Water leaking is a massive problem for any home or business establishment.
And honestly, a leaking water heater is not something that a homeowner would identify immediately. This is mainly because heaters are placed in a location not frequented by family members. Thus, one usually finds the fault only when the leak has aggravated.
Most homeowners don’t know how to fix a leaking water heater — so if you are in the same boat, this guide is for you. This article aims to throw some light on the subject and help you if your water heater is leaking.
What To Do With Leaking Water Heater
1. Find the Source of the Water Leak
Water heater leaks often go unnoticed since the tank is usually placed on the terrace, which residents do not frequently do.
If you suspect that the water heater is leaking, the first thing that you must do is conduct a thorough examination of the appliance. Check pipelines and the tank of the heater for any signs of water leaks. This will help you understand whether the water heater or any other source causes the water poodle at your home.
2. Cut The Power
Once you identify the source of the leak, immediately turn off the power source or the heater’s gas supply. Since water happens to be a very good conductor of electricity, a leaking electric hot water system can endanger your family and put you at risk of electrocution.
Therefore, it is better to switch off the water heater’s power even before you inspect the appliance. You must remember this while checking all electrical appliances, not just when handling electric water heaters.
3. Turn Off The Cold Water Supply To The Heater
Cutting off the cold water supply to the heater tank is essential by turning the shutoff valve clockwise. If the cold water inlet valve is a ball valve, you must turn the handle by 180 degrees.
4. Find The Exact Position Of The Leak
The position where the leaking water is accumulating tells a lot about the probable location of the leak. Some areas of the water heater that you must inspect are as follows:
At The Top
The inlet or outlet pipe might leak if you see water seeping from the top of the heater. In that case, tightening the joints using a wrench would solve the issue.
Anode Rod Port
A corroded anode rod port sometimes causes the water heater to leak. So, if you see water bubbling up from the rod joint, it could mean that the anode rod has been oxidised and needs immediate replacement.
Contact a plumber without delay since ignoring this problem can cause your water heater to burst, causing terrible accidents. A rusted rod is likely to cause rusting in the inner lining of the water tank. Therefore, you may need to replace the tank altogether if the problem is not detected early.
Loose Pipe Joints
This is a fairly common problem that leads to leaks in the hot water system. You can quickly fix this issue by tightening the pipe fittings using a spanner or a pipe wrench. However, be careful and observe if any rust has formed around the edges of the joints. If so, it is better to get your water heater inspected by a professional.
Fault In The Expansion Tank
If the threaded connection of your hot water expansion tank is leaking, try taking it out of the connecting point. Now, apply thread sealer, place it back in its position, and fasten it properly.
However, if any other part of the expansion tank leaks, you may have to replace the entire tank. Therefore, it is better to hand over the task of repairing the water heater to an experienced plumber.
At the Side
If the leak is at the side or bottom of the hot water tank, the problem could lie in the temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve).
The relief valve is designed initially to release water whenever excessive pressure builds up. Check the pressure of the water heater tank after decreasing the temperature. If the pressure is still high, the pressure relief valve may be faulty, and you should hire a licensed plumber to replace it.
At The Bottom Of The Tank
An unexplained pool of water at the bottom of the tank could indicate a crack in the hot water system. Unfortunately, such a fault cannot be easily repaired, and you’ll have to replace the water heater. However, before you start panicking about the massive cost of replacement, take a moment to find out the exact position of the water heater leak.
One of the first places you should look at is the drain valve. Another possibility is that the source of the leak could be somewhere at the top of the heater, and water trickling down has accumulated beneath the appliance. If possible, remove the access panel and inspect the area for signs of moisture.
Leaky Drain Valve
All hot water heaters come equipped with a drain valve located at the base of the heater. The purpose of this drain valve is to empty water from the heater tank for routine cleanups and maintenance activities. A leaky water heater drain valve can be identified by moisture or water dripping around or out of the valve’s opening.
Replacing a drain valve is not very difficult, but it is advisable to seek expert help. The drain outlet is to be connected to a normal water hose to clear out water from the tank. You must always switch off the water inlet before proceeding with this activity.
After the tank is empty, you can replace the loose drain valve with a new one that can easily be purchased from a local hardware store. A spanner or pipe wrench shall be required to remove the said valve, so keep that handy. Remember to cover the new valve’s threads with a joint compound before tightening it, as that will prevent further leaks.
Condensation In The Water Heater
Some old hot water systems experience condensation. This usually occurs if the temperature of the thermostat is set to be too high. Another cause of the same is the damaged insulation layer of the tank. Turn off the gas valve if you handle a gas hot water heater.
However, if you have an electric heater, turn off the power supply, and let the heater sit idle for a few hours. After some time, ideally, a few hours, check if the leak persists. If the appliance stops leaking, you can safely conclude that the root cause of the problem is condensation.
Double-check if the leak reappears upon switching on the heater at a high temperature. A tank with poor insulation often needs to be replaced with a better-insulated variant. You can even consult an expert to discuss whether the insulation layer could be repaired, but the chances of the same are relatively low.
Oxidation Of The Tank
Water heaters require frequent and regular maintenance. If a proper maintenance schedule is not adhered to, the accumulated salt, chemicals, and residue will rust and damage the tank’s inner lining. Once a tiny leak is formed, the water pressure inside the tank shall force the leak to magnify over a short period of time.
Contact An Experienced Plumber
Water heaters are complicated devices that should ideally not be tampered with by unlicensed individuals. The intensity of defects may vary depending on whether you have an electric water heater, a gas water heater, or a solar one.
If you seek professional help to fix a water heater, you may contact Big Blue Plumbing Golden Beach. This plumbing agency, located in South East Queensland, is known for its excellent customer service and the multiple five-star ratings testify to the same.
Is your hot water heater leaking? Get it fixed early because delaying plumbing repairs is never a good idea!