No homeowner likes to find a puddle of water surrounding their water heater. We immediately assume the worst and prepare for a battle to get back hot water without breaking our budget. Water heater repairs and replacements can be expensive, but before you admit defeat there are a few steps you can take to make the process smoother and less stressful. Our team at Gotelli Plumbing wants you to know as much as you can about your leaking hot water heater so that we can help you find a quick solution to your problem.
How Can I Tell If My Water Heater Is Really Leaking?
Before you assume the worst, make sure your water heater is really leaking. Some homeowners are unaware that water heaters can collect condensation from time to time. This mostly happens with older water heaters, but newer units can also have condensation if they have damaged insulation or their temperature is set too high.
If you think the puddle under your water heater could have been caused by condensation which traveled down the side of the tank and onto the floor, turn off your unit. Both gas and electric heaters have the potential to form condensation – turn off both kinds.
Return after a few hours and check if the water puddle has grown larger or smaller. If the leak has stopped or the water has shrunk, condensation is likely your problem. Simply lower the temperature to a safe range or keep an eye on the rate of condensation in the future. If the problem persists, contact a plumber to assist you.
How Do I Find The Source Of The Leak?
If condensation is not the culprit behind the leak, you can move on to finding the source of your leak. There are several common causes for a water heater to leak from the bottom – and some are repairable!
Near the bottom of your water heater’s tank there should be a valve. It looks like a garden hose spigot. This drain valve is used to empty the tank when needed – such as during cleaning or removal. If you can see water dripping out of the valve or around the valve, your drain valve might be loose. Double-check to make sure the valve is closed and tight. If this does not solve the problem, you may have to replace your drain valve altogether.
Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve
A temperature and pressure relief valve keeps the water heater from getting too hot by venting excess pressure. While the T&P valve is usually located on the side or top of the tank, a tube is usually connected to it to send the water down to the floor. The overflow tube runs underneath the water heater. When the T&P valve leaks, it can be mistaken for a leak from the bottom of your unit.
Check your thermostat setting on the water heater to make sure it is not too high. If it’s in a normal range, you may have to replace your T&P valve.
If water heaters do not receive regular maintenance they can build up sediment on the bottom of the tank. This sediment can consist of salt or other chemicals that can lead to corrosion of the bottom of the tank. This corrosion can cause tiny holes in the bottom of the tank and therefore a small leak. With the pressure the tank experiences, these tiny holes can quickly become much larger holes.
If the bottom of your tank is corroded, the best solution is to replace your unit. Even patches will eventually fail against the corrosion happening inside the tank.
Can You Fix A Water Heater Leak Yourself?
Anyone with experience in plumbing can fix their own water heater – especially replacements of valves. If you are sure of your capabilities to identify and repair a leak, it could be a simple fix. Remember to follow safety guidelines when interacting with power and water by shutting off your unit before working on it.
While it is also possible to replace your water heater yourself, professional plumbers recommend utilizing expert assistance to ensure the removal and installation are completed correctly. Most plumbers will also haul away your old unit for you, taking that stress off your hands.
If you have any doubts about repairing or replacing your water heater, contact the best San Rafael plumbers. Gotelli Plumbing is more than happy to assist in getting your water heater back up and running. Contact us today!