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What To Do When Your Water Heater Is Leaking

Nov 24 2023
A gas water heater

When it comes to maintaining your home appliances, one device you should keep your eye on is your water heater. If you leave leaky water heaters unattended, you can quickly find yourself needing emergency plumbing services.

This is because a leaky water heater can pose various safety and health hazards, the worst of which is an explosion if things progress for the worst. It’s critical to understand the cause of the leak and what steps to take to avoid these disaster scenarios.

In this article, we’ll discuss the potential causes of leaking water heaters and how to address them before calling a professional plumber.

Here’s Why Your Water Heater Is Leaking

There are generally a few culprits to blame when it comes to leaky water heaters:

Drain Valve

One of the most common causes of leaking water heaters is the drain valves. Specifically, a broken drain valve will cause water to leak from the bottom of the water heater tank. The good news is that they’re easily fixed.

If you discover that the drain valve on your water heater is loose, you can try tightening it with a wrench until it fits snugly. However, be careful not to over-tighten it as this could cause the valve to burst under pressure.

Corrosion or Sediment Buildup

Sediment buildup happens inside water heaters, especially if you’ve got an older unit. This leads to corrosion, cracking, or holes in the bottom of the tank, all of which can be why your water heater is leaking. Sediment is a sign your water heater needs replaced.

An electric water heater mounted on a black brick wall.

Loose Water Line Connections

If you’ve got an older unit, the leak could be caused by normal wear and tear in its water line connections. This can loosen the inlet or outlet water lines and lead to leaks. You can typically fix this issue by replacing the worn water lines or tightening them if they’re loose.

Broken Temperature or Pressure Water Valve

These types of valves help regulate the temperature and water pressure inside the water heater. Leaking water heaters are often caused by them breaking.

Too much pressure can occur if the water temperature is set to its highest setting or the exterior cold water supply is coming in too powerfully. This will affect both the temperature valve and the pressure relief valve, causing leaks.

Fixing Leaky Water Heaters in 5 Steps

Step 1: Verify the Problem

The first step is to verify that your water heater is leaking. Observe if the moisture you see from the sides to the bottom of the tank is an actual leak or if it’s just condensation. If it’s the latter, then that shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

Check by wiping down and drying your water heater, then looking closely at the tank’s exterior. Moisture developing evenly across the surface, sides, and bottom of the tank is likely condensation rather than a worrisome water leak.

Step 2: Cut the Power

If you do discover that you have a leaky water heater, then the next step is to turn it off by cutting off its power source. If you have a gas water heater, then find your thermostat and shut off the gas to ensure your water heater can be safely worked on. If you have an electric water heater, go to your breaker panel and cut off the power to your unit.

Step 3: Shut off the Water

The next step is to stop the water from flowing back to the water tank. There are two pipes connected to your water heater; one of them is the cold water inlet pipe. Find this pipe by feeling which one is cool to the touch and turn it off to shut off the water.

Step 4: Drain the Water

With the water off, the next step is to drain your water heater’s tank.

First, you’ll need to find the drain valve on the bottom of the water heater. Then you need to attach a hose (a garden hose will work!) to the valve and drain the water out. Next, attach the other end of the hose to a floor drain or a sump pit to avoid flooding your property. Ensure that the hose is snugly in place before opening the valve.

Step 5: Call a Professional Plumber

A plumber fixing a water heater tank
Your work is done when it comes to this water heater leak. Now it’s time to hand things over to the professionals because trying to replace the water heater yourself is risky business—you could further damage your pipes or hurt yourself!

Water Heater Leaking? Call 1st Rooter Today!

As you’ve learned, there are steps you can take to kick start the repair process if your water heater is leaking. However, as you’ve also learned, it’s best to leave the hardest parts of the job to the professionals like the team at 1st Rooter.

For over 25 years, we’ve been helping clients in Hamilton, Oakville, and Burlington deal with leaky water heaters. We have experience repairing and replacing all different types of units and also offer emergency services that are available 24/7.

Give us a call today for more information about our services!

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