A water heater has an important role in your home. From early morning showers to cooking, not to mention the countless times you wash your hands, a water heater supplies the hot water you need to get through daily tasks. But over time your heater may start to show signs of wear and tear—and this usually starts with leakage.
A leaking water heater could be caused by issues such as an open drain valve or corroded hot water tank. Whatever the case may be, a water leak shouldn’t go untouched. Let’s take a look at the top reasons your water heater is leaking and how to fix it.
Top Causes of Water Heater Leaks Near the Top of the Tank
Damaged Pressure Relief Valve
Especially for older heaters, one of the top causes of water heater leaks stems from either a faulty pressure relief valve or a buildup of debris inside the valve. Both prohibit the valve from operating correctly, which in turn causes a water heater leak.
How to Fix
If the water heater temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve is producing a leak near the top of the tank, try tightening the connection. You can even wrap Teflon tape around the thread connection to the hot water tank.
Do you notice debris inside the valve? To fix this problem, place an empty container under the overflow tube and pull the tab on the pressure relief valve so that it points straight out. This will open the valve and flush out any particles and debris. If you’re still experiencing leakage, you may need to replace your leaking water heater.
Malfunctioning Cold Water Inlet & Warm Water Outlet Pipes
A loose connection is another cause of a leaking water heater. Over time, connections to your outlet pipes may loosen, causing water to seep through. To prevent damage to your flooring and walls, it’s important to resolve this issue.
How to Fix
To repair this, you’ll simply need a pipe wrench to re-tighten the connection. If the water heater is leaking after you’ve tightened the connection, contact a technician right away. A leaking water heater may signal that it’s time for a repair or replacement.
Top Causes of Water Heater Leaks Near the Bottom of the Tank
Leaking Overflow Pipe
If water is moving from the pressure relief valve through the overflow pipe and onto the floor, too much pressure may be building up inside the hot water tank. This causes the pressure relief valve to drain water in order to release the pressure. Pressure relief valves are an essential component of your system. If excess pressure is not released, the leaking water heater tank could potentially explode.
How to Fix
Switch the water heater thermostat to the lowest setting. Next, turn on the water supply and power. Watch your water heater for a moment. If water continues leaking out of the overflow pipe to release pressure, turn your water heater off and contact a certified technician right away.
Drain Valve is Leaking
A leaking drain is one of the less trivial water heater issues. Sometimes, excess debris builds up in the valve causing it not to work properly. Other times a faulty valve is the culprit; if that’s the case, you will need a replacement. A lot of times, your drain valve simply needs to be tightened.
How to Fix
To fix the leaking drain valve on your water heater, tighten the valve. If the water heater continues to leak, check the valve for debris that may clog the drain. To flush the drain valve, place a bucket or bowl under the heater drain valve and open the valve for a few seconds. This will clear out any debris. Once you’re done, close the valve again.
If you’ve tried both of these solutions and the drain valve is still leaking, this could be a sign that you need a drain valve replacement. Though you can delay this problem for a little while by screwing on a garden hose spray nozzle or hose cap, this only serves as a very temporary fix. It’s best to contact your local technician to get the repair you need to fix your leaking water heater.
Top 5 Signs That Indicate It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater
Water leakage isn’t the only indication that something’s wrong with your water heater. Here’s a list of other signs that may indicate it’s time to repair or replace your leaking water heater.
No Warm Water
Essentially, you need warm and hot water to perform basic household tasks such as showering, washing dishes, and completing laundry. If your warm water isn’t running, you’ll notice right away. The loss of hot water can come from a variety of heater issues including improper tank size, a faulty thermostat, or a broken heating element.
Odd Water Heater Noises
Another sure indicator of a failing or leaking water heater is unusual noises. Different sounds indicate different water heater problems. Crackling, hissing, popping, and sizzling could imply poor water flow, condensation, or debris blockage. A rumbling noise could point to dirt in the heater. On the other hand, humming sounds signal a possible broken heating component. Having a technician diagnose the problem effectively is the best way to get to the direct cause.
Age of the Water Heater
As your water heater nears the end of its lifespan, it will start to show signs of doing so. Sediment buildup will develop on the base of the hot water tank, resulting in inefficiency and accelerated damage.
Corrosion in steel pipes can gradually spread and eat through certain areas of your water heater. If you start to notice rust in your water supply or tank, expect a water heater leak in the near future. Rust can happen in many areas of your water heater. If rusty water appears in your hot water from the bathtub, sink, or faucet, there’s a good chance you’ll need a water heater replacement. If your cold tap water is rusty, this is a sign of rust in the pipes behind your walls. The only way to determine the source of rust and avoid a leaking water heater is to contact a professional plumber and have them locate and fix the issue immediately.
Water Heater Repair and Installation Services Near You
When you’re in need of expert plumbing services, contact our team at Wm. Henderson. In addition to water heater repair, installation, and maintenance services, our staff also offers other types of plumbing and HVAC solutions for damaged water lines, gas leaks, broken sump pumps, and inefficient air conditioners. Give our team a call by phone at (484) 206-8594 or book an appointment online to receive trustworthy heating and air conditioning repair near you in areas of Pennsylvania such as Broomall, Coatesville, Conshohocken, and West Chester.
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