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advice on problematic water tank in new boat sought

My husband and I bought a new boat in December 2009. We understand it was completed in August 2009. It has a steel water tank. Water from the tank is brown, we have drained it several times, and there seems to be rust present. The cap is also rusty. Engineers from the boat company are coming to examine the tank and advise on action: probably to repaint. We are not happy with the situation, and would welcome some advice. Would repainting be an adequate solution? Should we get an independent survey for advice, and should we ask for compensation? Yours, Pauline Cheeseman

Asked by: pauline cheeseman  | 2.32pm, Monday 22 March

WW says:

It depends on the type of water tank.
If the tank is integral to the steel shell, it will need painting (preferably with a paint suitable for potable water systems- not conventional hull bitumen!). Also, the connecting pipes (to the deck filler) and the vent pipes are hard to paint, so it is almost inevitable that iron oxides will be present in the water- however, it usually settles out if the boat isn't moving.
I would be surprised if the tank hadn't been painted first time- this is standard practice with new, integral steel tanks. Also, the inspection hatch must have a good seal around it, to prevent contamination.
If the tank is stainless steel, then there will be other sources of contamination, that might warrant further investigations.
Otherwise, painting an integral steel tank, with the correct paint, is standard procedure. The only difficulty is covering everything, and, if the boat is afloat, avoiding condensation occuring inside the tank, while the tank is dried.
As for compensation, that could be a more tricky situation, as the tank itself is probably "fit for purpose"- if they offer and carry out painting, that will bring the tank to industry standard, so is probably not worth persuing, if the rest of the boat is satifactory.

Mark Langley  | 7.57PM, Monday 22 March

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