How to build a water storage tank that will keep still water from freezing?

How much insulation would be needed and and how would you build it? It has to be outside and be able to supply enough water for a family for a few days. Any ideas?

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framistan5 years ago
I have done a lot of experimenting to measure temperatures underground during winter and summer at various depths. What i have discovered, is that heat from the summer slowly rises up and out of the ground ALL WINTER LONG. This is only about 60 degrees F of warmth, and not a lot of btu's per hour... but it rises out of the ground and you can use this warmth to accomplish your water tank project by working with nature. No heater will be needed. Build your water tank into the ground as much as possible. Then place some styrofoam on top of the tank. I assume the water tank will be fully enclosed, not open on the top. Then, cover the tank with dirt that you dug out to bury the tank. If one end of the tank is left un-buried, but covered with some styrofoam insulation, then a spigot or hose connection could be made at that end to access the water. If you want to verify my claim that the 60 degree heat rises out of the ground, then just get a thermomiter and measure the temperature of your basement floor. Mine measures no lower than 60 degrees all winter long. This is also seen when you see a sewer pipe with steam coming out of it on cold winter days.
blkhawk (author)  framistan5 years ago
Excellent idea! Using geothermal energy to keep water from freezing. Genious!
How much water ? And how cold is it ? And what shaped tank ?

Everything else depends on that
blkhawk (author)  steveastrouk5 years ago
The coldest temperature where I live is about -10º F (-23.3º C). Shape is unimportant (although in nature shape or form relates to function). What about a volume of 100 or 200 gallons? Too much, too little?
Boxier the better - reduce the surface area to volume ratio.

a couple of hundred gallons sounds about right for a few days.

Assuming you put it in a square tank, it would be only roughly 3 feet on a side - you could get more easily.

How about burying it ? Clad the outside with 4 " of polyurethane board, and bury it to reduce losses.

blkhawk (author)  steveastrouk5 years ago
A guess concrete blocks could be used and maybe waterproofing inside and outside. Any suggestions? It should resist hydrostatic pressure from the ground to avoid contamination of the water inside the tank.
I'd get some food grade polypropylene drums, and use them. I wouldn't like to make a concrete one from block. You COULD make one in ferro-cement though

Vyger5 years ago
Insulation would not be enough. With 10 below temps it will freeze even if insulated unless there is a large volume. So its not enough to just insulate it you would also need to provide heat. A simple stock tank heater will work but the power consumption gets pretty high after a while.
They make large fiberglass/plastic tanks that would probably work good with a minimal amount of modification. Farmers and ranchers use them for chemicals and for watering livestock. They usually will fit in the back of a pickup or on a flatbed trailer. To insulate it you can spray on the same stuff they use for houses.

Here is a place to start looking, they make all kinds and sizes of tanks.

iceng5 years ago
If you use oil or gas heat, you can funnel waste exhaust heat around your water tank, or make a simple copper tube heat exchanger to keep your water from freezing .