Buying, Installing and Maintaining A Conventional Storage Tank Water Boiler


Even though there is a remarkably large array of water boiler types the conventional storage tank water boiler is still the most popular to this day. Most homes are properly equipped to fit a storage tank and the cheap price of the storage tank water boiler is attractive.

How do storage water boilers work?

A conventional water boiler works by keeping available a steady reservoir of hot water. Depending on the amount of hot water the respective owner wishes to have available storage tanks come in varying sizes, from 20 to 80 gallons.

Whenever a hot water tap is turned on the tank boiler supplies it by releasing hot water from the top of the tank. In order to effectively maintain steady hot water supply cold water enters the bottom of the tank, keeping the tank full at all times.

Depending on the fuel source there are several types of conventional storage tank water boilers. Natural gas and propane-based water boilers function the same way. A gas burner heats the water from under the tank. Hot waters move to the top and cold water enters the tank through the bottom where it is heated again. Using a thermostat, the temperature is kept at the desired level.

Oil-fired water boilers operate in the same way, and only use a different approach to heat the water. Instead of the gas burner there is a power burner that mixes oil and air and ignites it with an electric spark. Then a standby element maintains the minimum temperature setting of the thermostat.

What is standby heat loss and how do I prevent it

Since the storage tank is not completely insulated and water is constantly heated in the tank, thermal reactions cause energy loss even when a hot water faucet is not running. This process is called standby heat loss. The only way to completely avoid standby energy loss is to have a tankless water boiler.

However newer, more sophisticated storage tank water boilers come with heavily insulated storage tanks, which significantly reduce standby heat loss. This lowers the annual operating costs visibly. If you are looking for such a model, make sure the model has a thermal resistance value between R-12 to R-25.

Buying a storage tank water boiler

When you are looking to buy a conventional storage tank water boiler there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, the cheapest water boilers are usually the most expensive to operate, and therein lies the true problem of storage tank water boilers.

Another problem is buying an oversized unit. While you would think it is beneficial to have more hot water at your disposal keep in mind that a larger tank has a higher purchase price and higher standby heat loss, which translates into higher annual operating costs.

Also, if you are replacing an existing water boiler the cheapest solution, and fastest, is to choose a new model that is based on the same fuel type. Installation is much faster and cheaper this way, and, in some cases, can make installing the new water boiler much easier. Just make sure you meet the new spacing requirements.

How do I install my new tank-style water boiler?

Proper installation tweaks energy efficiency and can bring a dent in your energy bills. Proper water boiler installation leans on many issues. Fuel type, building code requirements, many safety issues concerning the users, especially with gas or oil-fired models.

It is highly recommended to have a qualified plumber install your new storage water boiler. When selecting a contractor take care to ask for references, check the company and request cost estimates in writing so the plumber does not give you unexpected problems.

If you are still determined to do it yourself first consult the manufacturer of your model. Have them give you the necessary installation and instruction manuals. You can also find detailed instructions here. You might also need the help of a friend since storage tanks can be very heavy. Lastly, find out if you need a permit for local water boiler building codes.

How to keep a healthy water boiler

In the case of conventional water boilers, the top problems are tank leaking and flooding. Storage tanks come equipped with anode bars. These bars absorb corrosion, so if they are in place tank corrosion is unlikely. While proper maintenance dictates a check-up on sacrificial anodes every 6 months many people forget about it or simply do not care and end up having massive tank leaking sometimes resulting in floods.

Conventional water boilers typically come with 6, 9- or 12-year warranties. Spending the extra cash on a 12-year warranty is recommended. Most water boilers die after 10 years due to improper maintenance or local water difficulties, such as hard water.

While there are better options, they are much more expensive, thus storage tank water boilers are still extremely popular. Consider the steep operating costs as well as energy loss before you decide to buy a storage tank water boiler.

Edinburgh Central Heating Services offer free estimates and range of skills. A 24-hour emergency plumbing service is also offered. For more information visit or telephone 0131 5102418