A different kind of spring cleaning: Repainting elevated water storage tanks for longevity and performance

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Now that spring has sprung, many of us will begin our spring cleaning activities, and one big project a homeowner might decide to tackle is repainting their home’s exterior. Many of our public water suppliers will be taking on their own repainting projects, except while we’re on ladders with a paintbrush and roller, their projects will take repainting to another level. Water storage tanks come in an array of shapes and sizes, and the elevated water storage tanks we typically see throughout our communities are constructed of steel. They are 500,000 to 1 million gallons in size, maintain water pressure, and provide an immediate supply of water for fire protection and routine water use. Elevated water storage tank before rehabilitation[/caption] Does it surprise you that these water storage tanks are constructed of a corrosive material like steel? Well, fear not about rust, because each tank is painted with durable interior and exterior coating systems to protect the steel. Prior to 2000, the paint systems used on these tanks only lasted 12 to 15 years. However, the improved high build epoxy and zinc-rich urethane/acrylic polyurethane coating systems we use today have a useful life of up to 20 years. In fact, a properly applied coating system can allow these steel tanks to have a useful life of over 100 years! With repainting of a typical 1 million gallon tank costing upwards of $2 million, it is crucial that the paint system lasts as long as possible.

The key to ensuring this extended useful life is proper application of the coating system.Containment during the rehabilitation of elevated water storage tank[/caption] Why does it cost so much to paint one of these tanks? It’s a combination of the cost of the paint, which is about $200 per gallon; the significant cost of labor, as it takes up to 12 months to repaint both the interior and exterior; and the significant environmental protection procedures implemented to protect the employees painting the tank as well as the public in close proximity to the tank. Specialized particulate containment systems are required to “tent” the entire tank during the blasting process to remove all the old paint and corrosion off the steel. Some of the old paints were lead-based; therefore, hazardous material collection and handling procedures are required to prevent lead particles from contaminating the site. Containments are also designed to prevent overspray so that the new paint does not leave the site and damage any surrounding properties. Once complete, this coating system will continuously protect the steel structure for another 20 years. ” Elevated water storage tank after rehabilitation[/caption] H2M has been helping water suppliers complete these repainting projects for over four decades.

H2M’s Water Division designs the plans and specifications for these repainting projects, and H2M’s Coatings and Tank Inspection Department ensures that the painting contractor completes the project as specified to ensure the coatings will last for decades. Should you have any questions concerning tank repainting, please contact Arthur Eschete, H2M’s Department Manager for Inspection Services, at aeschete@h2m.com.