Why is My Water Heater Leaking?
Feeling a few drops of water dripping from your ceiling or losing heat in the middle of a relaxing shower are both unfortunate situations to encounter. But, a reliable plumber is just a call away to help assess the damages and repair your broken water heater in a jiffy. Handling a leaking water heater can be a confusing scenario, so we put together this article to help you understand the main causes for a water heater to become damaged and start leaking. Read on to find the most common reasons behind broken water heaters, and what you can do to prevent future mishaps.
What Can Cause Your Water Heater to Leak?
There are many different possible causes for a water heater to start leaking. Some issues are small enough for a homeowner to quickly fix, while other issues require a plumber to install a replacement. In general, it is good practice to get the second opinion of a local plumber before attempting repairs on your own. Let’s dive into some of the most common reasons that your water heater could be leaking.
- Drain Valve
- If your water heater is leaking from the bottom of the tank, it might be caused by a leaky drain valve. Drain valves drain hot water from the tank to remove sediment from the water. Occasionally, this valve can loosen, requiring a quick tightening. To fix it, you simply locate the knob or handle and make sure that it’s tightened completely. Be wary when tightening, though, because it is possible to over-tighten the drain valve and break it, causing an even worse leak.
- Cracked Storage Tank
- If your water heater has an additional storage tank, it might be causing a leak. These additional tanks are usually lined with glass. Over time, hard water can cause minerals to collect and calcify on the glass, eventually causing it to crack and leak. In addition, when water is heated in the storage tank, it expands and causes small cracks in the glass. This leaves room for a larger crack to occur, causing a huge leak. In both scenarios, a replacement is necessary.
- Anode Rod
- An anode rod is a steel wire that runs through the middle of your water heater. The purpose of an anode rod is to help counteract the natural corrosion and deterioration of water heaters and help them last longer. However, the anode rod does its job by slowly eroding into the water. Because of this, it needs to be replaced regularly. Before you have a chance to replace it, water can leak out of the hole where the anode rod was originally installed. If this is the case with your water heater, replacing the anode rod will solve the problem and stop the leak.
- Faulty Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
- The temperature and pressure relief valve help regulate and relieve pressure inside the tank. If it is broken or faulty, leaks may occur. Occasionally, the valve is loose and can be easily repaired with a quick tightening. However, if the part is faulty altogether, it will need to be replaced immediately.
- Old Tank
- Most water heaters last between eight and ten years. Towards the end of a water heater’s life cycle, it is more likely to start having problems. Years of sediment damage, corrosion, and rust buildup can cause an old water heater tank to ultimately give out. When a water heater has reached the end of its life, the only option is to replace it altogether.
Where is the Leak Coming From?
The location of a water leak on a heater lets the plumber know more about the possible cause of the leak. This can expedite the repair process, and quickly let you know if a replacement is necessary. Here’s some common locations for water to be leaking from a heater and what they could mean.
- If water is gathering on the outside of your water heater, this is nothing to worry about. Condensation is normal for water heaters when they are sitting in a room that has a different temperature than inside the tank. It does not indicate that there are any problems or leaks occurring, but it is good to double check that the water is coming from condensation, and not a leak.
- Unclear Location
- Sometimes, leaks appear to come out of nowhere. If there’s a pool of water gathering under your water heater tank and you can’t seem to trace where it’s coming from, then high pressure is likely the cause.
- Bottom Leaks
- If your leak is coming from the bottom of the water heater, then it is either a small fix or the entire unit will require a replacement. It could be caused by a leaky drain valve or a crack in the actual tank.
- Top Leaks
- If water seems to be leaking from the top of your tank, the cause could be that the inlet and outlet connections need tightening. It is less likely that the top of the tank has a crack in it, but that is a possible cause, as well.
- Internal Leaks
- From the outside, it is hard to tell if the inside of the tank has an issue that could be causing a leak. One sign that there’s an issue coming from the inside of the tank is water pooling underneath the unit. This is typically caused by age and deterioration.
How Can You Prevent Your Water Heater From Leaking?
Fortunately, when it comes to water heaters, most issues are preventable. Of course there are few problems that are unpreventable, like age. However, homeowners may have more control over their water heater’s future mishaps than they think. Let’s dive into how you can prevent your water heater from leaking and prevent needing a premature replacement.
- Regular Maintenance
- Schedule preventative maintenance appointments with your plumber. This allows for your plumber to inspect the entire plumbing system and ensure that there are no active leaks. They also inspect each component of your water heater system to see if there’s potential for leaks to happen in the future.
- Drain and Clean
- If you regularly drain and clean the inside of your water heater’s tank, then it is less likely to crack from sediment collection. This is a preventative measure that homeowners can do on their own. Simply use the drain valve to empty the tank, then use a bleach-water solution to remove any growing mildew and mold. This improves the overall quality of your water, but also prevents sediment from collecting and causing cracks in the tank.
- Tighten Loose Parts
- Tightening loose parts regularly is another step that homeowners can take to prevent any leaks in their system. Simply take a wrench and tighten any loose valves as often as needed.
- Timely Response to Leaks
- When water heaters begin to leak, it’s essential that you take action immediately. Floods are more probable if a leak is left unattended for a long period of time. If unattended for long enough, the tank also has potential to explode as pressure builds up.
Water Heater Repair, Replacement and Leak Prevention
When it comes time for a water heater repair or replacement, Pristine Plumbing has got Orange County covered. Decades of experience installing, maintaining, and repairing electric and gas water heaters has made the plumbers of Pristine Plumbing seasoned professionals. Pristine Plumbing is available 24/7 to take care of all of your water heater servicing needs. Call today to schedule an appointment to have your water heater inspected or repaired.