Have you ever heard a loud bang when you turn the water off in your shower? Has an HVAC professional told you that you need an expansion tank for your boiler, but you don’t even know what this is? No problem. A boiler expansion tank is a key part of your home’s water heating or hydronic heating system. This article shares more information on the function of a boiler expansion tank.
Understanding Boiler Expansion Tanks
A boiler expansion tank is simply a smaller tank that sits on top of your water boiler’s main tank; its job is to allow the necessary room for the heated water to escape as it expands. The expansion tank has two separate sections, each section divided by a diaphragm. One section allows space for water that is expanding as a normal process of heating to escape, the other provides an air cushion that can help regulate the pressure that builds as a result of the water getting hotter.
There was a time when expansion tanks were just a single unit; however, improvements in the design led to the current tank with two sections that helps prevent air from getting into the boiler which could cause corrosion. The expansion tank helps with both the heating of the water as well as chilling it. This tank can also be useful in eliminating hydraulic shock as well as some issues that can cause a water hammer. Continue reading to discover additional information regarding water hammer as well as its symptoms.
What’s a Water Hammer?
Hydraulic shock or water hammer is a fairly common phenomenon that adds additional wear and tear to your home’s water heating system. Have you ever heard a loud bank or boom sound when you turned the water faucet off? That noise is usually caused by an abrupt change in direction of the water flow as it sends out shock waves. This can cause deterioration in your heating system and pipes, and it can be very annoying as well. In order to prevent this problem, an expansion tank can be a good way to prevent water hammers while preserving your heating system at the same time.
Boiler Expansion Tank Options
When it comes to boiler expansion tanks, there are two different options: the bladder type and the steel type. We’ll explore each type a little closer below.
Steel Boiler Expansion Tanks
The steel expansion tank has been used for decades. This type is often found in an older home. There isn’t a diaphragm in this model, so air and water don’t touch one another. Therefore, a steel tank helps avoid corrosion in your system as much as possible. These tanks should come with sight glass, which is a small window that allows you to see the ratio of air to water in the tank.
The correct ratio of air to water will depend on various factors. For example, what are your convectors made out of, typically it will be copper or iron and how much water can your heating tank hold. There are other factors as well. A steel tank can have issues, such as corrosion, due to the mixing of water and air. Flooding the tank and faulty gaskets are also concerns. A professional will be able to help ensure your heater/boiler is fitted with the right size of steel expansion tank.
Bladder Expansion Tanks
The big difference between a steel tank and a bladder-style tank is that the bladder expansion tank has a diaphragm that separates the air and water in the tank. This can help lead to better longevity, but it doesn’t completely eliminate issues with air getting into the system. In a heating system that uses a bladder-type expansion tank, the air that separates from the water must be expelled from the heating system. This is something that you’ll want a professional to help you with in order to ensure your heating system maintains the correct pressure. An HVAC professional is also a great resource to help you determine the correct bladder expansion tank size for your boiler system.
Is Your Boiler System’s Expansion Tank Operating Properly?
Have you been wondering if your expansion tank is working the way it should? A common reason for a faulty expansion tank is when the pressure in the chambers isn’t where it should be. A steel expansion tank has a built-in pressure relief valve that might be venting off hot water. This is an indication that the pressure in the tank needs adjusting. Check the water level by looking through the sight glass and you should be able to tell if there is a pressure problem. For bladder tanks, you can check the pressure by looking on the diaphragm’s airside; look to see if water needs to be drained from the lines so the bladder is able to refill with air.
It’s not unusual for an oil-fired heating system to have one or more boiler expansion tanks. Unfortunately, these tanks can be a mystery for many people. These tanks and their unique system help regulate pressure within your heating system as it heats water in the system’s boiler tank. They can help avoid many common boiler tank problems, such as overpressurization and water hammers. They can also help preserve your home’s heating system.
Contact The BHHC To Connect With A Local Oil Dealer
The Better Home Heat Council (BHHC) aims to help homeowners and business owners with everything pertaining to fuel oil heat, particularly the economic and efficient use of heating oil. Also, we assist people in identifying and solving issues about energy efficiency in their homes or office. We accomplish this by pushing them towards an effective and affordable path to ensure that their living areas become more efficient and cost-effective.
To locate the best heating oil suppliers in the Lehigh Valley, reach out to the Better Home Heat Council. Our fuel oil suppliers offer the fastest delivery times, and the most competitive oil prices in the area.
Not only do our oil suppliers provide exemplary fuel delivery services, but they also offer a full line of HVAC services. They can make sure that your heating unit works efficiently at all times. When working with one of the providers at the Better Home Heat Council, your heater will keep you comfortable even when the outdoor temperatures drop.
To connect to an oil dealer or HVAC system specialist, contact us today.