It happens to just about everyone at some point: You are washing dishes or taking a shower, and suddenly you lose your hot water. You desperately hope it’s not what you think it is, but you go downstairs, and there it is: water running out of the bottom of the water heater.
Water heater leaks can be caused by many things, from loose connections to wear with age. Check out some foolproof tips to determine the cause of your water heater leak, how to troubleshoot the issue, and when it’s time to call in the experts to get it replaced.
What Causes a Water Heater to Leak
Many people assume water running out of the bottom of the heater means the tank has failed, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes there may be dripping from the top of the water heater that runs down the body. It could also be that the drain valve near the bottom of the unit is leaking.
Water heaters also have a pressure relief valve, a safety feature to keep them from building up too much pressure and exploding. This can also leak. Finally, an older or not properly insulated water heater can build up condensation on the outside, which can look like it’s leaking.
If you need help detecting a leak, contact Sin City Plumbing for an estimate!
Troubleshooting the Problem
Troubleshoot a leaky water heater slowly and step by step. First, check to make sure the drain valve is closed by turning the control knob clockwise. If the leak is coming from there, tightening the valve may fix the problem. Otherwise, it may need to be replaced. Next, check the pressure relief valve. This can be located at the top or bottom of the tank. If it’s at the top, water may be running down the tank. If the pressure valve is leaking, make sure the thermostat isn’t set too high. Otherwise, you may need to change it.
If condensation is the issue, try turning down the thermostat and turning the tank off for a few hours. If the leak stops, you’ve got condensation issues. If this isn’t the problem, the tank itself may be leaking. In this case, you will need to change the tank.
Important Safety Tips
Before you try to disconnect a water heater, first turn off the water going to the heater. There should be valves located just above the water heater to accomplish this. Next, turn the water heater’s power off. If it’s a gas water heater that’s dripping, you’ll need to locate the gas supply line valve and close it by turning it clockwise. Never disconnect a water heater without turning off the gas!
If it’s an electric water heater, flip the breaker in your breaker panel that goes to the heater. Finally, drain your water heater. You can connect a hose to it and run the water outside, or let the water from the heater drain into your floor drain if you have one.
If you’re not sure how to change a water heater, it’s always best to contact a professional installer like Sin City Plumbing. Doing it wrong can be disastrous!