How to fix leak in 5k gallon steel water tank on concrete pad

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Anyone know how to fix a leaking 5000 gallon steel water tank on a concrete pad?
One of two tanks is leaking from the bottom. Not much, but enough to keep the concrete always wet (which likely is rusting it out even more).
I can't figure out how one would go about fixing this kind of leak.
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Godspeed wrote:

Drain it. Weld it.
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wrote:

or . . Drain it. Replace it.
That was easy.
Jim
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Dont put the next steel tank directly on concrete
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Godspeed wrote:

Not enough information. Chances are, the tank is rusted, very thin, difficult to fix. It may be possible to weld a plate over the area, it may be possible to line the tank. If it is already lined, you cannot weld on it.
Inspection is needed to answer your question. There are companies that specialize in tank repair. Call one to look at it.
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2010 05:43:38 -0500, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

When the well had a problem in the summer, the well guy took a look at the tank leak and said the tank was in "good shape" externally.
This steel tank is lying on very thin slats of wood (most of which are rotted out). The two tanks are about 20 years old since the home is only about 20 years old.
They're painted steel on the outside with absolutely no visible rust on the outside. Inside, there is rust on the steel and there does not seem to be a "lining" that I know of (the water inside looked yucky from the top but the well guy said that's normal).
The well guy said he never "fixes" leaking water tanks. Said it's like fixing a radiator on a car. Plug one spot and the hole opens up somewhere else. He recommended a brand new non-steel tank. Sure. It's not his money. That's twenty grand.
Of course a new tank is "better". But, does it pay to weld a plate?
Since the tanks are in great visual shape, I'm hoping there is a viable fix-it solution. Does a "normal" welder do this kind of work or is there a specialty shop somewhere out there like roto rooter or something?
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Godspeed wrote:

Flat bottom or round? Upright/horizontal? Internal access?
Who knows from here?
As the well guy said, you can try but it's likely if it's rusted out in one spot it's terribly thin in many.
A decent welder can do the welding; question nobody can tell w/o looking is the condition overall and where the leak is, access, etc., etc., etc., ... You possibly could simply rotate it 180 and extend life; otoh, disturbing it might open it up completely if it's really thin.
If this is just a residential installation, why such a large tank or are not using a pressure pump? Could potentially go w/ a much smaller pressure tank far cheaper.
--
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2010 08:39:10 -0600, dpb wrote:

Flat bottom and top.

Upright. About 10 or 12 feet tall and about 8 or 10 feet wide. Cylinder.

Has about a 2-foot hatch on top for access. No ladder inside so I'm not sure how you get to the bottom (or back up for that matter). I guess a thin ladder would work.

It really "looks" good on the outside. I wonder if it's not just a pipe leak somewhere on the bottom.

I don't think something that big can be moved.

Large? I asked the well guy why everyone had 3 or 4 tanks and I only had 2 and he said anything over 10,000 gallons needs special earthquake foundations so everyone just puts in a set of small 5,000 gallon tanks. So, 5,000 gallons, out here, is small since I can see on google clusters of 3, 4, and 5 tanks all around.

There is a 3-foot tall blue pressure tank in the well housing that has a motor that pressurizes the water to about 80 psi (said the well guy). That pressure tank is about 2 feet wide. Dunno exactly what it's for but it seems to hold the pressureized water (all the water except the water to the fire hydrant).
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Godspeed wrote:

OK, so the only way you could do anything about it anyway is either thru the top hatch anyway unless there's an access underneath somewhere.
How is/was the connection made; where's the line?
The fact that what is visible looks good doesn't mean much (like anything) in comparison to the bottom that isn't. You've got one dry side every where except there; that side has been corroding from both sides for a long time now so it is likely quite thin in many places. It isn't uniformly thin, it'll have pitted locations and they'll be scattered all around if that is the failure.

Well, it got there, didn't it? I doubt it grew from seed... :)
If it were horizontal round, that's a doable thing. Cylindrical upright not so much which is why asked...

...
OK, you have your own fire protection supply, too. A 80/100 gal pressure tank is typically sufficient for simply a residential water supply.
I'd wager a new tank is in your future; you may be able to put it off but likely not repairable.
--
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:28:35 -0600, dpb wrote:

There does not appear to be any access other than from the top.

