A water heater leak may seem like just a minor issue, but if you don’t get this problem fixed in a short time, a water heater failure can cause a significant flood in your house. This can also lead to weighty repair bills, and cause mold to sprout, which can be hazardous to your health as well as lead to even more damage to your property.
Hot water heaters, whether gas or electric, will last you about 10 – 12 years (depending on how good you take care if it). Even so, there’s always a chance your water heater could leak.
Water heaters will typically leak from one of two places. Depending on where the leak is located, you may or may not need a new water heater. Take a few minutes to determine where the leak is actually coming from, and you may be able to fix the leak yourself with little or no cost.
Step 1: The first thing you have to do before starting work on the water heater, is to turn off the power and the gas, and shut off the water to the heater to avoid possible shock or burns.
Step 2: When you have completed the previous steps, you have to drain the water tank. To do this, you have to let the water flow through a hose until the tank is empty. The water should run outdoors, or to a large bucket (it’s not recommended that you empty the water inside of your house).
*Caution: Remember that the water exiting the water heater will be very hot!
Step 3: Identify the leak’s location: Sometimes the location of the leak is obvious, but a pool of water can also show up some distance from where the leak occurs. Once you experience a leak from your water heater, there are two places where the leak may come from:
1. The drain valve also called (Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve), which is the spigot at the bottom of the tank that drains the water.
2. The water heater’s tank: The leak may even be at the top of the water heater, and simply running down through the body of the heater before escaping at a lower level. Water heaters have limited life spans; it’s possible that your tank has become corroded.
If there is a puddle close to your water heater, condensation could be an explanation too. Condensation occurs when most of the water inside the tank is cold, so the cold tank, reacting with the warmer air inside the home, causes condensation. The water then drips off the tank and onto the floor, which gives the false appearance of a leaking tank.
Step 4: Repairing or replacing the tank: As stated above, water heater leaks can be a serious problem, so take action quickly!
If the leak comes from the drain valve, you have to make sure that the bottom valve is fully closed by turning the valve control clockwise. If this does not solve the problem, there could be another problem that requires a professional plumber to repair.
Replacement valves for hot water heaters are available at most hardware stores, and can be replaced using only a wrench. Turn the existing valve counter clockwise to remove it. Wrap the threads of the replacement drain valve with plumber’s tape, and then screw the new valve into the opening until it is hand tight.
If the water heater is leaking from the tank itself, you certainly have to contact a licensed plumber to replace it, because there is no way to repair a leaking tank. The inside of the tank eventually corrodes from mineral deposits and from the constant strain of heating and cooling.
If you choose to replace your water heater yourself, you will need to properly dispose of the old unit, but either way, the best advice is to call a professional plumber.
To avoid these kinds of problems, which can happen to all of us, the following practices can help extend the life of your hot water tank, as well as keep it operating at its maximum efficiency.
• Drain the tank yearly. • Replace the anode rod that is inside the tank every 6 months or so.
Any time your hot water heater’s tank begins leaking, the safest thing to do is call a professional plumber who can assess the problem and determine if you need to replace your water heater. Do you live in the Treasure Coast Area?
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of the Treasure Coast and Palm City can repair or replace your water heater, and help you choose a new one that’s right for your family’s needs.
Be sure and check out the current rebates for tankless water heaters.