determine the best material for your tank,the sizes of your required tank should be established at this point. Well, if you have no idea of what size of tank to consider, fortunately,we made research on tank sizes which should answer your questions thoroughly, here’s a link to check out our article on tank sizes suitable for your houses.
Materials Used in Water Tanks
- Affordable and available: Plastic tanks are considerably the cheapest and most common of all to be mentioned. Polyethylene,which is the raw material used to manufacture such tank is a solidified rubber with the ideal balance between being too brittle and flexible. It can be easily attained and can come at a cheap price depending on the dealer.
- Endurance; especially to light impact: plastic tanks are manufactured according to the codes for tank design to be able to resist impact from mechanical stress and solid objects ,should it be the case,considering the nature of the material,such resistance has a limit; a heavy enough impact would cause damage to the tank wall even when provided that the thickness of walls are designed according to design codes.However; plastic tanks endure fairly well to last a proper life time.
- Easily repairable; a polyethylene tank, if exposed to damage can be fixed by average hands. The polymers around damaged area can be phased or readjusted by usage of heat either for linear polyethylene or cross-linked polyethylene. The use of propane torch and heat guns can be utilised to loosen the molecular particles of the polymer,hence adding proper filler materials until area is completely covered; proper welding such as fusion, extrusion and spin weldings among others are recommended to be used for repair.
- Resistance to corrosion; they are relatively immune to salt water which makes them preferable when considering the amount of salt present in water drawn from source.
- Subject to damage and re-damage: Unlike steel and concrete, a direct impact from hard objects or mechanical stress caused by vibration and movement focused on a specific area of tank, may result to premature damage, which in turn attracts cost for repair, an alteration in polymer’s molecular bond due to repair causes the repaired area to have lesser mechanical properties causing it to be weaker and more likely to be re-damaged again and again.
- Degrades poorly over time with exposure to sun: Constant exposure of plastic tanks to sun rays deteriorates its particles over a long time causing reduction in strength and flexibility despite have ultra violet inhibitors.This causes plastic to break easily with lesser impact supposedly after a period of 10 to 15 years or less.
- Plastic tanks are considered unsafe; Plastic tanks such as plasticized PVC are considered unsafe in several countries due to potential hazards of plasticizers;which can possibly leach in to contained water. If water contained is required for human consumption or for growing food crops, plastic materials must comply with requirements of portable water standard of respective countries.
- Limited recyclable value: when plastic tanks degrade to a point where they most likely are not able to hold water.Plastic would have reached a point where it can only be recycled to a specific range of products thus reducing its resell-able value. If recycled, plastic cannot be used to make another plastic tank according to water regulations as only virgin plastics are required for such feat.
- Inhibits growth of algae: Constant exposure of plastic tanks to the sun allows for the growth of algae in and around the tank,provided water in it is stagnant for a substantial period of time.if contained water inhibits nutritional properties such as phosphorous and nitrogen;higher concentration of these when exposed to sunlight causes growth of algae and other green plants. Although in certain cases, this process does not require a strong amount of sunlight.
According to above mentioned points on plastic tank;although it may have its negative aspects,it is more user friendly, economical in terms of maintenance or repairs and it is relatively easy to maneuver when comparing to other forms of tank materials. Above all, it comes most likely as the cheapest, can last fair number of years and provides value for every penny.
Aqua-Plate and Galvanized Steel
- Durable; Aqua plate tanks do have great volumes of materials in making it quite long lasting over a vast period of time, at least 25 years; if properly kept, they could last up to 35-40 years or more provided the coatings and seams are well done, not tampered with and properly sealed.
- Resistant to corrosion: As regards to aqua plates, there are two sides to making sure they are resistant to corrosion. Whatever liquid is to be contained has to have a relatively low amount of corrosiveness. Although aqua plates do have internal zinc coatings, this prevents steel from being corroded by particles; high corrosiveness with liquid increases the chances of tank corroding at an extended period of time. Therefore water has to have low corrosiveness and tank has to possess zinc coatings as a resistance to corrosion.
- Not ideal for corrosive water; Aqua-plate colourbonds have internal zinc coatings to prevent corrosion. This however only resists corrosion to a certain limit. Utilizing tanks for corrosive liquids reduces the lifespan and strength of galvanized steel within colourbonds gradually causing them to rust. Except if tank neutralizers such as limestone are used constantly.
