Water Heater Leaking
If your water heater is leaking, it costs money, inconveniences you, and causes damage. Check out our guide and how to handle them.
A leaking water heater doesn’t seem to be much of an issue at all. However, it does have all the potential to turn into one. Water leaking from these water heaters can damage the walls, and floors of your beloved home. In addition to this, a fully-fledged failure can be extremely catastrophic and has full potential to flood your basement significantly. Then you will have to pay those hefty bills for the repairs and damages to your property and everything associated with it. The leakage of water heater can cause major health concerns for you as well. The wetness in the area can become the source for mildews molds. For some people, mildew and mold can be very allergic and cause asthma. According to US Environmental Protection Agency, serious health concerns may arise due to some types of toxic molds. Leakage in water heater doesn’t get fix itself with the passage of time; it can only get worse. Plus, due to dampness in the area, many insects and bugs try to invade your house as well, which can only make the situation worse. Hence, if you know that you have a leakage in the heater, then you need to fix it right away before it gets worse.
Stage 1: Determine the Source of the Leakage
Identifying the source of the problem is crucial. If you determine the source of the problem, you will be able to find the solution in no time. First, you need to check the water heater itself. Not all puddles of water under the water heater are caused by water leakage. The water heater along with its pipes plus, all other appliances that are found in the nearby vicinity may cause condensation, which accumulates into small puddles of water that drip down to the floor. This commonly occurs during humid weather, particularly in the basement. The drain lines from the furnace as well as the water softener along with other plumbing lines can also cause leakages.
If you have noticed a small puddle of water under the heater, then you need to wipe it dry to observe the source all by yourself. Inspect the heater closely to check and verify the chances of water leakages. If any of these problems are not found, then you can check other sources in the nearby location. Water flows with gravity. Therefore, you might also need to check for a source like water pipes, directly overhead the puddle. After this, if you are still not able to find the source then lay some toilet tissues down on the wet area and frequently check them. If the paper towels don’t get wet again, then there is no issue at all. On the other hand, if water does appear for the second time and there is no source to be identified, then it is caused by the leakage.
Stage 2: Turn Off the Power to Your Water Heater
When you have determined the leakage issue with the heater, first you have to do is to turn off its power as well as supply of water. If there is a water heater that runs on electricity then just find the box it has containing circuit breaker and turn it off for the water heater. Electricity and water is a fatal combination you need to turn the breaker off before doing anything else. In a case of water heater that runs on gas, there is a dial or an on/off switch to turn it on or off. Don’t close the shut-off valve as they can be prone to failure with the passage of time.
Stage 3: Shut Down the Water Supply
If the leakage is evident and obvious then turn the supply of water off at the cold water shut-off valve. A number of the water heaters have a valve that is located above them. The valve must either be a lever that you need to pull down. In case of a dial, you can turn it clockwise. Make sure that you don’t touch the water or any dampness before you close the valve. If there is a case of a seriously large leak and you don’t have any easy access to the valve as well, then you have to find and shut off the main water shut-off valve, so that the supply of water can be stopped. When you slowly shut off the water then the leakage may also stop. However, it totally depends on the source. At this stage, leave supply of water on for some time so, that the leakage can be identified, if you haven’t identified the leakage yet.
Stage 4: Find where the leak is coming from
Numerous problems can become the cause of leakage. Therefore, performing one quick check is a highly recommended. Before you call for the professional plumber, an identification of the leakage will allow you to find its possible solution in a quick manner.
Start by checking the cold water inlet and the outlet for the hot water connections. Check at the points where the inlet and outlet pipes are connected to the water heater. It is common that you might find a small leak simply because of a loose connection. What is important is that you get to tighten such a loose connection with a pipe wrench and you should be good to go. With this done, you get to check the other places too, just to be sure.
Check the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve to see if it has any leaks. Any water heater would have a TPR valve on as a safety device. The valve is important for releasing the pressure when it has built up beyond the safe levels. Check around the area the valve enters the tank to see if it is still watertight. If there is a leak at the valve, it could be cause the connection is not watertight or the valve is worn such that it releases the water even under low pressure. You might have to replace the valve whenever possible if it is the reason you are getting the water leaks.
