Fixing a Leaking Water Heater

While it may not seem like a huge deal if your water heater is leaking, it’s actually more of an issue than you may think it is. That small pool of water in your closet or garage can over time cause mold to grow and even result in water damage to your home. That leaking hot water heater may also indicate a much more serious and possibly dangerous issue; therefore it is crucial you act quickly.

Troubleshooting the cause of the leak should be your number one priority as it’s possible the leaking is actually from a different source such as water pipes or other appliances. If you’ve determined there’s no other possible source, the culprit is most likely the water heater.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and want to try repairing or doing maintenance on your water heater to save some money, turning off the power is always the first step. With a gas water heater, simply turn the dial at the front of the water heater to “OFF”. On electric water heaters, you’ll need to turn off the correct breaker at your main circuit breaker panel, most often located in your garage.

Once the power is off, you’ll want to shut off the flow of cold water heading into the water heater by turning the inlet valve that’s located on top of the water heater to the “closed” position. If the leak is above this valve, you will need to follow the cold water inlet pipe until you see a secondary valve further down the line, sometimes it’s located on the outside of the house.

Once these two safety precautions are done, it’s time to investigate where the leak is coming from. Below are the most common areas for water heater leaks. Generally speaking, if your water heater is leaking somewhere from the top, the leak can be fixed. If you’ve determined the water heater has a leak near the bottom, the tank may need to be replaced.

  1. Pressure relief valve (TPR valve). Usually located at the top or top-side of a water heater, its purpose is to relieve excess pressure that may develop inside the tank. This part is known to fail over time.
  2. Inlet or outlet piping. Check the pipes and connections at the very top of the water heater.
  3. Drain valve. Located at the bottom of the tank, this simple valve is used for water heater draining and flushing.
  4. Water heater tank. This is the worst case scenario. If the actual tank is leaking due to corrosion or other internal problem, complete water heater replacement is the only real fix.

If you’re fairly repair savy, most water heater repairs are not too difficult. www.waterheaterhub.com is a decent site for more troubleshooting advice and instructions on how to replace common water heater parts.

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