- Adjustments by welding would compromise coatings; Subject to damage, if galvanized steel tanks are to be repaired, adjustments made with the use of heat and filler materials or water proof sealants will expose tank to corrosion due to lack of pre-existing coatings. Coatings however have to be replaced and soldered by a suitable lead-free solder. In most cases, solders require resealing from inside the tank.
- Slight leakages could lead to corrosion: When considering Aqua-plate colourbonds, proper sealing by manufacturer is top priority. Failure due to this allows for leakages within certain areas of the tanks thus increasing the risk of corrosion
- Resalable value is questionable: Aqua-plate and galvanized steel tanks atimes are not easy to layoff or dispose. Scrap metal dealers being interested in tanks of a high percentage in iron and zinc oxide can be quite debatable. Although within certain regions of the world, such materials feed the need of the dealer but tendencies of that being the case are quite low.
Aqua-plates and galvanized steel are made up of combined materials; if utilized properly can long longer than considerably most other tank materials such as plastic, concrete and fiberglass tanks. Aqua-plates comes as slightly expensive as they are also customisable with regards to colour and suitability to environment.it is although not as cheap to maintain as plastic tanks.
- High durability and strength: This form of steel is amongst the most ideal for water storage tanks.It does not pose as the strongest metal existing but its strength and durability could last for about 40 to 50 years if well maintained. It is easier to weld and can withstand high shifts in temperature and mass.
- Corrosion resistant: Stainless steel possesses a high amount of chromium alongside iron, nickel, manganese and copper. Chromium is a rare metallic property. It forms a very slim layer of chromium oxide on the surface of steel because it is non-porous to prevent it from corrosive detriments.
- Less hazardous: Considering its effects to contained water ,stainless steel is less reactive to water making it ideal for water storage used for consumption or food processing.
- Easy to repair: a level of craftsmanship is required for repairs of steel tanks; although it is relatively easy and straightforward. Patching, welding and use of water sealants solve most issues created from damage to tanks.
- Slow-paced corrosion: Close to the end of designated life span of tank, if oxidized, that is, if it is exposed to air. Corrosion of the tank begins but at pace and magnitude that allows for easy replacement, recycle or resale. The slow-paced corrosion retains its monetary and market value for good amount of time.
- Capital intensive; as beneficial as it might seem, stainless steel tanks do not come at cheap, they require proper investments due to the presence of complex and rare metallic elements mostly chromium
Stainless steel can be a personal preference for most people, I can relate to why, the steel seems indestructible, can last for a long period of time and can be quite uniquely stylish if presented well, stainless steel in terms of benefits out-shadow most other materials for water tank storage however they can very expensive and extravagant except if you don’t mind making a statement or probably you require them for a unique reason. Asides the expense, I highly recommend you have one for your home.
- Durability: concrete mixtures are made according to codes with standard grades and additives which enable them to last for 50-60 years. Constant exposure to water would supposedly reduce the life span down to about 20-30 years. However, that is still considered as an ideal length for a tank’s lifespan.
- Easy to dispose/recycle: intentions of disposing concrete tanks can be easily achieved. They can be easily broken down into particles such as stones, rubble and have little to no negative effects to the environment. The presence of steel, concrete and possible additional materials poses it as a recyclable property.
- Thermal resistance: The resistance to heat by concrete is one of its best features as it proves to be indestructible by heat or fire, although it could be weakened if exposed to infernos, an outright collapse or destruction of concrete without heavy tensile/ shear load or mechanical impact will not take place.
- Leakages: Concrete most often tends to leak or sweat; the particles in the concrete aren’t entirely bonded so it allows for passage of liquids through the concrete depending on their density. Regardless of how compact or refined the concrete is, a specific ratio for cracks and leakages is always allowed which makes not too much of an ideal material for water storage, although the use of plastic and rubber liners can be utilized to prevent leakages.
- Difficult to repair: Damage to concrete can be very technical and hard to repair; patching damaged areas would not allow for proper binding hence would lead to leakages within specific areas. Keeping concrete tanks safe from heavy impacts are best for solving such problems.
- Difficult to maneuver: The weight of a concrete tank regardless of its height, base area and shape weighs more than any other material within the shape category. This makes them difficult to maneuver, handle, fix and place manually if required.