The well water comes in from the top of the leaking tank.
There is a four-inch fire-hydrant line connecting the two 5000 gallon tanks near the bottom; so as the leaking tank fills, it fills the second 5000 gallon tank in parallel. Presumably that 4" line will will "almost" empty the tank should we need to drain it. Each tank has a large 8'inch wide circular handle on that four-inch line to isolate each tank from the other.
At about the 1/3 empty mark of the tank that is leaking, there is the water outflow for the house. This steel outflow pipe is about two inches wide. Presumably the house can only use the top 2/3 of the water in the tanks while the unpressurized fire hydrant can use almost all of it.

I was afraid of that. :(
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OP-
You've got a lot of smart. experienced guys trying to help you out here but "situation" is not being laid out very clearly.
Where are you located? The tank is on wood slats, are they on a concrete pad? How big is the pad? Why do oyu need 5000 gallons? Or do you need even more? Something about fire fighting?
Now oyu mention that perhaps fittings are leaking and not the tank. The tank may only be rusted externally, poor maintainance? Maybe the leak saturated the wood slats and promoted external corrosion?
The details are coming out bit by bit. Now there is a second tank? How long have the neighboring tanks lasted?
Galv steel can last a long time with non-corrosiove water quality.
If the tank is sound except for the bottom (as per other post) it "could" reworked. A skilled welder could rig this thing, cut the bottom off and repair but field repairs are hard to make as good as new factory fabrication. :(
Call around and see if a welder can "do it all" .....don't drag the guy out there for a bid, you'll be wasting his time. Have all the details (measurements, installation, etc) so you can answer his questions on the phone.
Check out new tanks online....delivered, I'll bet (unless your in BFE) less than $3000. Installation extra. With the price of a new tank (with installation if oyu cannot do it yourself).......you'll know if a repair is worth while
From my keyboard, I recommend a repair if its less than $1000 and start saving for a new one. Or can you get by with only one tank for a while? What is your well production rate?
But if you're going to own a property with a well, better plan on getting handy or keep that check book ready.
cheers Bob
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:52:51 -0800 (PST), DD_BobK wrote:

Yes. The concrete pad is about 20 feet long by about 10 feet wide and it has the two tanks sitting on it, side by side, with a small well house off to one end where there pressure pump resides and the top of the well sits along with three or four electric panels.

I think 10,000 gallons is about right for the house. All the neighbors seem to have larger sets of tanks than just two. I misspoke before about the 10,000 gallons needing special earthquake floating pads; it's anything over 5,001 gallons which needs the special pad so that's why everyone has sets of 5,000 gallons.

I was hoping it was the fittings but when I asked the well guy, he said the only fittings were those I could see on the sides and top of the tank: 0. Tank 1 is leaking; tank 2 is connected to tank 1 by a 4-inch valved pipe 1. The well pumps water into the top of tank 1 via about a 2-inch line 2. The water comes out of tank 1 at about the 1/3 level for the house 3. From there, the water goes to pressure pump and a blue pressure tank 4. From the blue pressure tank, the water goes into the house 5. Additionally, the 4-inch line near the bottom of each tank goes to an unpressurized fire hydrant called a "wharf hydrant" by the fire department
None of these fittings are leaking. I was hoping there was a 'drain plug' or something on the bottom of the tank but the well guy said it would just be a weak spot to start leaking.

Certainly it's not helping the situation that the wood slats are constantly wet.

Very good question! This house is 20 years old and I'd guess the other houses are similar since I saw a map from the 70s which didn't even show a paved road. Most houses here are probably less than 20 years old. I will see if I can ask how long their tanks lasted, but some seem to be made out of wood (at least on the outside) and some are green plastic with awnings over them (mine is painted steel with no awnings).

With all that rust on the inside, I'd suspect it's not galvanized. I wonder how else I can tell?

