How to Repair an Above-Ground Water Storage Tank Leak

Written by ashley solsrud
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How to Repair an Above-Ground Water Storage Tank Leak
Medieval civilisations had subterranean brick water storage tanks. Even they needed repairing occasionally. (water tank in a medieval castle image by Gonçalo Carreira from

All you need is cement, chicken wire mesh, sand and concrete blocks to create an above-ground water storage tank. You may have built the tank to collect rain water for your off-the-grid house or as part of a humanitarian effort in another country. Whatever the reason, you know that water is a precious commodity. So, when you find a leak in your system it is important to know how to fix the problem immediately and effectively. Sophisticated equipment can determine where a leak is, but with your system you will probably be able to see the leak.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Square steel trowel
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Binding wire
  • Weld mesh
  • Cement mix
  • Bitumen paste
  • Sand
  • Crushed stone
  • Lime
  • Water
  • Shade canopies

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  1. 1

    Drain your water tank. Water can be salvaged in alternate containers.

  2. 2

    Clean the interior of the tank.

  3. 3

    Chisel loose sections from the external side.

  4. 4

    With binding wire, tie sheets of weld mesh together to form a sheet long enough to completely wrap your tank. Tightly wrap it around your tank, securing it with binding wire.

  5. 5

    Make a plaster using one part cement to three parts clean coarse sand. Add water to make a thick paste. Spread this on the entire tank in a 3cm layer, using your steel trowel.

  6. 6

    The new plaster coating must be kept moist and in the shade for three weeks in order to cure properly. Erect a shade canopy if necessary and sprinkle the plaster with water up to three times a day, if you live in an exceptionally arid climate.

  7. 7

    Make a homemade weatherproof paint. Use one part cement to 10 parts lime. Mix with enough water to make a thin paint. Paint over the entire outside of the tank, and allow it to dry.

    How to Repair an Above-Ground Water Storage Tank Leak
    Limestone mixed with cement and water create a weatherproof paint for your tank. (limestone mine image by Alex White from
  1. 1

    Drain the water from your tank, and clean the floor.

  2. 2

    Using bitumen paste, fill the cracks in the floor.

    How to Repair an Above-Ground Water Storage Tank Leak
    A reinforced cement foundation will seal cracks in your water tank. (cement,concrete image by Greg Pickens from
  3. 3

    Cut sheets of weld mesh big enough to fit the foundation. If needed, secure sheets together using binding wire.

  4. 4

    Mix one part cement with three parts clean coarse sand and three parts crushed stones to make concrete. Spread this mixture into a dense 7cm thick layer on the foundation.

  5. 5

    Top the concrete with your pre-cut weld mesh, and top this with another 7cm thick dense layer of concrete.

  6. 6

    Make a cement slurry by adding enough water to your cement to create a thin liquid. Use a trowel to spread the slurry into the new concrete foundation. This must be done the same day as the layering of the cement.

  7. 7

    The next day, compact earth around the tank and its new foundation creating an apron. Keep the area shaded and moist for three weeks to cure. Erect shade canopies and sprinkle the foundation with water as necessary.

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