First, find where the leak is coming from. Even if a small amount of water is below your water heater, it may not be the water heater that is leaking. Wipe up the water and inspect the area. Are any of the fittings wet or are you seeing any other signs of leakage?
Check your surroundings for other possible sources of water. Is the water found near a window or another water pipe? Keeping gravity in mind, if your floor slopes at all, water may have traveled from another area to where you found it.
If you can’t determine the cause right away, put down some paper towels where you found the water and check back in a few hours to a day or two.
When you come back, If the towels are wet, then you know there is a problem and the water heater may be the culprit.
If you’ve determined that it is your water heater that is leaking, follow the steps below to asses the situation or just give us a call to have one of our skilled technicians come take a look.
FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO ASSESS THE SITUATION:
- If you experience a leaking water heater, it is recommended to turn off the water to your tank. Your water heater tank should have a dedicated shutoff valve on the cold inlet pipes.
- If this is a gate-style valve (a wheel that turns), turn the valve clockwise as far as you can.
- If the valve is a ball-style valve, turn the handle 180 degrees.
- If the valve is broken, you can shut the water off to your home. Each home should have a main water shut off valve that would stop the flow of water to the entire house. If you are unable to locate this shut-off valve, please give us a call and we can schedule a time to have one of our service technicians out to your home to help you right away.
FOLLOW THE STEPS BELOW FOR EITHER AN ELECTRIC OR A GAS WATER HEATER.
Electric Water Heater
- If you have an electric water heater and are experiencing difficulty, we recommend that you shut off the power at the breaker before working with the tank. Just flip the breaker to off.
Gas Water Heater
- If you have a leaking gas-powered water heater, we recommend that you shut off the gas supply before working with the tank. There should be a dedicated gas shut off valve on the gas line leading to the tank. See below for a visual illustration of a gas water heater shut down.
Once your water and power have been turned off, you can better assess the situation and determine where exactly the leak may be coming from.
Check the inlet and outlet.
Where pipes connect to your water heater are often sources of leaks. Check the cold water intake and hot water output connections.
Are any of the fittings lose? They may just need to be tightened with a pipe wrench.
Check the pressure relief valve.
The pressure relief valve, also called the T&P valve, may release water as a safety measure if too much pressure builds up. If your temperature is set too high, or if the water pressure to your home is excessive, pressure can build up causing leaks at the valve.
Check the thermostat settings to make sure the temperature is not turned up too high. (and you can check the pressure of your home using a pressure gauge at a hose bib) What temperature should your water heater be set to? Most manufacturers have a default setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, however, the Department of Energy recommends setting your tank-based water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are seeing water leaking from the T&P valve, either it’s doing its job by expelling water when the pressure builds up, or the valve itself is faulty. If your temperature is not set too high and you are still seeing leakage, the problem may be with the valve itself.
Check your water pressure.
It’s also a good idea to check the pressure as well as the temperature. You can check the pressure by using a pressure gauge at the hose bib outside your house.
What if my inbound pressure is too high? Your inbound water pressure should not be over 80 PSI per code, and if the pressure is over 100 PSI, we strongly recommend you put in a pressure reducing valve. Your water pressure may not only be causing a leak, but it may also be causing damage to your fixtures.
Check the bottom of the water heater.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the source of a leak, especially if water is collecting below the tank itself. Water leaking from a valve may run down the sides of the tank giving you the impression that the leak is coming from the bottom, but it’s really originating from the top or sides. If the leak is coming from the bottom of the tank, the tank itself may be cracked, which means it will need to be replaced.
Check the drain valve.
Located towards the bottom of the tank, the drain valve should be closed completely, so make sure there is nothing leaking from this point. If it is leaking, the washer inside may be worn and need replacing.If you still can’t determine where the leak is coming from, give us a call and one of our technicians will be able to assist you.
Regardless of what you find, it’s always best to have a professional inspect your water heater if you find any leaks.