The heater drain valve is another culprit when it comes to finding the water heater leak. The drain valve would be located near the water heater tank bottom. Check to see if the drain valve closes as it is supposed to. If the valve is watertight, then it is the reason why you are having the water leak. Even if there is a leak from the drain valve, then it should not be hard to repair at this location.
Check the bottom of the water heater tank to identify the leak. Normally you would get the tank wrapped inside with insulation to keep the water hot. You might want to wait until the water has cooled before poking around the tank. With the internal tank leaking, it would get out at the bottom of the hot water tank. Majority of the hot water tanks would do this because of having aged and deteriorated over time. For such a case, you will have to replace the water heater as the best fix.
Stage 5: Replacing or Repairing
Water heater leaking can be a big issue, and it requires some serious action immediately. Either you need to repair it, or you need to replace it, depending on the types of leak. In either of the case, it is suggested that you contact a professional plumbing service to tackle the issue. Removal of the water heater of inappropriate repairs can further worsen the situation by flooding the whole area that causes water damage. As mentioned above, any frequent leakages from the water heater can rust up as well as the pipes and this cause some serious damage to your walls and floors.
In worst case scenario, your basement can be flooded, and the structure of your house will be in complete jeopardy. Therefore, this matter needs to be considered immediately; otherwise, there will be some serious consequences. If you are thinking to dispose it off yourself, then you have to be very careful as well. Unprofessional or inadequate repairs may lead to the above-described problems as well. Professional plumbing service providers are trained experts in the field, and they are equipped with the ability to tackle any issue that may occur during its replacement. There is no need to take such extreme risk with the safety of your house and your health. If you have opted to replace the water heater, then you need to move to a tankless water heater, which further simplifies the whole setup. Tankless water heaters are gaining some serious popularity to avoid all kinds of stress, these water heaters are known as an instantaneous water heater or on-demand water heaters. They have a compact design and are equipped with the facility to provide hot water on demand. Here, the quantity of hot water is not limited to the size of the tank and the energy is used to provide hot water on demand and not to store it or keep it warm.
How to Fix a Leaking Water Heater?
In case of a minor problem and that you are equipped with enough experience to do your water heater maintenance and repairs at your home; you can fix the issue all by yourself. All you need to do is to identify the leakage source, and the next step is to do the repairs. However, fixing the water heater is tiresome work and improper repairs may create some bigger issue. In order to be sure, you can check the hot water outlet along with cold water inlet connections that are connected right on the top. A minor leakage in this area may only require some tightening of the connections with the help of a wrench. If there is anything significant, then you need to hire professional services.
A leak from the T/P valve (temperature and pressure relief valve) can cause the development of excess pressure within the tank and overheat it. This pressure will keep the valve open consistently and will cause the leak. You can bring the heat of water down using the setting of the thermostat to check if it’s the source of the leakage. Turn the power on along with the water and see. If the leakage continues, power off everything instantly. If you have determined that overheating or excessive pressure is not the causing anything, then the valve must be faulty. Place a bucket under the outflow tube and pull the tab of T/P valve . It will point straight out at this point.
Doing this expels out, and will eliminate all debris present and causing the whole system to work in an inappropriate manner. After this, if you still observe the leakage then dispose it off for a new one. Prior to replacement of the T/P valve, get rid of the water from the tank. If you don’t know about how to drain your hot water, then consult the water heater manual that came during the time of your purchase. Keep the level of the water lower; you don’t have to empty it at all. By opening the valve water flows out from it. As the tank is drained then open a hot water faucet from your bathroom or sink. This will enable some air to enter the water heater tank.
Now grab the T/P valve and rotate it counterclockwise using channel locks. Take the new piece and wrap it with the help of a Teflon tape about five or six times, this is done to prevent any leaks. Just wrap the tape tightly around the valve and into its grooves as well, then screw it with the help of channel locks and turn it 4 or five times. As the new piece is fixed, switch on the supply of cold water to fill the tank. Don’t turn it on unless it gets filled with water. Now check the faucet you opened previously. If the water starts to flow from it with full stream then your tank will be full, now you can turn the power of the heater back on. Link a tub with your T/P valve to ensure that any released hot water may not get sprayed outwards and gets straight into the tub.
