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What to Do When You See Your Water Heater Leaking

A close-up of water leaking out of an access panel of an electric water heater onto the concrete floor of a basement with a cinder block wall in the background.

Water heaters are essential appliances in our homes, providing hot water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, and other daily tasks. However, like any appliance, they can sometimes develop problems, one of the most common being leaks. If you’ve ever wondered about what to do when you see your water heater leaking, the team at Goodbee Plumbing is here to help! A leak can be alarming, but knowing how to respond to it can prevent further damage and costly repairs. Keep reading our comprehensive guide to learn more about what to do when you see your water heater leaking. 

Confirm the Source of the Leak

Before taking any action, it’s crucial to confirm that the water heater is the source of the leak. Sometimes, the water you see might be from another source, such as condensation, a nearby pipe, or another appliance. It’s best to inspect the area around your water heater carefully and thoroughly. Check for signs of moisture or dripping from the heater, the plumbing connections, or the surrounding pipes.

Turn Off the Power Supply

Safety is paramount when dealing with water heater leaks. If you determine that the leak is coming from your water heater, the next step is to turn off the power supply to the unit. Turning off the power supply is essential because it lowers the electrical shock or fire risk. 

Electric Water Heaters

Locate the circuit breaker panel and switch off the breaker corresponding to the water heater.

Gas Water Heaters

Turn off the gas supply by locating the gas valve on the unit and switching it to the off position.

Turn Off the Water Supply

To stop the leak from causing further damage, you need to shut off the water supply to the water heater. The water shut-off valve is typically located on the cold water pipe at the heater’s top. Turn this valve clockwise to close it. If the valve is stuck or you cannot find it, you may need to turn off the main water supply to your home. If you are having trouble turning off the water supply, be sure to either review your water heater manual or contact a professional. 

Drain the Water Heater

Draining the water heater can help prevent water damage and make it safer to inspect and repair, saving time and money. Below is our step-by-step guide: 

Attach a Hose

Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the water heater’s bottom. If you have trouble finding it, carefully inspect the water heater, refer to your manual, or call a professional. Don’t try to force something that doesn’t fit or put the hose in the wrong place, as it will only cause further damage. 

Direct the Hose

Run the hose to a safe location where the hot water can be discharged, such as a floor drain or outside.

Open the Valve

To start draining the water heater, you must first open the drain valve.. You may also need to open a hot water faucet in your home to allow air to enter the tank and facilitate draining.

Identify the Leak Source

Now that you’ve successfully drained your water heater, you can inspect it more closely to identify the source of the leak. Common areas where leaks occur include but are not limited to the following. If you inspect these areas and can’t find the source, it’s best to call a professional. 

Inlet and Outlet Connections

Check the connections between the cold water and hot water exiting the heater. Loose or corroded fittings can cause leaks.

Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (T&P Valve)

This safety valve releases water if the temperature or pressure inside the tank gets too high. If it’s leaking, it may be due to high pressure, temperature issues, or a faulty valve.

Drain Valve

The drain valve itself can sometimes become loose or faulty, causing leaks.

Tank

If the leak comes from the tank itself, it often indicates internal corrosion and a severe problem that usually requires replacing the entire water heater. 

Address the Leak

You may be able to fix it yourself depending on the leak’s source and severity; or you may need to call a professional plumber.

Loose Connections

Tighten any loose connections using a wrench. Be careful not to overtighten, as this can cause damage. 

Faulty T&P Valve

If the T&P valve is faulty, it can be replaced. Ensure you get the correct replacement part for your specific water heater model. If you aren’t sure of the particular replacement, consult your manual or take a photo of the valve before purchasing a new one to avoid getting the wrong size. 

Leaky Drain Valve

If the drain valve is leaking, it can also be replaced. In some cases, tightening the valve may stop the leak.

Tank Leaks

Before purchasing a new one, call the team at Goodbee, and we will inspect your water heater and help you determine the most effective course of action. If a new one is needed, our team can handle draining and replacing the tank without draining your wallet. 

Prevent Future Leaks

Once you’ve addressed the current leak, it’s wise to take steps to prevent future issues.

Regular Maintenance

Schedule regular maintenance checks for your water heater. This includes flushing the tank to remove sediment buildup, inspecting the anode rod, and checking all connections and valves.

Install a Leak Detector

Water leak detectors can alert you to leaks early. This early knowledge allows you to take action before significant damage occurs. These devices can be placed near your water heater and will sound an alarm or send a notification to your phone if a leak is detected. This not only gives you peace of mind but can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. 

Regularly Inspect the Area

Regularly check the area around your water heater for signs of moisture or leaks. Early detection can prevent significant issues.

When to Call Goodbee Plumbing

While a handy homeowner can fix some minor leaks, certain situations warrant calling a professional plumber. 

Persistent Leaks

If you’ve tightened connections or replaced valves, but the leak persists, it’s time to call a professional.

Tank Leaks

As mentioned, if the tank itself is leaking, it usually means the water heater needs to be replaced.

Uncertainty

 If you’re unsure about the source of the leak or how to fix it, it’s safer to have a professional like the team at Goodbee Plumbing assess and repair the problem.

Learn What to Do When You See Your Water Heater Leaking and More with Goodbee Plumbing

Discovering a leak and not sure what to do when you see your water heater leaking can be stressful, but knowing the steps to take can help you manage the situation effectively. By confirming the source of the leak, turning off the power and water supply, draining the heater, and identifying the leak’s source, you can address many common issues. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are crucial to extending the life of your water heater and preventing future leaks. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact us to ensure your water heater is safe and functioning correctly.

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