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Old 04-10-2021, 12:31 PM   #1
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Fresh Water Tank Leak

After finding water dripping from the corrugated plastic liner I removed a couple of dozen fasteners and finally located the source of the leak.
The fresh water tank is dripping at what appears to be a bad "weld" where the 5" drain line connects to the tank.
I drained the tank, removed the 5" drain line and installed a plug and then refilled the fresh water tank and dried the area with a paper towel.
You can see in the photo a drip coming from the fresh water tank.

This is a 2018 model travel trailer. So far, I haven't found any info in the owners manual / manual / documents that came with the unit.

Anybody know of a way to patch this or if the water tank might still be under warranty?

thanks, Dustin
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File Type: jpg Water Leak Fresh water tank.jpg (80.1 KB, 18 views)
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Old 04-10-2021, 01:22 PM   #2
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I don't think there is anything you can smear on there to seal it. When they install the fittings and or drains they are spin welded in. You could ask an RV shop just to verify. In my opinion, you will have to replace the tank.
https://www.ntotank.com/rv-fresh-water-tanks
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Old 04-10-2021, 01:31 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply & link

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
I don't think there is anything you can smear on there to seal it. When they install the fittings and or drains they are spin welded in. You could ask an RV shop just to verify. In my opinion, you will have to replace the tank.
https://www.ntotank.com/rv-fresh-water-tanks

Lloyd, thanks for the reply and link. It's a 45 gallon tank. I'll have to find the model number for my tank to get a replacement. I'll check with a RV shop first. The weld sure looks bad in the photo. Anyway, thanks.
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Old 04-10-2021, 01:41 PM   #4
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They sometimes can remove that fitting and spin in a new fitting. But I’m not sure if they can with tank installed.
They do make a patch type glue. It is ground up abs plastic and you mix it with acetone. Until you get the correct thickness. However I believe it is mainly for black plastic tanks. I’m not sure if it’s compatible with the white plastic of fresh water tanks.
It worked awesome on my black tanks when I replaced the fittings on top of tanks
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Old 04-10-2021, 01:55 PM   #5
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Apparently a fairly common problem with spin welded fittings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miniozzy3 View Post
They sometimes can remove that fitting and spin in a new fitting. But I’m not sure if they can with tank installed.
They do make a patch type glue. It is ground up abs plastic and you mix it with acetone. Until you get the correct thickness. However I believe it is mainly for black plastic tanks. I’m not sure if it’s compatible with the white plastic of fresh water tanks.
It worked awesome on my black tanks when I replaced the fittings on top of tanks
Miniozzy3 - thanks for the reply:
I googled this character string: "repair a spin welded fitting on an RV water tank"
It brought up several discussions where others had the exact same problem.
This one had the best info.
https://thumpertalk.com/forums/topic...sh-water-tank/

I believe I'll try and find someone who can remove and then spin weld / attach a new fitting on the tank (before I give up and install a new tank).

Thanks again.
Dustin
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Old 04-10-2021, 04:33 PM   #6
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My friend is vice president of the company and I use this stuff for all water leaks.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/PC-Produ...0114/100649621
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Old 04-10-2021, 04:47 PM   #7
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https://www.permatex.com/products/sp.../?locale=en_us
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Old 04-10-2021, 08:24 PM   #8
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Not effective on polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene

Mark5, PapaT - thanks for the suggestions. I'll do some more research. Both products state they shouldn't be used on polyethylene or polypropylene. My tank is made of HDPE (polyethylene). However, I've found some adhesives that might work. Since my tank is only 6" deep the water pressure should not exceed 3 psi. So maybe a surface patch would do the trick. I'll do a little more research. thanks for the ideas.


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Old 04-10-2021, 08:50 PM   #9
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Here are two repair methods suitable for HDPE:

Here is an HDPE adhesive and application video.
https://www.tapplastics.com/product/...UaAgNsEALw_wcB


This one is an HDPE welding repair kit:
https://www.amazon.com/Jounjip-Plast...ZNPX98XE5NF19Z

At the current time I'm leaning toward the welding repair kit. I think that could be done without having to remove the tank and I could get the surface up to the appropriate temperature.

Dustin
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Old 04-11-2021, 11:19 AM   #10
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Ok just seen it repairs plastic water tanks. Didn’t even think about it being HDPE.
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Old 04-15-2021, 10:10 AM   #11
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Much easier solution to tank leak

I found a much easier solution to repairing my leak. Also, after I removed the tank I discovered 2 of the 4 spin welded water level sensors were seeping water in the center where the wire connects and were all rusted.

I pulled out the metal sensor with a pair of vice grips (easy to pull out) which left about a 3/16" hole. I then enlarged the 3/16" hole with a 3/8" drill bit and installed the new sensors into the newly drilled holes. This way I "got rid of the leak" and got new sensors at the same time. Because they were leaking, the screws I removed were very rusted and I was unable to salvage the electrical connections. So, if you do this I recommend you purchase a new wire harness on amazon, about $8.00. Or, you could cut the wire leads off near the sensors and crimp on new ends of the wires. To pull out the old sensors easily, first remove the electrical connection if you can.. Then, put the screw back in and tighten it as tight as you can until it turns clockwise a couple of revolutions. This will break the knurled fitting loose from the plastic and it will be easy to pull out with pliers.

