How to Troubleshoot a Leak in Your Water Heater

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You didn’t ask for your basement to turn into an indoor pool, but it seems your water heater has sprung a leak, and that is exactly what you have on your hands. Water can do a lot of damage to a home, so leaks should be addressed promptly.

Water Heater Sprung a Leak? Follow These Steps!

It is not normal for a water heater to leak. If your water heater springs a leak and you aren’t sure what to do, follow these steps to help prevent any further flooding and damage to your Cincinnati home.

1. Verify It Is Your Water Heater Leaking

water heater leak

First, determine that it is indeed a leak and not condensation. Your water heater is very hot, but if the room it is located in is cold, water may condense on the tank. Wipe the tank down and see if moisture develops evenly along its surface. If it’s condensation, there is no concern.

If it is not condensation, check nearby equipment. Is water pooling at the bottom of your water heater? Is your HVAC nearby? It could be that a drain hose was accidentally disconnected from the AC or furnace. Use paper towels to determine which equipment is leaking. Move on to step two if it is the water heater.

2. Turn Off the Water & Fuel Supply

The first step to stopping a water heater leak is to turn off the water. First, find the cold water pipe going into the heater. Then, find the knob or lever on the line and turn it perpendicular to the line.

Water and electricity do not mix, and you don’t want to cause any injuries while trying to keep your house from flooding. If you have an electric water heater, turn your power off at the breaker. If you have a gas water heater, turn off the gas at the dedicated shut-off valve on the gas line leading to the tank.

3. Determine the Source of the Water Heater Leak

What makes a water heater leak? To stop a water heater leak, you must first investigate where the leak is.

Leaking From the Top or Side

If the water is coming from the top and running down, it could be the pipes or the temperature and pressure valve, which can be fixed. The temperature and pressure valve is usually located on the upper side of your water heater or sometimes on the very top. It should be tested annually. Replacing your temperature and pressure valve should fix the problem.

It can also be that the cold or hot water inlet and outlet connections have become loose. These pipes deliver hot water to your home; if they are loose, they can cause a leak. Be careful with these pipes, as they can be very hot. If these connections seem loose, use a wrench to tighten them. Do not overtighten them, as this can cause further damage.

Leaking From the Bottom

If water is coming from the bottom of the water heater, it is an internal problem. Most likely, the water heater will need to be replaced. When water comes out of the water heater tank itself, it is usually due to corrosion from within the water heater, which has eaten away at the metal. The weakened and corroded tank has sprung a leak and cracked, and will need to be replaced.

4. Call a Plumber

Unless you are very handy and have a solid knowledge of your home’s plumbing system and water heater, it is best to leave it to the professionals. This ensures it gets fixed or replaced properly and does not cause any more damage in the long run.

Your water heater technician will drain your tank when they begin work. Once a plumber is on the way, start soaking up the mess that escaped from your water heater leak. After the water has been mopped up, put out a fan to help dry the area.

If the water heater leak is bad enough and you are concerned about more damage to your home, you may want to drain it immediately to prevent such damage. You can do this with an ordinary garden hose by screwing the hose onto the drain at the bottom of the tank and then turning the drain valve to open. You’ll need to let air in through the top, which you can do by opening a hot water faucet. Make sure you drain the tank to a proper location, such as a gutter drain or sink.

For more information about maintaining your water heater or fixing a leak, reach out to Apollo Home today. Our plumbing team is ready seven days a week for emergency water heater plumbing service in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky.

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