- Increased pH level in contained fluid: The presence of lime and its ratio of acidity can be detrimental to the suitability of concrete to storing or containing portable water and other liquids, of-course it’s made from cement. This leaches into contained liquid, increasing its pH level which may in turn create health risks if required for consumption by humans or plants.
Concrete tanks are far beneath the most preferred tanks by the general public, simply because they aren’t really user friendly, and technically they allow for a specific percentage of leakage. Asides from the negatives they can be utilized in situations that don’t require consumption or harsh chemical. They can simply be used as plunge pools, aesthetic blendings; to name a few. Concrete tanks can be utilized for water storage as far as proper precautions and steps are taken to prevent hazards or adverse effect. It is strong, durable and can be aesthetically enhancing.
- Robust/ Impact resistant: Fiberglass contains quite a lot of materials utilized in construction of its walls. They provide a strong holding against heavy impacts and have a relatively good resistance to damage.
- Easy to repair: Although it does require specialized skills and knowledge.it is easy to repair for trained fiberglass workers.
- Resistance to climatic change and corrosion: Unlike metallic and plastic elements, fiberglass has the least expansion and contraction to climatic or high temperature changes. Its anti-corrosive properties do march the levels of plastic which makes it ideal for out-door usage and at locations near liquids such as water.
- Durability: A fiberglass tank’s lifespan is estimated to be 30 to 40 years if well maintained.
- Not easily recyclable: this is mostly due to it being a composite material; precisely it’s a reinforced plastic material embedded in glass fibers and fused with resins to form an extremely durable composite material.it is however not easily recycled.
- Fractionally un-ideal raw materials: fiberglass is made up of a number of foul substances such as polyester resin. Hence fiberglass is only portable water rated if a flexible liners or food grade internal coatings are utilized. This is because as time passes, particles from fiberglass tank begin to deteriorate and breakaway into contained water
- Large and flexible: It is a form of plastic with due to its distinct material allows for containment of large liters of liquid or water while its walls are designed to minimize the chances of abrasion and tank failure due to flexibility.
- Utilized to store numerous liquids: It has a high functionality by storing a range of liquids and can be used for different purposes. The tank protects liquids from contaminants; prevents evaporation and release of any possible odour or gaseous contaminant making it safe and complaint to portable water requirements.
- Mobile: A bladder tank is easily movable and can be utilized at various areas of the surroundings such as housing units, farms, military camps, humanitarian organizations and construction sites.
- Liable to damage by puncture: Installation of bladder tanks require flat, wide-spread surfaces free from sharp objects set to damage walls of the tank.
Bladder tanks are otherwise known as pillow tanks, with is a remotely flexible material; it is easy to damage with the use of sharp objects. However they are designed to resist such damages as much as possible. They can be used as storage outside the home or in a basement to be utilized and moved when needed.
Factors in Determining the Water Tank Material for Your Home
- Size of tank: The determination of tank size for your house and how large it is to be, to contain and supply a specific volume of water over a highlighted period is one of the main factors to be considered when choosing a tank material. The volume of water required lays off on what size to go for leading to the question of what material is best for holding such volume of water considering the mass of contained fluids, lifespan of tank material and resistance to mechanical damages amongst others.
- Area of usage (Environment): The environment where tanks are to be utilized play another candid role on what material is usable. Areas with salty waters require tanks that are majorly anti-corrosive, areas with constant changes in climates and temperature require tanks that are less reactive to heat and cold and areas that have an excess amount of nutritional elements within the atmosphere or water, require tanks that prevent the growth of plants by this.
- Availability of space/area: Tanks require space to be placed in position, although it may not be entirely a determining factor, it is relevant as where tank is to be placed has to be less detrimental to the surrounding; be suitable to its immediate environment, provide little or no obstructions to movement and blend well aesthetically, this in turn lays an effect on what material is to be used.
Presence of solid ground/stable foundation: Tanks (of any material whatsoever) are meant to hold and contain large masses of fluid. The weight of contained fluid and tank itself is subjecting loads on whatever it is placed on. The presence of solid ground, foundation or base stretches the limit of what tank materials can be used since it can bear all loads to be subjected. The lack of solid ground or foundation lessens the tank material options to ones with lesser weight and lesser holding capacity.