When the water heater is leaking, we all go into a panic. There is a mess to clean up, and you need to figure out why the device is leaking.
Furthermore, the water leaking from a water heater can be… a lot! It can create a lot of damage to your floors and furniture.
According to Dome Home Automation, A home flooded with 9-12 inches of water costs approximately $18,930 in repairs.
So with this article, we’d like to help you deal with this unfortunate event. We are going through all the major reasons your water heater is leaking. This way, you can fix it sooner and avoid further damage.
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Causes of Water Heater Leaks
There are many reasons due to which your water heater might be leaking. Let us have a look at them:
1. Old Tank
Tank water heaters that are more than 15 years old start to leak due to wear and tear. They also affect the heating of water and do not function properly.
The leakage in such old water heaters could be a result of corrosion which leads to cracks in the water tank.
In such situations, there is no option left but to replace your old water tank and get a new one.
2. Lot of Pressure
Water heaters, too, deal with water pressure that occurs naturally. The pressure inside the water heater is created due to hot water steam that fills the tank.
The tank starts leaking when the water pressure or temperature is too high, and there is no space for the steam to pass through.
3. Internal Tank
Water heaters consist of two shells, one internal & one external. The internal shell holds water, while the external shell provides insulation.
It is very hard to spot a leakage in the internal tank, but this could happen due to the age & corrosion of the heater in most cases. In such cases, you will need to replace your water heater.
4. Loose Gaskets
If the water is leaking out from your electric water heater, then it is probably due to the loose gasket.
To confirm if this is the issue with your water heater, you will need to remove the hatch covers and access the gaskets inside.
If you do find it to be leaking, then you can call a professional for help.
5. Sediment Collection
Water consists of minerals and other compounds, which leads to the formation of sediments at the bottom of the tank.
When you do not flush or drain your water heater from time to time, the sediments will give rise to corrosion and will crack the heater.
This causes leakage in the tank. To avoid this, make sure you flush your water heater every year.
6. Corroded Anode Rode
Anode rode in the water heater attracts the corroded components so that the water heater itself remains safe.
But after a certain time period, the Anode rode becomes non-existent because of all the corrosion. In such cases, you can get the Anode rode replaced.
7. Inlet and outlet connections
The hot water in the water heater passes through the outlet connection, while the cold water runs through the inlet connection. Over time, the outlets loosen up and cause a leak.
8. Drain Valve
Drain valves are used by plumbers and homeowners to empty and clean the valve. Over time, this could loosen up and cause the leak.
In such cases, you will need to replace the drain valve, which you can do by yourself or with the help of a plumber.
9. T&P Valve
The T&P valve or the temperature and pressure relief valve could also cause a water heater leak.
This valve works by releasing pressure inside the tank, and when it does not work, the pressure inside the tank increases, which causes water leaks.
Sometimes you just have to tighten the loose valve to fix the issue, and if some other part has an issue, then you will need to replace it. 1
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How to Drain & Flush Hot Water Tank?
Where is the Water Heater Leak Coming From?
Knowing from which part the water is leaking in a heater can help the homeowner to have some idea to guess the cause of the leak, and most importantly, it can help the plumber to identify the problem with the heater and help them in fixing it.
Here’s how you can identify where is the leak in the water heater coming from:
- Top Leaks: If your water heater is leaking from the top, then it is most probably due to the inlet and outlet pipe. In such a case, repair, replacement, or tightening of the inlets can solve the issue. The water heater might leak due to cracks, but it is highly uncommon for a heater to crack from the top.
- Bottom Leaks: A leak at the bottom of the tank could be due to a crack in the water tank or drain valve. Drain valves can be fixed by tightening them, but if there is a crack in the water tank, then it will most probably need replacement.
- Condensation: Many times, homeowners, mistake condensation for a leak. Condensation can happen due to varying temperatures in the room and that of the heater itself.
