What do hot air balloons and hot water heaters have in common? Come on now, remember back to those science classes. The answer is thermal expansion. Whenever a gas, liquid, or solid is heated, it expands. In one of our examples it’s a good thing, but in the other it’s a problem.
When the air in a balloon is heated, the expansion means it actually becomes lighter than air and exerts pressure, lifting the balloon into the sky. When the water in your water heater is heated, it also expands. Since your hot water system is usually a closed system with a relief valve, without a thermal expansion tank the increased volume has nowhere to go. The result would be increased water pressure. The excess pressure can damage the internal components of the water heater, or even lead to a ruptured or bulging tank. In many cases this will void the manufacturer’s warranty.
The unusually high water pressure can cause other less serious, but annoying problems including:
- Pressure surges in the plumbing system
- Chronic or continuous dripping from the temperature & pressure relief valve
- Leaking faucets & fixtures
If you are experiencing any of these problems with your water heater, we urge you to call Dixie Electric, Plumbing & Air so our plumbers can determine if any water heater repair is needed in your Montgomery, AL home.
So now that you’ve received a refresher course in that high school science class and the subject of thermal expansion, you know the purpose of an expansion tank. All you have to do is call Dixie to determine if you need to have one installed. It’s usually pretty simple and relatively inexpensive. Our feeling is it’s cheap insurance to protect your home’s plumbing system.