Interesting idea! I hadn't thought that they could "cut the bottom off". That would solve the problem, wouldn't it? One problem is that it must be darn hard to get heavy equipment up the hill where the tanks are, but, they must have gotten the trucks in there somehow. The well guy things they went from the neighbor's yard.
Nobody, until you, suggested cutting the bottom off. The previous idea was to patch it and I understood the problem of "patching the radiator". But, if we can cut the bottom off, then it seems to me the results should be pretty good, right?

I will do that. I guess I also need someone to "tip" the tank over so the welder can work it on the side, right?

I will report back. Would you suggest I research steel (1:1 replacement) or some other material? I see wood and plastic tanks all around the hillside.

I see the plan. a) Get a rough phone-call estimate from a welder for a new steel bottom b) Get a rough estimate for a new tank from the Internet c) Compare & decide

Not good. The well guy tested it at 400 feet deep and he ran the well for an hour and it shut off twice (he had to flip the breakers on and off to restart the pump). He said the water level dropped 15 feet in that hour and that we were getting only about 6 gallons a minute (I can double check the paperwork).

:) I'm ok with learning. That's why I'm here asking and responding!
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OP-
I cannot take credit for being the first one to suggest cutting off the bottom.
Jim (the professional welder) suggested it & in a subsequent post he offered to coach you on the repair.
Please find a photo positing site & post some photos (a couple overall installation views & some detailed ones) so everyone in this NG can see what's up.
Approximateing where is this property? San Diego county or NorCal?
I'm no well expert but dropping 15' in an hour to supply 360 gallons seems like a lot BUT you probably need 400 less than that per DAY.
If oyu want to struggle by for now...get someone to re-pipe (or do it yourself) the pump output so you can fill either or both tanks at your choice (valves in the pump line at ground level that feed each tank)
Isolate the leaker and only fill it in fire season for the next year or so while you save money for the repalcement.
cheers Bob
I think most of the guys in this NG participate as much learn as to help...see new & different problems and their solutions help us all.
cheers Bob
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dpb wrote:

I'm guessing he has no well and is collecting rainwater. I almost bought a place that had all the rain from the roofs of the house and the 2000sq ft garage go into tanks. It wasn't being used anymore because they now had city water. The "well guy" could be the guy who pipes that water to a pump and a normal pressure tank. Just a guess because I've seen it before.
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Yeah, My Father in law did that. He collected the rain off of his 2700 sqft home and 1800 sqft work shop. Cistern was 7000 gal. I was amazed at what a small rain it took to fill them.
Jimmie
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2010 10:35:11 -0500, Tony wrote:

The next door neighbor actually does collect rainwater off his roof and feeds it to a 22,000 gallon underground tank for his irrigation needs but mine is well water.
There are two wells on the property, one of which the well inspector said was useless and is currently turned off at its breaker. The other well is the one that supplies all the water needs.
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Godspeed wrote:

Plastic water tanks are not that expensive.
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On Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:27:33 -0600, Steve Barker wrote:

You're right. I was hoping to "repair" the tank but the advice to check the price of new is apropos. A new "plastic" tank seems to be about $2,000.
A new "5,000 Gallon Fresh Water Poly Tank" is $2,238.60 here: http://www.watertanks.com/products/0005-045.asp Diameter:102 inches; Height:152 inches; Weight:875 pounds;
Here's a heavier "5000 Gallon Polyethylene Fresh Water Tank" for $2,000: http://www.gototanks.com/SN5000-Gallon-Frwsh-Water-Tank.aspx Diameter:102 inches; Height:153 inches; Weight:1,200 lbs.
This low profile "5000 Gallon Black Water Tank" goes for $1,775: http://www.tank-depot.com/productdetails.aspx?part=TN5001IW&ref se Diameter:141 inches; Height:86 inches; Weight:879 lbs.
I wonder how long plastic tanks last compared to steel?
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Sounds to me like he is incompetent. The only radiator I ever fixed, stayed fixed.
I would think the first step would be to inspect the tank to asses the condition. While it could be that the tank is rusted so thin that repair is not a viable option, it could also be that the damaged area is small and easily repaired.
Also, even if the tank is almost rusted out, a repair might be able to be made by using the steel skin as something to fiber glass on the inside. A smelly job, but if it saves you 20 grand for a new tank then go for it.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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