Water Tank Drone Inspections: Best Practices

Posted by Christine Gunsaullus on Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Drone Water Tank Inspections

Drones - You’re seeing them everywhere and you probably know someone who has one. Maybe it’s you! I’m sure you are thinking of all the ways a drone can make your jobs easier, safer, and cheaper, providing a unique aerial perspective while you’re safe and sound on the ground.

I think most water storage tank owners are at least considering using drones for tank inspections – it seems like a no-brainer, right? Well sort of… while the technology is powerful, it provides limited data when compared to a physical inspection, so ideally, drone inspections are a piece of your tank inspection program, but not the only piece. Now that we’ve been through a number of inspections with our drone, here’s what we’ve learned.

Best Uses:

  • Photos and videos of tank and site
  • Document condition of tank and exterior coatings above grade
  • Check for open roof hatches & cathodic protection ports
  • Visual inspection of ladder and safety accessories prior to use


  • Condition of half the tank (the interior) is unknown
  • Don’t have the expertise of a trained tank and coatings inspector who knows what they’re looking at and for (unless remote pilot is also one)
  • Unable to obtain interior coating samples for heavy metals testing
  • Unable to check functionality or condition of roof vent screen
  • No dimensions or measurements of accessories, or steel thickness readings
  • Cannot get thickness readings or adhesion strength of coatings on roof or upper shell

Any inspection is better than none, and since drone inspections are a fraction of the cost (10-25%) of a traditional inspection, plus the other benefits, drone tank inspections can be a helpful part of your tank inspection program, but, it doesn’t replace the comprehensive tank evaluation recommended every 3-5 years.

Authored by:
Christine Gunsaullus Photo

Christine Gunsaullus

storage tank queen

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Get caught up on traditional tank inspections by reading my previous blog (July 2016) on When to Inspect Water Tanks

Want to know more about how we’re using our drone?

  • Here’s some other things we’ve been up to with it:
  • Right-of-Way inspection
  • Roof inspections for buildings with limited access
  • Spying on people (just kidding!)
  • Pre and post construction client and board videos

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Categories: Municipal Infrastructure

Tagged: Potable Water  |  Municipal Engineering

Add a Comment

That is really interesting that drones can now inspect water tanks. Photos and videos of the tank can be studied for any inconsistencies or errors. I'll keep that info in mind for our next tank inspection. Thanks so much for the helpful tips.
Posted by Kate on Saturday, September 16, 2017, 4:26 PM