A leaking hot water heater can quickly go from a small problem to a large catastrophe in no time at all. A small but consistent leak can damage nearby floors, walls, and furniture — costing hundreds of dollars in damages. Not to mention that a leak from your hot water heater can cause mold and mildew in damp areas in the house, which can cause serious health problems. So how can you tell if your hot water heater is actually leaking?
Don’t automatically assume the worst. Hot water heaters have been known to produce condensation on the outside of the tank. The condensation could have run down and collected underneath the tank. Your hot water tank might not have a leak after all. Wipe up the puddle that has collected and check the sides of the tank to see if there is condensation. If there is no condensation and the puddle reappears, the water heater is probably leaking.
Now that you have determined that your hot water heater is leaking, the next step is to shut off the power to the water heater. If you have an electric water heater, locate your circuit breaker box and shut off the power. If you have a natural gas water heater, find the on/off switch on the water heater and turn it to the off position.
If you have a serious leak you need to shut off the cold water supply as quickly as possible. Try not to come in contact with any of the leaking water because it may be hot enough water that it can leave serious burns. The cold water shut-off valve is typically located above the tank. Locate the valve and close it. If the leak is not serious, leave the water supply on for the time being. Leaving the water supply on will help you in the process of finding the source of the leak.
Finding the source of the leak can be a tricky process. You may want to consult a local plumbing expert to help you with this process. The leak can be coming from a number of different areas. The cold water inlet and the hot water outlet pipes are often the source of the leak. Check these pipes and make sure they are tightly fastened to the tank. The temperature and pressure relief valve could also be the source of your problems. The relief valve often runs from the side of the tank down into the floor. Inspect the connection of the relief valve and be sure the leak is not coming from there. Be sure to check the heater drain valve as well. The heater drain valve is a watertight valve typically located toward the bottom of the tank and should shut completely. If it is not shut all the way, this could be the source of the leak.
Most leaks typically come directly from the water tank itself. Check the bottom of the water tank and see if you can identify any leaks or drips. Hot water heaters have been known to break down and deteriorate over time. Therefore older hot water tanks are more susceptible to leaks.
- Make sure the water isn’t just condensation
- Turn off the gas and electricity going to the water heater before servicing.
- If you can’t tell where the leak is, leave the water supply on, it might help you find the leak.
- Check connection at cold water inlet.
- Check connection at hot water outlet pipe.
- Check pressure relief valve.
- Check heater drain valve.
- Inspect bottom of tank.
- If you can’t find or correct the leak, call Around Town to repair or replace your water heater ASAP before continued leak causes costly damage.
A leaking hot water heater can be a serious problem. Some leaks can be easily repaired right away while others may need professional work. In either case you should act quickly and be sure to consult your local plumbing expert Around Town before you do any work on your hot water heater.