Hot Water Heater Leaks and What To Do

It’s an age old problem.  You go down into your basement for something and you see that ominous puddle of water on the floor near the hot water heater.  You might immediately slip into panic mode because your instinct tells you that you have a serious water heater leak.  But don’t panic yet.  With a little help and inspection we can help you figure out whether you have a major problem or if it requires a simple fix.

Now, we are pretty sure that it goes without saying but, if the water is pouring out of the hot water heater then you should call us immediately.  However, if that is not the case, you will want to do a little investigating.  The first thing to look for is to determine where the water is originating from.  No matter where the leak is stemming from, you need to be aware that this is a serious matter and your immediate action will save you from having to fix floors and walls or replacing personal belongings.  It is important to act fast once you detect a water heater leak.

Before you inspect your water heater make sure that the unit itself is completely shut off.  If your water heater is a gas or oil unit you also need to make sure that the cold water line into the tank as well as the fuel source and electricity is all turned off.  If your hot water heater is an electric unit you will need to shut off the cold water line into the tank and the dedicated electrical breaker in your service panel.

It is important to note that when you are inspecting, fixing or replacing any malfunctioning pieces, extreme caution should be exercised.  Water and electric never mix!  If you do not feel comfortable inspecting or repairing your water heater, you are welcome to contact us and we will be there to help you!

Without any further ado, here are the key areas to inspect when you suspect a hot water heater leak:

The Water Lines

The best case scenario for any homeowner is the for the issue to be here.  If this is caught quickly, this particular issue can be fixed before any major damage is done to the water heater itself or any surrounding area of your home.  These water lines are generally located at the top of your water heater.  The cold water lines bring the cold water into the heater and to the hot water line that brings hot water to the rest of your home.  These water lines can be made of a few different materials – copper, PVC or PEX type tubing to name a few.

If you notice that the issue is stemming from the line where it attaches to the hot water heater unit, the problem can usually be fixed by trying to tighten those connections.  If the problem seems to stem from the shut off valve you can tighten the packing nut below the handle.  If neither of these simple fixes seem to help then you may need to repair or replace the valve and/or the piping.  Generally speaking, this is a quick fix and not a reason to start packing and placing the home on the market!

The Bottom

If the problem is located at the bottom of your hot water heater this can indicate a more severe problem.  If the leak is from the drain valve (a spigot attached to the bottom of your hot water heater’s tank), this can be a fairly simple and inexpensive repair for us to make.  However, if the leak is from the tank itself, it’s safe to say that this will require a complete replacement of the hot water heater.  But have no fear as we offer financing and may be able to find rebates for you that will help deffer the cost to you!

Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

This can be found in one of several places.  Most commonly it will be found on the side of your hot water heater attached to a long pipe.  This is the valve that allows the release of extreme heat and pressure as a safety measure.  When this pressure is released, water will begin to leak out of the valve and/or the pipe.  If you are working with an older unit, this leak may be a sign of it’s age or a mineral build up due to your water conditions.  This can also be a sign of  a change in the pressure of the water entering your home’s supply lines.  If you are still unsure as to why this is leaking or you are just not comfortable inspecting or repairing this, you will definitely want to contact us as this is a safety feature that is on the unit to protect you and your family.

If after looking in these three common places, you are still not able to locate the source of the leak, it may be time to cal in the HVAC team!  We will be able to find the source of the hot water heater leak and alert you to needed repair or replacements.