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Water Tank Transportation: Best Practices for Secure Hauling

August 30, 2023
 By Joe Weaver
Water Tank Transportation: Best Practices for Secure Hauling
Last Modified: December 12, 2023
From pre-trip checks to safe unloading – learn every facet of water tank transportation from seasoned professionals in oversized cargo hauling.

Water tank transportation is a challenging test of the hauler’s expertise and use of safety procedures. Disastrous results can result from choosing the wrong trailer or improper block, brace, and strapping techniques. Whether you’re an over-the-road truck driver or someone who needs hauling services for a water tank, understanding best practices is key to a successful delivery.

According to the International Heavy Haul Association (IHHA), water tank transportation is a specialized field within logistics. It entails the safe hauling of water tanks of various materials and dimensions. Proper equipment and weight distribution are vital to ensure safety and efficiency during transit.

Let’s break down the elements of water tank transport, including the materials used in their construction and the equipment needed during the move. We’ll also show you how Heavy Haul and Oversized can handle your tank transport needs.

Water Tank Transportation: Tips and Techniques

A pair of water tanks on a goose neck trailer ready for water tank transport.

Hauling water tanks requires planning and careful execution. You’ll find some strategies have almost universal application when transporting heavy, oversize loads such as water containers. 

These strategies include:

  • Permits and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any required permits or regulations for oversized or overweight cargo in the regions through which you’ll be travelling. Each state and province differs in this regard.
  • Appropriate Equipment: Match the haul with the right trailer and tie downs. Make sure they’re in good condition and suited for the task.
  • Weight Distribution: Ensure your cargo is balanced properly on the trailer to prevent tipping or sliding during transit.
  • Secure Cargo: Use straps, chains, and other restraints appropriately. Regularly check their tension as you travel to your destination.
  • Professional Training: If you frequently haul large items, consider training or courses to stay updated with best practices in the industry.

Transporting water tanks is no small feat. Following these general guidelines is a good start, but there are further measures you can take to increase safety on the road.

How Do You Transport a Water Tank Safely?

Safety is paramount to any transportation endeavor, but oversize items require some special consideration. If something goes wrong when you transport water tanks, the damage done to yourself and others could be devastating.

These safety measures will go a long way toward preventing issues while your water tank is in transport.

  • Pre-trip Inspection: Always check equipment and cargo before embarking on a journey to identify potential issues.
  • Drive Defensively: With heavy cargo, your stopping distance will be increased. Anticipate stops, avoid sudden maneuvers, and maintain safe following distances.
  • Weather Considerations: Adjust your plans based on weather conditions. Wet or icy roads can significantly impact the safety of hauling large items.
  • Route Planning: Plan your route in advance to consider bridge weight limits, height restrictions, and road conditions.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Once on the road, take regular breaks to inspect the cargo, equipment, and the condition of the securing materials.

Don’t skip these precautions in favor of speeding up your delivery. Be cautious, practice safe driving and hauling habits, and you’ll reach your destination with your load intact.

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How to Transport a Water Tank: Material Considerations

While the previously listed tips apply to almost any heavy haul, water tanks come in many shapes, sizes, and materials of construction. The type of materials, in particular, require special attention during the hauling process. They have a considerable effect on the overall weight of the tank.

Consider the following average weights for four different 5,500-gallon tanks.

Water Tank Weights by Material

Fiberglass1,870 lbs
Concrete18,500 lbs
Plastic/Polyethylene1920 lbs

To understand the finer points of transporting water tanks, it’s important to review how the materials used to construct a tank can affect hauling procedures. 

There is at least a 16,500 pound difference between the lightest and heaviest water tank materials. Such differences greatly impact the process and means by which the tank is secured. 

Specifying the type you need to transport is also important to securing the right shipping rates

How to Move Transportable Concrete Water Tanks

Concrete water tanks serve as mainstays in various sectors, from agriculture to industrial zones. The very traits that make them reliable for long-term storage, however, can also present hauling challenges. 

When you’re preparing to move a concrete water tank, there are specific considerations to keep in mind:

  • Use the Right Straps: Nylon straps are known for their flexibility. When tensioned properly, they can securely hold the tank without causing scratches. Use these in tandem with polyester cords, which can withstand factors such as UV and moisture.
  • Blocking and Bracing Materials: Wooden blocks and high-density foam should be strategically placed to bear the tank’s weight and prevent shifting. 
  • Protection Layer: Use padded blankets or rubber mats beneath the tank to prevent any potential damage to the tank’s base during transport.
  • Avoid Over-Tightening: While it’s crucial to ensure your tank is securely fastened, over-tightening straps can exert too much pressure on the concrete, risking cracks or breaks.

Moving a concrete water storage tank can be a daunting task, but with the right equipment, knowledge, and a bit of caution, you can ensure a safe and efficient transportation process.

How Do You Move a Large Plastic Water Tank?

Several dozen large plastic water tanks.

Transporting a large plastic or polyethylene water tank might seem less challenging, given its lightweight construction. However, it poses challenges not found on more durable materials. Plastic tanks, unlike their concrete or steel counterparts, demand specific attention to detail to prevent potential damage during transit. 

Here are some essential hauling tips for plastic and poly water transport tanks.