For the leaking 1/2" spin welded tank drain (original problem): I decided to not try and repair it, rather I'd completely replace it. I drilled a 1 3/4" hole centered where the existing fitting was located and installed a new 3/4" "grommet" fitting I purchased (see link below). Much easier repair and probably much more reliable.

The old 1/2" drain would take about an hour and a half to drain the tank so hopefully this larger diameter, 3/4" fitting will allow the tank to drain much faster.

I also got the new water level sensors with the same kit, $35.00

https://www.recpro.com/universal-fre...-with-sensors/

At 3:30 in this video is a demonstration of how to use this grommet fitting. Notice he's installing a PVC "slip" fitting into the hole. I've read that others install PEX tubing directly into the hole, but I used a slip fitting.



I tried to order a new tank once I discovered the sensors were leaking but the lead time was 3 months and the cost was $166. So, back to the think tank (pun) and I think this solution is much better and a fraction of the expense.

Now I need to build a better support bracket to hold the tank. It was very difficult to remove as the support screws were installed from above and almost impossible to remove. I want a much easier way to remove and install this tank if I ever have to do it again.

Hope this helps someone in the future.

Dustin
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Old 04-15-2021, 11:20 AM   #12
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Good write up Dustin. Hope it all works out for you.
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:46 PM   #13
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Awesome easy way to add support straps under water tank

Add support to your water tank
How to Video



Quick Strap Lowes:
https://www.lowes.com/pd/HoldRite-Qu...Kit/1000370929

Channel Strut Lowes:
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Superstrut-...rut/1001256658

perforated angle iron
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Steelworks-...-Angle/3053675

Dustin
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:46 PM   #14
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I have used silicone as a sealant on different items.
1. Silicone in a cracked wall of a basement. Water would squirt 2 ft after a rain. Ground out crack with angle grinder first. It has lasted 15 years.
2. Silicone in cracks in concrete driveway, smeared with a trowel into cracks. Has survived 7 years with minimal loss in Northern Wisconsin winters.
3. Silicone nail holes in leaking galvanized roof. Lasted 20 + years.
4. Silicone in bird bath. Lasted 5 years before wind overturned it.

This is only a suggestion. A lot will depend on the hydraulic pressure of the water in the tank and the cure time of the silicone.
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Old 04-17-2021, 06:50 AM   #15
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I am in middle of a repair of a sailboat hull made of ABS plastic. I saw a video of repair which I think would also have worked for the bad welds on connection but did not address the leaking sensors with rust which would or already had turned into bad connections. There is a product fro West Marine called G/flex 655. It is a 2 part epoxy mixed 1:1 and then trowelled on for repair. The surface needs to be dry and then lightly scuffed for epoxy to grip but I think the tank material was one of the plastics it is listed to repair.
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Old 04-17-2021, 07:03 AM   #16
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G/flex 655 epoxy usable on HDPE

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danimal713 View Post
I am in middle of a repair of a sailboat hull made of ABS plastic. I saw a video of repair which I think would also have worked for the bad welds on connection but did not address the leaking sensors with rust which would or already had turned into bad connections. There is a product fro West Marine called G/flex 655. It is a 2 part epoxy mixed 1:1 and then trowelled on for repair. The surface needs to be dry and then lightly scuffed for epoxy to grip but I think the tank material was one of the plastics it is listed to repair.
thanks for the tip. the G/flex 655 instructions say it is usable on HDPE. I'll make note of it in the event I need to patch in the futute.
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Old 04-17-2021, 11:07 AM   #17
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Good job
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Old 04-24-2021, 09:00 PM   #18
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Lessons Learned: Fresh Water Tank Leak /R&R

Lessons Learned: Fresh Water Tank Leak /R&R

I now have the repaired freshwater tank reinstalled. Numerous delays waiting for parts and cold wet weather, but it’s filled with water and I’m waiting overnight to see if any drops of water appear (fingers crossed).
Here are some lessons learned to pass on.

The bottom drain (spin welded) into the white/clear HDPE freshwater tank was dripping. The weld looked very poor and after removing the tank the weld just pealed away like dried egg white on a skillet (poor weld). I ordered the water tank fitting kit mentioned above. Using a 1 ¾” hole saw I easily cut out the old fitting and installed the new fitting with a ¾” threaded drain hole. Added about 10 galloons of water and watched it leak in 2 places!!!! Removed the new grommet and inspected but couldn’t tell where it was leaking until I shined a bright LED flashlight onto the plastic tank. I could then easily see the teeth of the hole saw had shattered the HDPE and there were little cracks in several places along the edge of the newly drilled hole. Numerous swear words found their way into the project. Eventually, I discovered I could use one of the larger grommets in the kit by redrilling the hole to 2 1 /2” and that would cut out all the little cracks in the HDPE. But how? Eventually it occurred to me I could install the 1 ¾” saw inside the 2 ½” saw with a thick washer in between the saws. This allowed the 1 ¾” saw to fit into the hole and act as a guide for the 2 ½” saw. By running the drill in reverse, I was able to easily cut the larger hole and left a baby’s butt smooth hole. So….. if you have to cut a hole in HDPE – run the saw in reverse! Worked perfectly.

