Water Heater Leaks and How to Handle Them

Plumber Working on Water HeaterYou might think a water heater leak is just a small issue, while in fact it could quickly evolve into a serious problem. Even if the amount of water leaking is small, it can still cause serious damage to your floors and walls. Even worse, water leaking from the heater might also be a sign of a more serious issue. Sometimes a simple leak could lead to a catastrophic flood which could cause a lot of damage to your home and demand expensive repairs. Our skilled plumbers have dealt with countless cases of water heater repair in San Diego, from innocent to severe, and in this article are going to answer the frequently asked questions concerning this issue.

Why is water dripping from the water heater?

There is a number of reasons why your water heater might be leaking. A common one occurs when the expansion vessel collapses and allows water to pour from the auto air vent. Once the water has no place left to expand, it will start leaking from the expansion pipes. However, not every leak has to be connected to the water heater. Check out whether the leak might have been caused by condensation or other nearby appliances. Other water lines, like the softener discharge could also be the cause of the leak. Once you’ve eliminated every other option, check the fittings on the heater for obvious signs of leak. If there are none look at other sources.

What to do if you notice the water heater is leaking?

If you find that the water heater was indeed the source of the leak, the first thing to do is to cut off its power supply. If you are using an electric water heater find the circuit breaker and switch off the one that powers the heater. You don’t want to deal with water and electricity simultaneously. If you are using gas to power your heater, find the on/off dial or switch and set it to off. If not necessary, don’t shut off the gas valve as they can become faulty over time. Finally, if the leak is obvious and severe turn off the water supply valve above the heater. The valve is usually in the shape of a dial or a handle. Before you do so, make sure you can approach it safely and avoid contact to water. If the leak is severe and you cannot reach this valve, shut off the main water supply valve. This will likely slow down or completely stop the leak.

Identifying the source of the leak

Once you’ve made sure you are safe after following the steps described above, you can try and identify the source of the leak using the following guide. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself better leave it to a professional plumber. Below, we’ll list some of the most common sources of a water heater leak and how to identify them. Inlet and outlet connections: Check the points where the cold water inlet and hot water outlet pipes connect to the heater at the top. If the leak is originating there, fixing it might be as simple as tightening a loose connection. T/P valve: The temperature and pressure release valve is usually located on the side of the heater. It is a safety measure that helps if the water gets too hot or the tank is filled with too much pressure. In this event, the valve releases some of the pressure or water out. Inspect the valve and the point where it connects to the tank. If this is where the leak is coming from, water will likely be running down the pipe connected to the floor. This leak could mean that the valve is either broken or there is excess pressure inside the heater. If this is found to be the source of the leak, this could be a cause for concern but also likely easily fixable. Heater drain valve: Find the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and make sure it is properly closed. This is one of the least dangerous and most easily fixable issues. Bottom of the heater: The heater is completely isolated and enclosed, and any leak inside of it might go unnoticed. If the leak is internal, the water will likely be leaking from the bottom of the unit. In most cases, such leak comes from the tank due to deterioration, meaning you will have to replace the water heater. If you are experiencing a potentially dangerous water heater leak, contact an experienced plumber you can trust. While these leaks are often nothing to worry about, other times they might prove to be extremely dangerous. This is why a professional should look and eliminate any potential issues.