Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks? - SailNet Community

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Old 12-18-2013
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Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Hi all.

While putting an inspection hatch into my water tank, I got to inspect it and found it was severely pitted/corroded and close to breaking though. These are the original steel tanks and so I guess 34 years was about the limit.

I now have a choice of materials for new water tanks as these need to be custom fabricated. I see mostly choices of steel or aluminum. What are the upsides and downsides for each material. I searched on Google and didn't find a thread on this.

Thanks.
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Old 12-18-2013
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Plastic is great except for one major problem. To the best of my knowledge you can't put an inspection port into them, so if you ever get major contamination there is no good way to access the inside.

Which leaves me with aluminium.

I don't trust tanks I can't see.
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Aluminum tanks are fairly commonly used as water tanks on boats and are an approved material.
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Don't forget stainless steel
Also I pulled a 40 year old plastic tank out of my boat that did have an inspection port.
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

My boat has both a plastic 40 gallon water tank up forward, and a stainless tank of 40 gallons amid-ship. Both have inspection ports, and the water taste of both is undetectable. I filter all water going into the tanks from the dock supply.

Caveat...I only drink the stuff when the bottled water runs out, or I'm out of Te-kill-ya.
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Old 12-19-2013
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

I would give plastic the edge here as it is unaffected by bleach that one adds to keep the water fresh. Use too much bleach in aluminum tanks and it causes pitting. Stainless would be good but I imagine very expensive.

Tod
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Old 12-19-2013
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
Plastic is great except for one major problem. To the best of my knowledge you can't put an inspection port into them, so if you ever get major contamination there is no good way to access the inside.

Which leaves me with aluminium.

I don't trust tanks I can't see.
Greg,

There are tons of plastic tanks with inspection ports out there. You could not pay me to have an aluminum water tank or holding tank on a boat. Fuel yes, water or holding no... Occasionally tanks need to be "shocked" and aluminum and chlorine really don't like each other very much. We shock our system every spring and we drink out of our tanks so it is important for us to be able to treat the water with chlorine and shock it as well.

BTW this was a three year old aluminum holding tank on a "premium" priced "blue water" cruiser. Uric acid and aluminum.... D'oh.........
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Old 12-19-2013
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

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Originally Posted by Gladrags1 View Post
Stainless would be good but I imagine very expensive.
Tod
Pre-made plastic will be the least expensive. Ronco tanks are one choice.

The cost to fabricate a custom stainless tank will not be any different than the same in aluminum. The only difference is the price of the material and that would not be very different.
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Plastic--cross-linked poly. Or stainless. Not aluminum.
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Old 12-20-2013
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Re: Plastic or Aluminum for water tanks?

Had aluminium for years. Altho told it was a special alloy for tanks, pitting was a problem and may be a connection with Alzheimer's although I forget where I heard that . Couldn't re /re tanks as I'd closed the boat in around them. Finally cut big access panels in the top of all four tanks (1500 litres total) and epoxy/glassed everything including the baffles (then two coats of potable type resin) Truly a bitch of a job but apart from the crick in my neck and getting the cat out of a tank, it was worth it.If I were building today,SS would be my only choice.
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Last edited by Capt Len; 12-20-2013 at 12:30 AM.
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