Why Is My Water Heater Leaking?


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If your water heater is leaking and you feel concerned, then we are here to help. A water heater leak can be a serious issue that needs immediate attention. But it's not always a serious problem.

We're going to help you discover how to tell if your water heater leak needs immediate attention or not. In most cases, we'll also recommend that you contact a plumber if something needs to be fixed.

Water heater repairs can be dangerous due to the risk of electrical shock. They can also be risky because there is potential of you causing serious damage if you don't know what you are doing. Therefore, please do not attempt any repairs unless you turn of the electricity to your water heater first AND you know what you are doing.

Ultimately, as a plumbing company in Orlando Florida committed to doing what's best for our customers, our goal is to help you avoid problems like the one described in the story below.

Water Heater Leaking From The Bottom

If you notice your hot water heater leaking from the bottom of the tank, you'll want to do your best to narrow down exactly where the leak is coming from. There are a few areas you should look. 

  1. The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (T&P Valve)
  2. The Drain Valve
  3. The Tank
  4. Other Possibilities
1. Water Leaking From Temperature and Relief Valve

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve is a safety feature built into all water heaters. The T&P valve may be located on the side or the top of the water heater. If there is too much pressure inside of your water heater, the T&P valve will allow some of that pressure to be relieved. Often, this results in a little bit of water being leaked from the tank.

If your water water is leaking water on a regular basis from the T&P valve, it could indicate that your water heater temperature is set too high. In this case, it's not a serious issue, but you can attempt to lower the temperature of your water heater. Again, be sure to turn off the electricity first. Pro-Tech offers a plumbing inspection, in which our plumber can adjust the temperature of your water heater, among other things.

2. Water Leaking From Drain Valve

The drain valve is located on the bottom of the water heater. It allows a hose to be connected to the water heater so that it can be drained. If you have recently had a plumber drain your water heater for maintenance purposes, it's possible that the drain valve did not get closed completely. If your water heater has a plastic drain valve, it may have been damaged during the process of draining the water heater.

If the water heater is leaking from the drain valve, then you don't need to panic. You can carefully turn the valve and make sure that it is completely closed. You can also monitor the drain valve for a few days and see if the leaking stops. If it continues, you may want to have a plumber repair or replace the drain valve. 

A slowly leaking drain valve doesn't necessarily mean a catastrophic leak is coming, but it can cause rust to build up or mold issues if not addressed.

3. Water Heater Tank Leaking

The most serious issue would be due to the actual tank leaking. So far, we've only mentioned various parts of the water heater leaking. But in this case, the water might be leaking from the tank itself. 

In this case, that means there is probably already rust building up on the inside of the tank or some other kind of damage to the tank has occurred. 

You should begin planning to replace the water heater as soon as possible. You shouldn't attempt to flush the tank or do anything else to the tank that could trigger a catastrophic failure.

4. Other Possibilities

Occasionally, we notice water pooling around the water heater due to issues unrelated to the water heater. For example, pipes in your wall may develop pinhole leaks over time. The water may be leaking from your wall very slowly and pooling up on the floor near your water heater. Closely examine the wall and ceiling around your water heater to see if water might be leaking from a pipe in the wall.

It can sometimes be hard to pinpoint the exact location of a water heater leak. So make your best effort to locate the exact source of the leak. Again, if you need help with this process, a plumber can usually help locate the leak much faster.

Water Heater Leaking From Top

If your water heater is leaking from the top, then it is likely that the problem is actually the connections coming in or out of your water heater and not the water heater itself. These leaks can be corrected by a plumber. If left alone, a water heater leak on the top of the water heater tank can cause rust to develop. So, you shouldn't ignore water leaking from the top of the water heater. Some of the things to check out include:

  1. Cold water inlet
  2. Hot water outlet
  3. Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

WARNING: Be very careful checking for water leaking from the top of your water heater. It can drip down the side of the water heater and contact other parts of the water heater that have electrical current. Always turn off the breakers supplying electricity to your water heater before doing any kind of maintenance or inspection.

1. Water Leaking from Cold Water Inlet

The cold water inlet allows water to come into your water heater before it gets heated. Depending on the age of your water heater, you may notice water leaking from the cold water inlet connections.

Your cold water inlet might be leaking due to the fitting being loose or a leak in the pipes bringing water into your water heater. In either case, the fix will not require replacing your water heater. Simply tighten the pipe or have a plumber replace any section of pipe that is leaking.

This isn't an extremely serious issue, but keep in mind that water leaking onto your water heater can cause rust to build up and also lead to mold issues.

2. Water Leaking From Hot Water Outlet

Once your water heater has heated the water, it exits the water heater from the hot water outlet on top of the water heater. Just like the cold water inlet, leaks at this location are often due to a loose fitting or a leaky pipe. Tighten the connection or contact a plumber to replace the leaking pipes.

3. Leaking T&P Valve

In many water heaters, the T&P valve is located on the top of the water heater. The job of the T&P valve is to allow water to escape when the pressure is too high. But your T&P valve shouldn't normally be leaking water. 

If the T&P valve is regularly leaking water it is a sign that the pressure in your water heater is too high. This could be due to the temperature being set too high or the buildup of sediment in the tank. The T&P valve could also leak simply because it needs to be tightened or replaced. 

In any case, it's something you want to get addressed. Try to lower the temperature of your water heater first. If water continues to leak from your T&P valve, it would be wise to get a plumber to inspect it and see if there is a problem. Again, Pro-Tech offers a plumbing inspection that includes an inspection of your water heater by a plumber.

Conclusion: Take Water Heater Leaking Seriously

A leaking water heater isn't always a sign of imminent danger, but it should be checked out as soon as possible. It's very rare that your water heater just fails catastrophically without warning. Usually there are small leaks that occur on the tank itself indicating an underlying problem. So do your best to pinpoint the location of the leak using this guide.

Pro-Tech offers a plumbing and safety inspection, which includes a close examination of your water heater as well as a water heater flush (given that it's safe to do so).  If you need to have your water heater replaced or you need water heater repair, please give us a call at (877) 416-4727.

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