- Undetermined Cause: In some cases, it might be hard for you to judge where the leak is coming from. Too much pressure in the water heater is one such factor, among others. If the leak is persistent, and you are still unable to determine its cause, then you should call a plumber. 2
How to Fix the Water Heater Leaks?
So, let’s say you’ve just found a puddle of water around your water heater. What to do?
1. Make sure that there’s actually a leak
Before acting on your water heater or calling for a repair service, make sure it is your water heater that is actually leaking.
Sometimes, when you have some water around your water heater, it can be because of condensation… You have condensation when the water heater (that is hot) is placed in a very cold room.
Condensation is not a problem; it doesn’t mean that your water heater needs to be repaired.
If the water that comes from condensation is damaging your floor or furnishing, you can warm the room so that there is a lower difference in temperature between the device and the room.
2. Turn the power off
If water is leaking from your water heater, you should turn it off as soon as you can. You should shut it off completely: it means that you need to turn the gas valve or the electric power source off.
After that, shut off the water supply. Find where your water supply comes from; there is certainly a water valve.
Turn it close to stop the water from coming into the water supply. This is also important to stop the water from leaking and avoid further damage.
3. Find where the water is leaking from
To find out where the water is leaking from, start from where the water builds up and act this way:
- Clean the water
- Turn the water heater back on and watch the area carefully
- You should now see clearly where the water is coming.
- Find out the cause of the water leaking
5. Fix the issue
If the problem is with pressure or connections, you can try to fix it on your own. You’ll need to call a repair service if it’s more complicated.
If there’s a crack in your water tank, you may want to replace your old water heater with a new one. 3
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How to Prevent Water Heater Leaks?
You can control some of the leaks, and fix others yourself. But in some cases you might need to call a professional.
So here’s how you can prevent your water heater from leaking:
- Drain or Flush the heater tank: Water tanks can accumulate sediments which can lead to leakage and even corrosion. To avoid this, make sure you flush your water heater once a year.
- Tighten the loose parts: Water leakage can happen due to loose parts, so make sure all the components of your water heater, such as inlet and outlet pipes, etc., are tight.
- Maintenance: You should call for a plumber every once in a while for maintenance. The maintenance allows the plumbers to identify any current or potential problems that may arise and help you avoid them.
- Self-Inspections: The homeowners should also do monthly checks on their heaters to determine if there are any cracks in them, if any parts have loosened up, etc. This will ensure that you do not face a bigger problem later due to negligence. 4
Common Water Heater Myths
Leaks in water heaters are common, and it could be due to any reason.
Some issues can be dealt with yourself, some by plumbers, and some serious issues may require you to replace the water heater altogether.
We hope this guide was able to help you understand the leaking issue with your water heater.
Can I use my water heater when it is still leaking?
Yes, you can use the water heater even when it is leaking.
However, you should determine the cause of the leakage and get it fixed before it causes more trouble.
For how long will my water heater lasts if it starts leaking?
The water heater lasts for 12-15 years, and if it has started leaking, then you should get it fixed.
If the leakage is due to corrosion or deterioration, then it might affect the life of the water heater.
How much will it cost me to get my leaking water heater repaired?
The average cost of getting a water heater repaired is $506. However, the cost is dependent on the cause of leakage.
As in certain cases, you might have to replace the heater altogether which might cost you $1300-$5500.
Daleyza is a blog writer at National Planning Cycles (NPC) and has been since 2018. She is an expert in the field of water heaters, as she has extensive knowledge on the subject. Her expertise extends to researching the various types of water heaters available and understanding their different functions. She has years of experience testing and reviewing water heaters, and she knows the best use cases, costs, replacements, installations – you name it!
When she’s not writing, Daleyza can be found spending quality time with her family. She is passionate about bringing her expertise to others in the form of her blogs and loves being able to help inform people about water heaters.
The National Planning Cycles is committed to producing high-quality content that follows industry standards. We do this by using primary sources, such as white papers and government data alongside original reporting from reputable publishers that were appropriate for the accuracy of information while still being unbiased. We have an editorial policy that includes verifiable facts with due credit given where applicable.