A soggy floor or flooded basement is the last thing homeowners want to find.
Water heater leaks cause expensive home damage, hike up your water bills, and take away your nice warm morning showers. Not to mention they can give you a swimming pool instead of a rec room!
If your hot water heater is leaking, it’s important to know why – and what you should do about it. We’ll explain the steps to take with a leaking water heater, as well as what to do about it, and how to know if a new water heater is in order.
An electric water heater or gas water heater can both be prone to leaking. Hot water heaters, in general, can deal with excessive pressure, bad water quality or debris inside and while there is preventative maintenance to help extend your water heater lifespan and prevent leaking- a professional plumber may be needed to help fix your leaking water heater or discuss if a tankless water heater is a better option for your home.
Steps To Take When Your Water Heater is Leaking
1. Turn Off Water Supply
This is crucial: when you notice your water heater leaking, close off the water supply valve leading to the tank (it should be labelled “cold” somewhere on top of the tank). Otherwise, you could experience a lot of costly, messy water damage. It’s important to know where your water shut off valve is for emergencies and water leaks like these.
2. Turn off Power Supply
For electric water heaters, you’ll need to turn off the power by flipping the breaker switch off. For gas water heaters, you should shut off the gas supply on the gas line leading to the water heater.
At this stage, your gas, power, and cold water supply line should all be shut off.
3. Find Location Of The Leak
Do a quick check of your water heater. When your water heater is leaking, it could be mean things and finding the source of the leak will help diagnose the issue. Is it a small leak or are you in standing water? Is the leak coming from the tank through a hole or is it leaking from the bottom? Is it leaking from a connection such as the cold water inlet, hot water outlet, relief valve or drain valve? Once you have inspected your water heater, you can decide what needs to be done to fix the leaky water heater.
4. Call Your Local HVAC Technician
It can all be very stressful dealing with an electric or gas water heater leak- and chances are if you need more than just paper towels to clean up the mess, you’ll need a plumber to fix the problem. The best way to make sure it gets taken care of properly is to call the Husky plumbing team. We can inspect and recommend either replacing or repairing your water heater and take that stress off your shoulders.
Why is My Water Heater Leaking?
1. There’s Condensation on Your Tank
Sometimes a leak isn’t actually a leak. If the temperature of your hot water heater is too high or there’s damage to the tank’s insulation, condensation can form on the outside. This is most common in older tanks.
As gravity works its magic, it can look like your hot water tank is leaking. To test this theory, keep your tank turned off for several hours. If the ‘leak’ stops, you should adjust the water temperature on your tank before turning it back on.
2. There’s Buildup in Your Tank, Causing Corrosion
One of the most common reasons a hot water tank leaks is because of corrosion.
Water naturally contains a lot of minerals. While not harmful to us, these minerals can build up over time. In large enough quantities, these minerals will slowly start to cause corrosion in your water heater tank.
Eventually, you’ll get some pinhole leaks. The force of the water in the tank will make the leaks bigger and bigger. If not caught quickly, these leaks will become a flood. If for some reason your hot water is only lukewarm, you may want to check for leaks and check your anode rod if your heater needs a new one.
If this is the cause of your leak, we have several water tanks available for replacement.
To prevent this problem in the future, we recommend flushing out your water heater at least once a year. This will not only wash away sediment buildup but will help increase the lifespan of your water heater.
3. Your Drain Valve Isn’t Fully Closed, or It Needs to Be Replaced
Speaking of flushing out your tank: your drain valve could be the cause of your hot water tank leaking.
Much like a tap, a water heater drain valve will drip steadily if it is the source of the leak. And like a tap, the first thing you should do is make sure it is completely shut. The drain valve is found near the bottom of the tank and looks like a garden hose faucet. Be careful to handle the valve safely, as a leaking drain valve for a working tank will be leaking hot water.
If that fixes the problem, fantastic!
If it doesn’t, that’s not so fantastic – but it’s still a pretty simple fix. Have us come and take a look at your water heater. We’ll provide a quote for the replacement part and service.
4. Your Pressure Release Valve Needs to Be Replaced
The pressure release valve is the main culprit if your hot water heater tank is leaking from the top.
You may at first think the leak is coming from the bottom – but look again. Pressure valves have a discharge tube that redirects the water down, so jets of water aren’t spitting out the top when there’s too much pressure.
A lot of the time, it’s just a simple case of a broken valve that needs to be replaced. But sometimes, it’s a little more complicated.
When your water heater temperature gets too high, the pressure builds. Then the pressure relief valve will help release the excess pressure by letting out water, keeping your water tank from exploding. In this case, the pressure release valve is just doing its job.
The best way to make sure everything is safe is to immediately turn off your water heater and have us perform a professional inspection.
5. Old Water Heater
The average tank water heater lasts 10-15 years, so it is possible your water heater has just reached the end of its life. This lifespan can be extended with preventative measures but after time, debris and hard water will corrode or parts will wear and need replacing.
Our team can suggest models and solutions that best suit your home & family needs- just ask!
6. Corroded Anode Rod
Tank water heaters use an anode rod to keep the water hot while stored. Water heaters have a cold water inlet that fills the tank, and the anode rod gets extremely hot in order to heat up the water. Similar to an electric tea kettle. It’s incredibly common for these anode rods to corrode, especially if your home has hard water, like many others in the Greater Toronto Area. An anode rod needing replacement isn’t necessarily going to cause a leak, but if the corrosion is bad it could have damaged both the rod and caused issues with the internal tank.
7. Internal Tank Is Cracked
A cracked storage tank is typically due to calcified deposits cracking the glass that lines most hot water tanks. As soon as it cracks, the water pressure builds and pushes on the glass, the internal tank leaks through the cracks and onto your floor. If this is the case, the tank will need replacing or updating to a tankless unit.
Tankless Water Heaters Are Much Less Likely to Leak
Leaks are so incredibly frustrating. It’s one of the reasons more and more homeowners are choosing to go with tankless water heaters.
Among their many, many benefits, tankless water heaters come with an emergency shut off valve if something goes wrong. You don’t have to spend time inspecting for leaks or worrying that something will happen while you’re on vacation.
You also won’t spend tons of money keeping water warm until you need it. Those are savings you can spend on other, more fun things.
Talk to Husky About Going Tankless
We can walk you through your options, and perform a clean and efficient installation. We have many different water heaters to choose from to be sure you get the best one for your home. You can have faith that your tankless water heater will give you hot water when – and where – you want it.I’d Like a Tankless Water Heater