Is The Water Heater Leaking From The Cold Water Inlet And The Hot Water Outlet Connections?
If you think that the heater is dripping from the inlet of cold water or hot water outlet connection, then you need to check these connections for any leakages. In case of leakage here, it can be fixed by tightening the loose connection by using a wrench and nothing else is required. Anything on a significant scale does require professional assistance. Hiring a professional plumber is highly recommended, whether or not it is a major issue. Any slight misjudgment of the situation may put your health and safety at a threat.
Is the Water Heater Leaking From The Temperature And Pressure Relief Valve?
As described above, any leakage from the T&P valve might cause excess pressure within the tank or initiate overheating within it. The pressure will keep the relief valve open, and it will lead to leakage of water. You need to check if this is causing the issue and for this, you have to lower the temperature water using the thermostat setting. Now power on the heater and see for some time. If it starts leaking again then shut its power off immediately. If you have found out that the excessive pressure of overheating due to high temperature is not the issue, then there is a case of a faulty valve. This can be replaced by putting a container under the valve and opening it using the tab. It will flush the valve and will get rid of the debris. After flushing, if you still observe leakage then you must replace the valve.
You need to drain your water from the tank to replace your T/P valve. However, you don’t need to drain all the water from the tank. Just drain enough to lower the water level below the valve. You can check this by opening the valve, and if no water comes out, then you are good to go to replacing the valve. Go to one of the faucets in your bathroom or your kitchen and open it. This will allow some air enter into the tank. Now using a pair of channel locks grab the valve and turn it counter clockwise and the valve will come off. Now take your new valve and wrap it with Teflon tape and screw it into the water heater until it is securely positioned. After you have fixed the new valve into the heater, refill the hot water tank with water but don’t’ turn the power on as yet. Scheck the faucet you opened earlier, if the water is running with the full flow then the tank is completely filled, and you can turn the power back on.
Is the Leakage Coming Through The Heater Drain Valve?
If you think that the heater is leaking from the drain valve, then you need to follow these steps. A leakage from the heater’s drain valve is caused by any debris on the inside of the valve or a damaged valve itself. The problem and its solution are pretty similar to what is explained in the T/P valve section above. You can place a container and open it by turning the valve counter clockwise. This will get rid of the debris. After the flushing, if it doesn’t work properly then you must replace your valve. If you are consider replacing the drain valve of the heater, you have to remove water from the tank to the fullest. Now the rest of the process is similar to the procedure of changing the T/P valve. Go to one of the faucets in your bathroom or your kitchen and open it.
This will allow some air to enter the tank. Now using a pair of channel locks grab the valve and turn it counter clockwise and the valve will come off. Now take your new valve and wrap it with Teflon tape and fix it into the water heater until it is securely positioned. After you have fixed the new valve into the heater, refill the hot water tank with water but don’t turn the power on as yet. Check the faucet you opened earlier, if the water is running with the full flow, then the tank has filled to the top, and you can turn the power back on. However, there is still some difference between the drain valve and the T/P valve. T/P valve is designed to provide safety to the water heater while drain valve has nothing to do with safety. You can simply buy an end cap of a bras garden hose and tight it on the threads of the valve; this should immediately stop the leakage.
Is Your Water Heater Leaking From the Bottom of the Tank?
If you experience water heater leakage from the bottom of the tank, then it suggests that there is some serious issue within the overall system. Do not try to disassemble the heater or the tank and apply any internal repairs all by yourself. If leakage is occurring from its tank, then you have to contact a professional plumbing service immediately to inspects the issue or replace it altogether.
Is Your Water Heater Still Leaking After Repairs?
Unfortunately, if the plumbing and leakage repairs are not done properly, the leakage will continue. Therefore, you have to keep its working in check even after the repair service has been done. At times, during the repairs, some of the connections may require some further tightening. If it’s the issue, then it is a minor issue and can be fixed in no time. If after the all the attempts the leakage problem persists then switch it off instantly and contact a professional plumbing service immediately. If still your leakage problems are not solve then you need to change your water heating equipment and replace it with high quality equipment.
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