Water Tank Failure

Like most things, even water storage tanks and systems of the highest-grade structural and containment quality don’t last forever. The unexpected happens, things go wrong and components wear out – a part of life most of us have learnt valuable life lessons from.


Steel-built water tanks are no exception. Similar to owning a smooth-running vehicle, the key is to keep a close eye on what’s happening, quite literally, beneath the surface, taking care of minor issues before they create something non-repairable.


Let’s delve into the ins and outs of a commercial water tank’s healthy operation, tank life expectancies and why they fail, and things to note or conduct ensuring your tanks store water effectively and indefinitely.

Types of Water Tanks and How They Work


Regardless of what a tank is built from, the actual layers of materials containing the water are realistically quite thin and fragile. Although what we see from the outside is often a hulking, great steel structure representing something that could last forever, this is usually just the foundations ensuring it stands correctly.

Three primary types of water tanks we supply and install are:


      • – Stainless Steel Tanks

      • – Glass Reinforced Plastic Tanks, and

      • – Hot Dipped Galvanised Tanks

    These are constructed using panels that are bolted together and offer consistent, top-grade exterior protection and containment quality. Water is collected in the tank via pump or naturally through the roof, passing through a filtration system then into the containment space ready for use.

    Common uses include commercial potable water storage for food production, fire suppression, irrigation and a range of industrial applications.

    Common Reasons Why Tanks Fail

    While solid steel tanks offer remarkable structural quality, many issues that have likely developed over time probably exist on either or both interior and exterior surfaces.

    Although manufactured and erected using superior steel materials, water tanks will unfortunately never be completely resistant to damage or total operational failure. Reasons for this vary wildly and can even occur from the most menial of incidents such as inexperienced technicians damaging surface whilst working on the tank or during construction.

    Water tanks are practically only as good their coating systems, however most commercial and industrial water storage systems usually fail due to:


        • Tank liners and waterproofing membranes either haven’t been installed correctly or have deteriorated periodically – See our blog article on Tank Liner Material Types & Applications


          • Failing to utilise a properly fitting cover – this causes major water loss through evaporation where tanks are outdoors


            • Over-exposure to oxygen within a tank’s walls where water levels meet the empty capacity causing the roof to corrode.


              • Scratching, scraping or other accidental damaged to surfaces caused by tools or excessive human or equipment movement inside the tank


                • Poor-quality cleaning procedures where technicians tear liners or damage coverings whilst performing maintenance duties


                  • Vandalism – Where tanks are used in unmonitored or remote locations, deliberate damage to water storage systems is extremely common. 

                How Long Do Commercial Water Tanks Last?

                A water storage unit’s life largely depends on how well it’s looked after. Some systems are known to operate with day-one efficiency for decades, while those been abandoned are lucky to see several years of operation.

                Due to the nature of what’s involved in storing water (particularly outdoors), the combination of heat, moisture, water, metal, oxygen and the climate isn’t exactly ideal for longevity.

                Tanks located in coastal areas or near sea water will prematurely corrode from constant exposure to salt spray in the air. UV exposure is just as equally detrimental.

                Ladders and other components located towards the top of the tank are normally the first to rust where water levels may not quite, or infrequently reach. But the quality of its parts working in sync will ultimately dictate how many years you’ll see your system in action. 

                Try to consult the same repairer each time for consistent replacement services and to ensure your tank’s equipped with genuine parts and plumbing.

                A water tank’s lifespan depends on its:

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