  • Use Padded Straps: Opt for padded or rubberized straps. These provide a firm grip without causing stress marks or abrasions on the tank’s surface. Avoid metal chains or harsh materials that might scratch or dent the tank.
  • Stabilize the Tank: Ensure the tank is empty and well-ventilated, as trapped air can expand under heat and cause deformation. Place the tank on a flat and stable surface in the trailer to prevent uneven pressure points.
  • Protection from Heat and Sunlight: Cover the tank with a reflective tarp or white sheet to block sunlight and minimize heat absorption. Avoid parking in direct sunlight for extended periods, especially during peak heat hours.
  • Tighten Straps to Specifications: Over-tightening straps can cause indentations or deform the plastic. Adjust the tension just enough to hold the tank in place without squeezing it.
  • Guard Against Sharp Objects: Keep the hauling area free from sharp or abrasive objects that could puncture or scratch the tank. If placing other items in the haul with the tank, ensure they are well-secured and separated by padding.

Plastic water storage tanks are a staple in many industries due to their versatility. When transporting them, careful planning and attentiveness will ensure they reach their destination in perfect shape.

Moving a Steel Water Tank

Corrugated steel water tanks, often used in industrial and agricultural settings, have their own set of challenges during transportation. Their robustness and longevity make them a popular choice, but without proper care during transit, they are susceptible to damage.

Follow these tips when hauling a steel water tank.

  • Robust Strapping: Always use heavy-duty, non-abrasive straps to secure steel water tanks. These straps should be specifically designed for heavier loads and should be checked for any signs of wear or damage before use. Wide, nylon cargo straps are a good choice.
  • Avoid Rust and Corrosion: Ensure the tank is dry inside and out before transport. Moisture trapped during transit can lead to rust. Consider applying a corrosion-resistant coating or paint to the tank, especially if it’s going to be in transit for extended periods or exposed to the elements.
  • Weather Considerations: When possible, avoid transporting during rainy or very humid conditions. Use tarps or covers to protect the steel tank from direct sunlight, rain, or snow, which can lead to rust or corrosion.
  • Prevent Dents and Scratches: Use protective padding between the tank and points of contact, like the trailer bed or other equipment. Ensure there’s enough space between the steel tank and other items on the trailer to avoid collisions during transport.
  • Regular Inspection Stops: Make periodic stops to inspect the tank for any signs of movement, potential damage, or wear on the straps.
  • Upright Position: If the design allows, transport steel tanks in an upright position to distribute weight evenly and prevent uneven pressure that could lead to deformation.

By paying attention to these specific tips and remaining diligent during transport, you can ensure your steel water tank reaches its destination in pristine condition.

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How to Haul Fiberglass Water Tanks

Fiberglass water tanks are favored by many for their unique combination of lightness, strength, and resistance to corrosion. When hauling these tanks, it’s crucial to ensure they’re protected from any damage, especially cracking. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of tips for transporting fiberglass water tanks.

  • Use Padded Straps: When securing fiberglass tanks, use straps with padding or rubberized undersides. These reduce the risk of the strap cutting or wearing into the fiberglass surface.
  • Distribute Pressure Points: Use wide, flat load spreaders or padding under straps to distribute the pressure over a larger area, minimizing localized stress. This will minimize the chance of damage to the tank.
  • Keep Away from Sharp Edges: Ensure that the tank’s positioning on the trailer keeps it away from any sharp or protruding objects that might cause scratches or punctures.
  • Blocking and Bracing: Utilize soft padding or cushioning materials, like foam or rubber mats, between the tank and the trailer bed to avoid chafing or vibration-induced wear.
  • Mind the Temperature: Fiberglass can become more brittle in cold temperatures. If transporting in cold climates, be especially gentle and avoid rapid temperature changes.
  • Use Corner Protectors: If the straps go over the corners or edges of the tank, use corner protectors to avoid direct pressure, which can lead to damage.

Remember, the composite nature of fiberglass tanks means they have a blend of strength and fragility. Always handle with care and use equipment designed or suited for fiberglass to ensure a successful and damage-free transit.

Best Water Tank Transport Trailers

An unladen lowboy trailer being hauled down the road near a forest.

When transporting water tanks, choosing the right kind of trailer is paramount. Different tanks, depending on their size, shape, and weight, will require different types of trailers. 

Below are some of the most commonly used trailers and scenarios where each might be the best choice.

  • Lowboy Trailers: These are characterized by a low deck sitting just above the ground, providing extra vertical space. They are often used for hauling tall equipment while not violating height restrictions on highways.
  • Step Deck Trailers: Also known as drop deck trailers, step decks come with a top deck and a lower deck, making them versatile for hauling items of different heights. This is useful if moving a combination of short and tall tanks. 
  • Flatbed Trailers: These trailers have a flat, level deck without any roof or sides. They are versatile and useful for hauling multiple horizontal water tanks side by side.

No matter which trailer suits your hauling needs, we have what you need to move your heavy, oversize payloads.

Why Choose Heavy Haul and Oversized for Your Tank Transportation?

The process of water tank transportation is best undertaken by experienced professionals with up-to-date training and equipment. If you need that kind of expertise on your side, it’s time to partner with Heavy Haul and Oversized.

Our hauling services include:

Don’t play guessing games with your water tank transport needs. Call our expert staff at (866) 902-2713 or get a risk-free quote online. We’re ready to seamlessly transport your tank from A to B.

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