Vehicles need routine oil changes and tune-ups to keep running. Roofs and windows need to be replaced eventually to keep houses livable. So, it’s only natural that steel water storage tanks would require regular maintenance to preserve their functionality. If a steel tank is taken care of, it could provide water service for 100 years – or, more likely, for at least several decades.
It’s hard to maintain a storage tank without knowing what exactly needs maintenance. That’s why it’s critical to conduct regular inspections. Tank operators should perform regular sight checks to make sure everything is in working order. If something is amiss, like say there is a leak, then a professional should be called to investigate. Professional inspections should also be performed every five years on tanks with cathodic protection or every three years for tanks without it, according to NFPA 25 standards.
Tank inspections provide a blueprint for what repairs and maintenance are necessary for the tank. Inspections can help pinpoint whether a tank needs a new coat of paint or if a thorough cleanout is needed because there’s too much sediment in the tank.
Pittsburg Tank offers several different types of inspections. Our team can help you determine which type of inspection best fits your needs and budget:
- Dry inspections: A drained tank allows inspectors to assess the tank’s integrity from inside. Inspectors examine the tank for any noncompliance issues and perform ultrasonic, mil thickness, lead check, and crosshatch testing.
- Remote vehicle inspections: Remotely operated vehicles equipped with submersible cameras are placed inside the tank and controlled by a trained operator who remains outside. The robot’s camera records images of the storage tank that the inspector can evaluate.
- Dive inspections: PTTG has experienced, highly trained divers who can perform thorough tank inspections
Once the inspection is done, our expert team of professionals will compile a detailed report and provide a video copy of the inspection. The report will detail recommendations for maintenance and repairs, including explanations on why we feel upkeep is necessary along with the codes and standards we are citing.
Steel is a durable metal; however, if it interacts with water, it can rust over time. Obviously, a steel water storage tank comes into contact with water. However, installing quality coats of paint and a well-designed and installed cathodic protection system helps prevent corrosion.
Exterior paint is exposed to the elements – breaking down over time due to exposure from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, rainwater, and wind. Natural elements can corrode steel to the point that a tank is beyond repair if it is not repainted often enough.
When water interacts with steel, rust occurs. Rust weakens steel and causes it to corrode. Paint adds another layer of protection between the elements and bare steel. A fresh coat of quality paint keeps the rust at bay and helps ensure the structural integrity of a storage tank. Addressing coating deficiencies early on is better than letting the problem snowball into a larger issue.
Applying an overcoat is less expensive than stripping paint off a tank to apply a fresh coat. Overcoats are usually sufficient for regularly painted storage tanks. However, a tank can only be overcoated so many times before the paint needs to be stripped and fully recoated.
How much it costs to recoat a tank varies depending on what paint system is applied, the paint brand manufacturer, the tank’s size, its location, and whether or not the state has prevailing wages.
What type of tank matters too. Even if two tanks are the same size and have identical capacities, elevated tanks have more square footage, making them more expensive to paint than ground storage tanks. Unlike with ground storage tanks, elevated tanks require a rig to protect the field personnel working at the site.
Lead paint can be hazardous to remove and requires containment, which also makes it more expensive to remove. A shroud can be placed around the tank to prevent harmful lead particles from escaping into the air.
How long a coat of paint lasts depends on a lot of factors. An interior paint coat could rust in eight years or less or look fantastic after 20 years. It all depends on the tank’s location, the quality of water in the tank, and the chlorine concentration, plus other factors.
Painting a tank every 15 years or so is cheaper than not doing it for decades. That’s because a storage tank that’s left unmaintained will corrode, sometimes to the point where no amount of maintenance will save it. Instead, a tank that could have lasted several decades might need to be replaced after a much shorter lifespan.
Cleanouts and pressure washing tanks can help get rid of harmful residue and keep the paint in good condition.
Nobody wants to drink dirty water. Removing sediment helps keep the water clean for consumption if stored in a potable water tank. Even if stored in a fire protection tank, it’s still better if it’s free of sediment since it can clog up a sprinkler system and render it useless.
Cleanouts help keep a tank functioning. Tanks can get pretty gross on the inside if left alone. A mixture of dirt, mud, bacteria, and even animal carcasses can find its way into a tank. Removing sediment from storage tanks helps keep it from becoming contaminated. Some tanks collect more sediment than others because there are different water sources. Think about most rivers and lakes. They can be pretty muddy and even grimy. If water comes from a river or lake, chances are that more sediment will settle to the bottom of a tank than if that tank’s water source was coming from a clearwater well.
Tanks can have anywhere from a thin layer of sediment that’s only a fraction of an inch to as much as a foot in between cleanouts. ROVs can be used to clean out the tank. If there’s a lot of sediment, a vacuum truck will likely be necessary to get up all the dirt and mud.
A clean, well-maintained tank will help your system provide clean, quality water ready for consumption or fire protection. As with every structure or piece of equipment, it’s important to perform regular maintenance. If you never change the oil in your car, the engine can fail. If you don’t patch a hole in a roof, there will be leaks, which could, in turn, ruin your furniture or flooring. In that same vein, if you don’t maintain your water storage tank, it can fail and need to be replaced.