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What Is a Pressure Tank?

A pressurized propane tank.
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  • Written By: Mary Lougee
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2014
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A pressure tank is an enclosed vessel that holds liquids, gases or air at a higher pressure than the air pressure. Water pressure tanks are often useful in conjunction with well systems used to supply water to a home. The extra pressure helps drive that water to the building. Industrial and commercial uses of pressure tanks might include gas pressure tanks for welding or oxygen pressure tanks for delivering oxygen to a hospital. Air pressure tanks are most commonly used in conjunction with mechanical air tools.

As a safety measure, pressure tanks will leak their contents if they become unstable. This is typically a better alternative to the tank bursting or exploding. While, liquid and air pressure tanks wouldn't pose as great of a threat if they burst, a gas tank would. To be safe all types of pressure tanks are typically given this kind of safety mechanism.

There are two basic types of water pressure tanks. The traditional pressure tank holds water at a pre-determined level leaving space for some air at the top. A newer style of pressure tank includes a bladder that is constructed of rubber. This bladder is located inside the tank and holds the water. Air inside the tank, but outside of the bladder works to create pressure.

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Water pressure tanks for the home are frequently used for well-water applications. The tank will pump water out of the ground and hold it inside the tank until it is needed for use. When a faucet is turned on, water evacuates the tank and enters the water lines leading up to the faucet. The pump senses that the water in the tank has reduced, and the tank starts pumping to refill itself. When the water in tank reaches normal levels and regains its normal pressure level, the pump will turn off.

A common problem with water pressure tanks has to do with overrunning the pump. This is evident when the pump continuously turns on and of after running for a short time. In a bladderless tank, this will occur when the air space in the tank has reduced. Air can be added to the tank with an air compressor through the top opening to return the balance of air and water to proper levels.

Gas high pressure tanks have many uses. Propane and natural gas may each be used for household heating and also for operating a gas grill. Helium is used for welding and also for blowing up balloons. Oxyacetylene, argon, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen gases are all used in different forms of welding. Pressurized oxygen is also used for patients at home or in the hospital to improve air quality for more efficient breathing.

Air pressure tanks are frequently used to power air tools. The most common uses are for loosening and tightening lug nuts on a tire to be changed and using an impact wrench to obtain a certain amount of pressure on a part. Blowers to blow pressurized air are also used with the help of air pressure tanks.

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