A water heater leak may seem like a minor problem at first but it can lead to damage to walls, floors and sub-floors if it is not addressed immediately. It could also be the symptom of a larger problem and, in extreme cases, can cause significant floods. You should routinely check your water heater for leaks as wet and damp areas in the home can also sprout mold spores, which can be dangerous and toxic. Water heater leakages will only get worse over time so you should act swiftly to fix the problem.
Turn off the power
You should turn off the power supply once you have determined that the heater is leaking. Homeowners with an electric water heater can do this by turning off the breaker for the heater in the circuit breaker box while those with a natural gas water heater can switch the dial to “off”. In most circumstances, try not to use the gas shut-off valve, as these plugs can be particularly susceptible to wear and tear over time and have high failure rates.
Turn off the water supply
The next step is to turn off the water supply if the heater has a serious leakage. Homeowners need to be careful when operating water heaters as they typically heat water at 125F, which is very hot and can cause first-degree burns. You should always be vigilant about the dangers of hot water when near your heater so remember to take appropriate precautions.
You can use the cold water shut-off valve located on the top of the heater to turn off your water supply. This valve will either be a dial-like gate valve or a simple handle that needs to be turned clockwise to close. Make sure it is safe to complete this process before doing so. If the leak is so large that you cannot reach the heater then shut off the valve for the house instead. This process should address the leak in the short term and provide you with ample time to find a long-term solution.
Where is the heater leaking?
Contact the trained technicians at RupCoe if you are struggling to diagnose the problem with your heater. There are various factors that can contribute to leakages and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. However, a routine diagnosis of the heater components can give you a general idea about what may be wrong.
You should begin by checking the hot water outlet and cold water inlets, ensuring that the connections are secure. Minor leaks may be caused by a loose pipe so tighten them with a wrench to fix the problem. The leak could also be due to a faulty pressure and temperature relief valve, which is located on the side of the tank. This valve relieves pressure in the heater if the water is too hot so make sure it is fitted tightly and that it is working correctly. The valve may be the cause if water is dripping down the adjacent plastic pipe when it is in a closed position. Any relief valve leaks are easily fixable but it could point to other problems with your heater.
In some cases, the heater drain valve may be faulty or have excess debris inside. To flush out any debris, place a container under the valve and open it by turning it anti-clockwise. If the valve is still leaking after doing this then you should replace it immediately. You can begin the process by draining the tank completely.
The water heater may also be leaking from the bottom of the hot water tank. This will not be visible as the tank is insulated and enclosed but the water will escape downwards via the rear of the heater. Unfortunately, the only solution for this problem is to buy a new water heater as the tank has deteriorated due to age.
Repair or replace?
You should always hire a professional plumber to fix your water heater problems. Depending on the severity of the leak and the cause, you will have to either repair it or buy a new unit. Poorly handled repairs and misdiagnosed problems can result in even larger leaks and long-term damage to your property, which can be very costly. Only try to repair the heater yourself if the problem is minor. RupCoe has the required skills in plumbing and heating to solve any of the issues with your heater and to take the steps that will ensure a similar incident does not occur in the future.