It is usually pretty clear when your hot water heater is not functioning properly, but it can be difficult to know exactly what is causing the problem. If you believe your water heater has a leak, it’s important to have a licensed professional inspect your water heater. A leaking water heater can pose a serious risk to your floors, subfloors and walls. If left unaddressed, they can lead to a burst system and extensive water damage in your home.
Leaks can range from small drips to large floods, but all leaks are important to identify so that your water heater can be fixed or replaced. Luckily, Gotelli has all the tips you need to know to identify and understand water heater leaks as well as how to take action in an emergency.
How do I know my water heater is leaking?
If your water heater is leaking a large amount of water at a quick pace, call a plumber immediately!
Typical water leakage can stretch between a few drips to a puddle of collected water. Either way, the best course of action is to follow the leak to its source. Remember, some water heaters can produce condensation – or water droplets – on the outside of the tank. This does not usually indicate a leak, but keep an eye on the system anyway.
If the collected water around the base of the unit is a very small amount or not very noticeable, it’s possible that the water heater is not the source. Checking on the unit every few hours will tell you if the water has evaporated and dried up or if the water continues to grow. If the water remains, you likely have a leak. Your best option is to contact a plumber to help you find and fix the leak.
Why is my water heater leaking?
Now that you’ve identified the presence of the leak, you need to find the cause. A licensed plumber will be able to analyze and check your system with seasoned expertise, but there are a few common causes of leaks that are good information for all homeowners.
- Inlet/Outlet Connection – The inlet/outlet pipes can come loose or become damaged. If this is the case, a simple tightening with a wrench or a replacement of pipes can be your solution.
- Drain Valve – There is a small valve at the base of your water heater which looks like a garden hose spigot. If the valve is loose or has been accidentally jarred, it could be leaking. Tightening the valve or straightening it could fix your leak.
- Tank Pressure – Too much pressure built up inside your tank can cause damage and lead to a leak. A professional plumber knows how to feel along the relief valve drain line and test the pressure on a relief valve to determine if it’s broken and should be replaced.
- Age – It is important to keep in mind that water heaters generally only last between 10 and 13 years. Once they reach this age range they have a higher potential for leaks and breakdowns. Sediment collects overtime on the bottom of the tank causing corrosion and can eventually eat through the tank itself.
What do I do if my water heater is leaking?
As mentioned above, if your water heater has burst or is leaking a large amount of water very quickly, call a plumber immediately. In the meantime, your number one priority is to shut off the power and water supply to the water heater.
Shut Off Power
For an electric system, simply find your circuit breaker box and switch off the breaker to your water heater. Do this before attempting anything else as water and electricity are a fatal combination. For a gas system, find the on/off switch or dial located near the bottom of the tank. Make sure to turn off the system.
Shut Off Water
Most water heaters have a cold water shut-off valve located above the water heater to shut off the water supply. The valve will either have a handle to pull down or a dial to turn clockwise to shut off the water. If you have a serious leak and cannot reach the shut-off valve, locate the main shut-off valve to your home. Cutting the water supply to your entire home will work to at least slow down the leak.
From the smallest drips to the largest floods, Gotelli Plumbing is here to help. We will always give you honest advice on any repairs or replacements you need. If you are in need of a replacement, we will even haul away your old water heater. We are the best San Rafael water heater replacement team for you, so contact us today!