Water heater leaks can dump a lot of water in your home quickly, which leads to major damage along with the inconvenience of no hot water. You should know the causes of leaks and what to do in the event your hot water heater begins leaking.
Signs of a Leak
Water heater leaks can be minor or major. Minor leaks may not be immediately apparent, particularly if you do not check your heater often. The signs of a minor leak include:
- An increase in your water usage
- Mold or mildew around the water heater
- Moisture around the base of the water heater or in the drip tray
- Water dripping from the bottom of the overflow valve pipe
- Wet areas around the inlet, outlet, or flush valves
Major leaks, on the other hand, often cause a lot of damage quickly. This makes them impossible to overlook. There will be a large puddle of water, particularly if the tank burst or if the pressure built up and overflowed. Sometimes, a loud noise accompanies the onset of a large leak. Further, you will likely lose hot water in your home if the leak is major, simply because the tank will no longer hold sufficient water levels.
Common Causes of a Leak
You have several reasons why a water heater can spring a leak. Proper diagnosis is necessary since some leaks can be repaired, while others will require a water heater replacement.
Inlet or Outlet Line Failure
Small holes or cracks in the water inlet and outlet lines can lead to both minor and major leaks. Fortunately, the lines are typically replaceable, and you won’t need a new water heater. In some cases, the lines are fine, but the valves that connect the line to the heater fail. Either the valves or the seals around the valves must be replaced to stop further leaking.
Pressure Relief Valve Leak
Hot water produces steam, which results in pressure within the confines of the hot water tank. This buildup of pressure becomes a problem if it builds up too quickly. Every hot water heater has a pressure valve at the top, which is usually connected to a pipe that routes the pressure release safely to the ground.
Some leaks can be due to a faulty valve, which will require replacement. However, temperature issues more commonly lead to the leak. The thermostat may need replacing to prevent the pressure from building up to unsafe levels.
Drain Valve Issues
The drain valve is for routine maintenance, such as flushing the heater. If it is not closed completely after draining, a leak may occur. Leaks can also occur if the valve or its seals give out. A replacement valve can fix this issue.
Tank failure usually results in a major leak, with the entire contents of the tank emptying onto the ground. The tank can develop cracks or holes, often as a result of hard water and mineralization inside the tank. Leaks of this nature may also occur if the tank doesn’t get routine flushes and maintenance. Older tanks are more prone to failure.
Damage Mitigation for a Leak
You can minimize damage to your home, or at least prevent further damage from occurring, by acting quickly if you suspect a leak. You should complete two steps before calling a plumber:
- For safety reasons, first shut down the power to the hot water heater. For an electric heater, simply flip off the breaker in the circuit box that serves the hot water heater. For gas models, you must locate and turn off the gas valve.
- Next, stop further water from leaking out of the heater. Locate the water shutoff valve that serves the water heater. This is typically on the inlet line or on the ground near the heater. If you cannot access this valve, then you must turn off the water at the main shutoff valve that serves your home.
Contact Two Men and a Snake for more help with your plumbing emergency.