Causes of Water Heater Leaks
A leaking water heater may or might definitely not seem like a major concern. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter whether it is a significant leak or a little leak, either may result in a the destruction of ones floor and furnishings from the water. Far too often, people do not realize that a tiny leak is commonly the warning sign of something more substantial that could be starting to occur, or will occur shortly in time. Ultimately, that tiny leak may turn out to be a large water mess if the water heater is about to totally give out.
It is not just residential water damage that needs to be mentioned, but also the potential health related concerns that leaking water can cause over time. The damp conditions are ideal for mold or mildew growth. For individuals who have asthma or have allergies, this is not a pleasant circumstance. The EPA states that a number of mold spores are harmful and may lead to serious health problems.
It would be nice to believe that a leaking water heater, or any plumbing leak, will fix itself so one does not have to deal with it, but unfortunately that is not the case. The leak will only get bigger, and will be causing more harm to ones home as it grows. Here are some educational details of what a homeowner can do if a leak is happening at ones home.
Steps to Take With a Leaking Water Heater
1. Ensure its the water heater that is actually leaking
If there is water near where the hot water heater can be found, the leak might not always be coming from it. Examine all water pipes or various other things around the water heater. Does one have some other home appliances close by that could create condensation? If the location of the water heater is in a basement, other appliances could be close by, like a drain from a furnace or a water softener.
The next step should be to dry up the water and examine if it returns any time soon by observing the area regularly. While one waits, it is a good time to inspect the water heater itself for any leaks. Take a look at all the fittings, the T&P valve, and the drain valve at the bottom of the water storage tank. When it is thoroughly dry, continue to look at other items and locations close by.
An easy way to see if the ground is getting wet again is to put some paper towels down once the floor is dried. Check the towels periodically to see if they are getting wet again. Sometimes it is easier to see if the floor is wet by looking at the paper towels. If it is dry still dry after a day or two, all should be okay. If the water keeps coming back, let us look at the next steps in this article.
2. Switch the water heater’s power off
Ideally, it is common knowledge that one should not mix water and electricity, so for that reason switch off the power so one will be safe.
Gas water heaters have an on/off dial which should be turned off. Leave the gas line turned on at this time still.
Those with electric water heaters, go to the house’s circuit breaker box and switch off the appropriate breaker.
3. Turn off the water supply to the water heater
If there is no doubt the leak is from the hot water heater, it does not make sense to leave the water supply to the water storage tank open, for water will continue to leak from the storage tank then. There is plenty of water already in the tank to cause harm to ones home, to have constantly refilling! If for some reason the shut off valve cannot be reached, turn the water off to the home completely.
One should be advised that water originating from the storage tank shall be hot and can cause burns to the skin. The water temperature will be around 120° F, which can result in first degree burns to ones skin.
4. Determine the leak’s location
The more one can do to help locate the water leak to help save some time when a plumber is on his/her way to ones home the better. Here are some possible places that the leak is originating from.
Leaking Water Connections
Make sure both the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet connections are tight. They are usually positioned towards the top of the unit. A pipe wrench can be used to make sure they are tight. This is a the reason for the leak, it is an easy fix.
Leaking T&P Valve
The temperature and pressure relief valve can be found on the side of the storage tank. There will be a drain pipe attached to it also. The valve controls the volume of pressure which builds up within the tank. water will come out when the pressure is too great. This valve may be not sealing tight and leaking and will need replacing in the event it does not remain shut securely. Take a look to see if any water is leaking from it. If water comes out while it is closed, a new valve shall be necessary. This is a significant valve of the hot water heater for it has an important job. Replacing it is not difficult and not costly.
First see if there is any dirt in the valve. Place a pail beneath the discharge pipe and lift the handle on the valve. The water which is released may clean the valve and remove any dirt causing it to not shut tight.
The T&P valve may also leak do to high water pressure within the city water system, or by a backflow preventer found around the water meter.
Leaking Drain Valve
The drain valve of the water heater may be the cause too. These are commonly manufactured from plastic, and for that reason, might break in time. Be sure that it is closed fully. It is easy to repair a broken drain valve.
A leaky drain valve may well be from dirt, like we discussed with the T&P valve. The first thing to try doing is flushing a little water out, like we suggested with the T&P valve. Put a bucket under the valve, or hook upa hose and let a little water run out. See if the valve closed tightly now.
Whenever the leak is originating from here and the valve continues to leak, try attaching a garden hose to it and run the hose outside the house. Hopefully that will reduce the water leaking indoors.
Leak on the bottom of the tank
When a water tank has a leak on the bottom, it is not a good sign and one that may not be able to be repaired. On account of just how the water storage tank is manufactured, being covered inside insulation and having an outer skin, in the event that it is leaking, it is going to not be visible from the outside. An interior water leak often would be noticeable in the bottom of the tank. The older that tank is, the more likely it will be to create a leak from the tank itself. There is no good way to repair a tank that is rusting through.
5. Is a replacement water heater needed?
Usually, a repair can be performed more often than one will need to replace ones water heater. The sooner one lets a proffesional water heater company inspect the unit the better. It is best to let a licensed contractor do any repairs or replacements to make certain they are done accurately and up to code. Manufacturer warranties can be voided if perhaps a non-licensed individual works upon it.