Now, about those leaking water level sensors. 2 of my 4 water level sensor were very rusted from seeping water so I replaced them with the rubber ones that came in the tank fitting kit. These rubber sensors are designed to pass into a 3/8” hole and as you tighten the outside nut, they compress on the inside much like sheet rock anchors. They expand in diameter and shorten in length to seal the hole. They are designed to go directly into the side of the tank that’s about .15” thick. In my case, I removed the old spin welded sensors and drilled out the 1/8” hole to 3/8”. Using an inspection mirror and flashlight I looked into the tank to see what was going on and did not like what I saw. The spin welded sensors are about ½” in diameter and ½” long with a 1 1/4” diameter collar on the outside of the tank. That collar is what is spin welded onto the outside of the tank. For some reason, the holes in the tank were drilled about 5/8” of an inch in diameter. Meaning, there’s a lot of space around the center tunnel where the old sensors were mounted. Here’s the problem – When I inserted the new sensors, as I tightened them, they slowly unplugged themselves. They are about ½” long and the tube they are being installed in is about ½” long so they don’t really have the ability to expand and shorten in length the way they are designed to lock into the .15” thick HDPE wall of the tank. Eventually I discovered that if I don’t overtighten them, they expanded enough to hold tight and I wasn’t able to tug on them and pull them out. Hopefully, they won’t vibrate out of their tunnels. Maybe I should have put a little adhesive on them. Time will tell.

Lastly, to remove the tank, I removed two of the three straps that supported the tank and installed 3 new straps in their place using the technique from the video I listed above. So I now have 4 straps under the tank. FYI, there’s only 3/8” clearance between the top of my tank and the underside of floor of the trailer. The problem is – The original support straps under the freshwater tank are installed with self-tapping screws installed from above BEFORE the tank in installed. There’s no way to remove the screws so you can remove the straps so you can remove the tank. A piece of angle iron runs the length of the tank on both sides and is screwed to the trailer “I” beams with 3 self-tapping screws on each end. After removing all 6 screws the tank dropped down about 2 inches so I could then lift the tank a little and using a pair of vice grips turn the screws out buy grabbing onto the drill bit tip of the screw. These support straps are about .2” thick, pretty heavy metal. I left the one in place furthest from where the water connections enter/exit the tank. That one remaining strap supported the tank and kept if from falling on me and I didn’t need to remove it at all. After putting the tank back into positing I added 3 “hot water tank earthquake straps” shown in the video. Unless you live in earthquake country (I don’t) you’ll have to order them. Lowe’s got them in in just 48 hours. These straps are about 1 ½” wide, galvanized and about 1/3 the thickness of the original straps. I would have liked to reuse the original straps but I couldn’t come up with any way to reattach them that wouldn’t end up poking a hole in the tank. I feel confident these new straps will support my 40-gallon water tank without any problems. If I had a larger tank, I would just add more straps. The straps come 4 to a box with two sets of hardware. It takes two straps to build a completed strap (you need a left and a right for each completed strap).
Altogether, I probably spent 20 hours on this. Much of that scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the tank out and back in. I lost many days to rain, wind and waiting for parts. Probably 6 trips to Lowes, but, if you have the time (like I do) it’s not a difficult task. I called the RV service center where I purchased the trailer. They said 3 hours labor at $125/hr and a new tank at $250. So, saving $700 with a few hours work is okay by me.

Dustin
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Old 04-25-2021, 06:29 AM   #19
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Nice write up Dustin.
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Old 04-25-2021, 07:15 AM   #20
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Yep great write up. Nice find on spinning hole saw backwards to get a clean hole without cracking the plastic. A trick I use if I need to drill a larger hole and one is in place already is drill the size hole I need in a piece of wood and use it to center/locate the desired hole size over existing hole. The wood acts like a wall. It is best ti clamp the wood onto the part being drilled because as the drill spins and teeth bite, it tries to walk. Spinning it backwards might and minimized it until it started and established a track to follow. I recently had to drill a larger hole in Fiberglas hot tub shell for a temp sensor where old one was. There was no way to clamp/fasten my pattern to the tub. It did walk a little but the flange covered the area the teeth boogered and a rubber grommet made a good seal. If I had spun backwards first, it would have been less aggressive and made a cleaner hole. As it was, I was able to put enough pressure to contain the movement. I agree on using adhesive on the new sensors. My fear would be as trailer travels, there will be enough vibration to loosen the sensors and if below water level, they will leak. But great you got it figured out and always good to save some cash- and irritation of dealing with delays and exorbitant costs of service departments. And have the satifaction of fixing it yourself.
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