Concrete vs. Steel: Best Material for Above Ground Storage Tank

steel water tanks

Because of the president’s implementation of tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, there have been talks about how it will affect the construction industry and the country’s economy in general. This tariff will make the cost of the construction materials increase, which makes the cost of every construction project also increase. It will have a significant impact on everything connected to the construction business including liquid container tanks. Manufacturers now have to look for alternative materials for their tank projects lower the cost and still be competitive when it comes to the price of the steel water tanks.

When you are choosing for materials to be used with your above ground containment tanks, it is imperative to consider every factor that will have an impact on your construction business.

Longevity and durability of concrete vs. steel

One of the main complaints when using cement as the main material in containment tanks is the cracking, the leaking, and of course the maintenance required to solve these problems. First of all, concrete is not flexible, and when the temperature changes or seismic activity, concrete will expand or contract, just like any materials. This contraction and expansion will cause cracks and leaks over time. Cracks and holes in concrete tanks can be repaired, but in most cases, an expensive plastic liner is needed. If the cracks are not fixed, there’s a big chance the bacteria and parasites will seep into the tank and will lead to growth on the porous concrete that can compromise the cleanliness and sanitation of your containment tanks.

The most important advantage when using a steel tank compared to the concrete tank is its durability. Metal or steel will flex if exposed to changes in temperature. It will not crack, unlike concrete tanks. An above-ground steel containment tank will last for at least 100 years if adequately maintained. Not like concrete tanks, that will only last for 60 years, at most.

The Cost of Concrete Tanks

Traditionally, concrete tanks are popular because it’s a very cheap alternative for metal or steel containment tanks. It has a low initial investment cost, but the high maintenance cost since concrete tanks are prone to cracks and leaks. You need to check it at least twice a year for cracks to avoid bacteria and parasite infestation. That is why you need to think beyond your initial investment cost, and you should consider how long the tank will last, and the maintenance cost you will spend on the containment tanks. You also need to include the cost of the lost water since you can’t avoid leakage when you are using concrete tanks. Sanitized and treated waters are very expensive and can cause erosion of the soil around the tank. Not only that, but it will also kill natural microorganism in the environment.

The maintenance cost and the potential loss of income due to service stoppage. Since metal and steel containment tanks have a longer life cycle, the price that built around the life of the tank makes steel and metal tanks a desirable and economical option. It is less expensive when it comes to maintenance cost than using concrete tanks. STI or SPFA has an online software or tool to calculate the TCO or Total Cost of Ownership, to help people in calculating the cost and the value of the water in the tank over its lifetime.

(To know more about Total Cost of Ownership or TCO, click here.)

Flexibility and Customization

Steel tanks can be customized to meet every client’s specific needs. It allows manufacturers to choose the exact size, dimension, style of the base and roof and add special features like inlets, manways, outlets, vents, and roof hatches. After you finished installing a steel tank, if you need a tank change, it is very easy to do the tasks and change every component of the containment tank. With concrete tanks, it is tough to replace the parts, almost impossible, because most features in concrete tanks are permanent. It is also impossible to move the concrete tanks because it is poured or built on-site permanently. Because of the flexibility of steel and metal in general, you can relocate the tank in any place without a problem.

Safety and Environmental Impact

In this business, safety is the most important item, and every manufacturer should prioritize. If you want to be more sanitary when it comes to containment tanks, you need to use steel tanks. Because of porous conditions that concrete produces, and it is prone to cracking and leakage, there’s a big chance that the tank will have molds and bacterial growth. It is because of this reason, most industries that handle water, beverages and other food products prefer steel tanks over concretes.

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