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

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A malfunctioning water heater leaking water on the floor.

Common Causes of Water Heater Leaks 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 per year. So, if you’ve noticed your water heater leaking or dripping, get to the bottom of the issue ASAP. The sooner you do, the more 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 learn more about repairing or replacing your water heater?

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. Want to confirm if you have a defective tank (or any other possible leak), conduct a complete-house check. First, let’s start 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! Also, the low water pressure can be a sign that your water heater is leaking.

Prevent Water Heater Leaks Before They Happen!

Stay a step ahead with Corro-Protec’s powered anode rod. Prolong your water heater’s lifespan and prevent common issues before they arise.

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 Leaky Water Heater

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

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

Before attempting to work on the shut-off valve, remember to switch off the electricity supply once more after you have reactivated the heater. 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 rotate, or a lever that you can easily draw 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. 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 meant 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, it may allow water to leak out.

In this case, it is 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 and avoir water heater repair. 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 water heater 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.

Water Heater Anode Rod for Residential Tank between 40 and 89 gallon capacity

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Replace the Magnesium Anode Rod Before It Completely Corrodes

Inside your water tank is a “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 but they don’t last long (months or few years).

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

Installing a powered anode rod or changing your magnesium rod will prevent leaks in your home after a couple of years. This is also why you need to replace the anode rod before it gets completely eroded.

Install a water heater pan

Installing a water heater pan is an effective preventive measure against water damage that can result from water heater leaks. A water heater pan is essentially a tray designed to catch any water that may leak from the water heater.

This device is placed under the water heater and is usually connected to a drain line. If a leak or rupture occurs, the water is safely carried away to a drain, thereby reducing the risk of floor or wall damage. Installing a pan is relatively simple and inexpensive, but it could save you from significant repair costs and inconvenience in the future.

Don’t Forget to Maintain Your Water Heater

Aside from draining your water heater and change the anode once a year, be sure to give all its parts a thorough cleaning too. If you want to avoir water damage in case of a leak, we suggest installing a water heater pan.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general DIY guidance on water heater maintenance and does not replace professional advice or service. Risks include electric shocks, burns, and property damage. Prioritize safety, follow manufacturer’s guidelines, and consult with professionals if unsure. Comply with local laws and obtain necessary permits. Use this information at your own risk; the provider assumes no liability for any injuries or damages. If in doubt, hire a professional.

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