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Water tank failure. (Left) A ruptured water tank is indicated by the arrow. The diagrams on the right show the proper plumbing of a pressure tank (left) and the plumbing equivalent of the subject pressure tank (right). (Photos: C. Roberts)

Many homes are equipped with a well, well pump and well storage tank. The well pump delivers water to the storage tank with a pressure of approximately 40 to 60 psi and is controlled by a pressure switch. In this particular case, a plumber was working on the water service piping and had closed the shutoff valve to eliminate the water pressure so that repairs could be made. Shortly afterward, the water storage tank ruptured causing extensive water damage to the home. The figure above shows the ruptured water tank as indicated by the arrow.

Examination of the plumbing system around the subject tank yielded an unusual array of piping. The pressure switch worked properly. The apparent cause of the rupture was the improper placement of the shutoff valve.

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