Is Your Water Heater Leaking? Here’s Four Common Sources of a Water Heater Leak and How to Fix Them.
Replacing a water heater is sometimes stressful and can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. So when a leak is discovered, many people are quick to panic and assume that the water heater is broken and needs to be completely replaced. However, a leaking water heater does not always mean that it needs to be completely replaced. Water heaters tend to last, on average, about 8-12 years with regular maintenance and care. A small leak may be an indication that normal maintenance is needed, and this should be addressed quickly to avoid further damaging the water heater. In this article, we’ll go over the four most common sources of leaking from water heater tanks and how to fix them.
Water Heater Leaks From the Fittings and Connections
One of the most common sources of a water heater leak are faulty fittings or water connections. These fittings and hoses are where the cold water line is connected and flows into the water heater. You can check to see if the leak is coming from the fittings by feeling for water around the joints and hoses connecting to the water heater. They can usually be found towards the top of the water heater.
If you find moisture coming from the fittings, they may just need to be tightened or replaced. You can have this done by a technician, or if you are comfortable you can do this yourself. Just remember to disconnect the water/power to your water heater beforehand. If the area around the fittings is dry, you can continue on by checking for a leak on the temperature and pressure relief valve.
Water Heater Leaks From the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
Another common area for hot water heaters to leak is the temperature and pressure relief valve, or the T&P valve. The T&P valve is normally located towards the top or the side of the water heater and is made to expel water when the temperature and pressure of the water heater gets too high. This is very important because it keeps the water heater from exploding due to expansion.
The T&P valve consists of the actual valve and a release line or pipe that guides the expelled water away from the water heater. You will want to check both the release line and the valve for any moisture. If there is moisture around the valve or constant leaking from the release line, the valve may be corroded and should be replaced. If the valve is opening to release pressure regularly, you may not need a new tank, but have an expansion tank added to your existing water heater. An expansion tank is meant to work with water heaters that have water expansion issues beyond what the T&P valve is designed to handle. These are best installed by a technician, but here is a helpful video on how to replace the T&P valve yourself. If your T&P valve is dry and free of leakage, the next step is to check for leaking coming from the drain valve.
Water Heater Leaks From the Drain Valve
The water heater drain valve is located at the bottom of the water heater and is used to drain water from the tank. It is common for sediment to collect at the bottom of the water heater, and this sediment should be regularly removed from the water heater through the drain valve. This should be done twice a year, or more often if you live in an area with hard water.
If there is any moisture or leaking coming from the drain valve, the valve may be faulty or it may simply need to be tightened. First, try tightening the valve all the way (remember righty-tighty lefty-loosey), dry the valve off, and come back after a few hours to see if there is any moisture. If it’s still leaking, the valve may be faulty and need replacing. These drain valves are often plastic, so it’s best to swap them for a metal replacement valve. If you are choosing a replacement valve yourself, make sure that you choose the right size fitting for a snug fit. Here is a helpful guide to replacing your water heater drain valve. If there is no leaking coming from the drain valve, the last most likely problem is your inner tank.
Water Heater Leaks From the Inner Tank
If you cannot find any signs of moisture, or your tank is still leaking after addressing the sources listed above, there may be a problem with your inner tank. One way to check your inner tank is to turn off the power supply to your tank and remove the front door cover. Inside the door cover, you can check to see if the insulation has any moisture. If it does, that probably means that your inner tank has been damaged or rusted out. There is no fix for this, so your tank would need to be replaced at this point. This can happen as a result of your water tank aging or from the buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank, so it’s important to conduct regular maintenance on the water heater. To avoid water damage keep the water to your water heater turned off until the leak can be addressed or the water heater replaced.
Still Need Help?
If you have never performed maintenance on a water heater before, it may seem complicated and overwhelming. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available and people that are willing to help. Don’t hesitate to contact Modesto Leak Detection or your local plumber for assistance. Modesto Leak Detection can help with leak detection, maintenance, and water heater installation within the Modesto, California area, and we are happy to answer any of your questions.