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How to Patch Polyethylene Tanks

Polyethylene is one of the most popular types of plastic used in the industrial and commercial market. It is a polymer with each molecule consisting of a long chain of carbon atoms, each with two attached hydrogen atoms. Its durable structure allows it to be used in everything from plastic grocery bags and children's toys to heavy duty chemical storage tanks and bulletproof vests. Polyethylene storage tanks tend to become brittle and crack if exposed to sunlight for a long time. Fortunately, patching a minor crack is quick and easy.

Cracks in polyethylene tanks are easily fixed with a few simple materials.
  1. Empty the tank of its contents if necessary.

  2. Sand the edges of the crack and area surrounding it with fine grit sandpaper. This will allow for better adhesion of the patching tape.

  3. Wipe away any dirt or plastic dust from the area you have just sanded to ensure a clean bond.

  4. Cut a strip of polyethylene patch tape that is large enough to completely cover the crack. Peel the backing off of the tape and place it over the crack.

  5. Apply more tape to sufficiently seal the crack if necessary.

  6. Blow warm air onto the patch tape using a hair dryer. This helps to activate the adhesive in the tape and create a permanent bond to the polyethylene. Rub the tape down as you apply heat to it.

  7. Allow the tape's bond to cure for 24 hours before refilling or using the tank.

Warnings

  • Do not overheat the tape with the hair dryer. Doing so may weaken the adhesive's bond to the polyethylene.
  • Do not attempt to patch a tank that is full of chemicals or hazardous materials. Always empty and clean out the inside of the tank before patching.

About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.