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Water Heater Leaking? How To Fix It In 5 Easy Steps

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water heater leaking from bottom

Signs your water heater is leaking and what to do about it.

In the US, water leaks in the average home waste 10,000 gallons per year. Worse, 10% of US households have plumbing issues so bad they waste 32,850 gallons each year. So, if you’ve noticed your water heater leaking or dripping, it’s best to get to the bottom of the issue ASAP. The sooner you do, the sooner you get to save water, money, and even the water tank itself.

Water damage can be tough to repair and cost a lot of money. Ready to put a stop to your hot water heater leaking water and wasting so much money?

Determine If You Have a Water Heater Leak

If your water heater tank seems to be leaking, it may just be moisture from the air that has condensed and formed water droplets on the outside surface of the tank. To confirm if you have a faulty tank (or any other possible leak), conduct a whole-house leak check. You can do this by monitoring your water meter.

After you find the meter, make sure everyone at home stops using water. Shut all taps, toilets, fixtures, and water appliances. Your meter should have stopped moving.

If it’s not the case, chances are you have a leak!

Confirm If It’s Your Hot Water Heater Leaking

Water Heater Leaking
Water Heater Leaking

To determine if your water heater is leaking, wipe the tank dry and then shut the power off. On electric water heater, turn off the power. For a gas water heater, simply shut off the gas.

Next, clean the valves and supply lines. Once the tank is all clean and dry, pay close attention to its exterior. If moisture develops evenly throughout the surface, then that’s likely condensation.

If you see a water heater valve leaking, this is a sign of a problem with the tank. If water seeps out of a specific spot on the tank or its water supply line, this is also a sign of a problem. In some cases, the damage may be small and it may take time for the water to seep out.

If you don’t see immediate leaks, you can check for signs of dampness by covering the area under the tank with paper towels and checking them every couple of hours. If the towels become moist or wet, this indicates a leaking problem.

If the water heater is leaking from the bottom, this is normal since any leak will find its way to the bottom of the tank inside the housing.

How to Repair Your Water Heater Leak

Close the Tank’s Water Supply Valve (Turn off the water)

If your tank is leaking, turn off the water by closing the shut-off valve. This will stop more cold water from flowing in and potentially damaging the tank.

If you turned the heater back on, be sure to turn off the power again before working on the shut-off valve. The shut-off valve is usually located above the water heater, on the cold water supply line.

It may be a gate valve that you need to turn or rotate, or a handle that you can easily pull down.

Fix the Leak

Depending on the severity and location of the leak, you may be able to fix it yourself. If the leak is at the top of the water heater, it may be an easy fix. If the leak is more severe, you may need to call a licensed plumber.

Leaking Water Connections

There are two pipes that connect to your tank top – the cold water inlet and hot water outlet. If these become loose or detached, water can leak from them. To fix this, you can use a pipe wrench to secure the connections. However, before doing so, make sure that your water heater doesn’t have power, as this can be dangerous if you’re working with the hot water outlet.

Water heater leaking - Inlet cold water pipe leaks
Cold Water inlet pipe leaking

A Leaking Drain Valve

The “drain valve” near the bottom of your water heater tank is the component that lets you drain your tank for maintenance purposes. You should flush and clean your tank at least once a year to get rid of sediment buildup. The drain valve can become loose over time, which can lead to leaks. To fix this, use a pipe wrench to slowly tighten the valve.

If the water heater is still leaking, you may need to replace the valve. This is a more complex job, so it might be best to leave it in the hands of a professional plumber.

Water heater leaking - drain valve leak
Water Heater Drain Valve Leaking

A Leaking Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve

The temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve) on your water heater is designed to release steam or water if the temperature or pressure inside the tank gets too high. If the valve becomes stuck in a partially-open position or otherwise defective, it may allow water to leak out.

In this case, it is best and safest to call a plumber. You are dealing with leaks, temperature, and excessive pressure. A mistake can cause severe hazards.

Water heater leaking - pressure and temperature relief valve
Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve Leaking

A Leaking Water Heater

Insulative materials cover the internal tank of a water heater. An outer skin then wraps around this entire part. If the inner part starts to leak, the most common symptom would be a leak that escapes from the bottom of the tank.

If this is the root cause of your water heater woes, then you’d need to replace the water heater. Unfortunately, these leaks are often non-repairable, as they’re usually a sign of deterioration.

Preventing Water Heater Leaking

Even if internal tank leaks are inevitable, the good news is that you can postpone them. With routine and preventative maintenance, you can make your water heater last longer.

Here are a few ways to delay the onset of costly internal water heater leaks :

Install a Powered Anode Rod to Prevent Water Heater Leaking

We suggest installing a Corro-Protec powered anode rod to prevent corrosion and limescale buildup. This rod is easy to install and has a 20-year warranty. Corro-Protec anodes have been on the market for over 20 years and are now protecting over 70 000 water heaters all around North America.

Replace the Magnesium Anode Rod Before It Completely Corrodes

Inside your water tank is a sacrificial part called “sacrificial anode rod.” In any case, an anode rod sacrifices itself to protect the interior of a water heater tank. It attracts elements in the water that can corrode and destroy the other metal parts of the tank.

You can think of the anode rod as a magnet. It draws in minerals and metal ions that can otherwise cause oxidation and rust in the heater.

If you don’t install a powered anode rod or never change your magnesium rod, you will have a water heater leaking in your home after only a couple of years.

Sacrificial magnesium anode rod is hard to install and doesn’t last long (only last 2 or 3 years). They are called sacrificial because they sacrifice themselves to protect the tank. Because of its purpose, an anode rod has a shorter life than the entire tank. This is also why you need to replace the anode rod before it gets completely eroded.

Don’t Forget to Maintain Your Water Heater

If you don’t want to deal with a water heater leaking in the future, make sure you are doing a proper maintenance. Aside from draining your water heater and change the anode once a year, be sure to give all its parts a thorough cleaning too. Wipe your tank’s exterior as well as its valves and water connections. This way, you can get rid of dust and debris build-up, which can contribute to reduced performance.

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