A leaking water heater can range from a small, barely noticeable drip to a major flood. Either way, the damage to your home and property can be extensive. Water can damage your walls and floors and over time lead to unhealthy mold and mildew.
As water heaters age, the risk of leaks causes by corrosion or valve failure increases. Even though you may notice water near the water heater, it may not be coming from the tank itself, but could be a leak from a nearby appliance. It's also fairly common to have condensation on pipes drip onto the floor, especially during humid summer months. Look closely around the base of the water heater, the supply lines at the top of the water heater tank and around the valves for signs of leaks. Water heater leaks typically occur in one of these locations: the cold water inlet and hot water outlet, the pressure relief valve, the drain valve, and the bottom of the tank.
If the leak is determined to be from the water heater unit, the first step is to turn off the power. If it's an electric water heater, turn the power off from the circuit breaker panel. For a gas water heater, shut off the power supply that is attached to the unit. This is done by turning a knob to the OFF position. Next, turn off the water at the cold water shut-off valve located near the top of the water heater.
In some cases water heater leaks can be repaired, for example, a valve or pipe connection can often be replaced. However, in the case of older water heater tanks, replacement is usually a safer and more cost-effective option. Repairing a water heater is not a DIY project, but a job that should be handled by a professional plumber.
Preventing Damage From Water Heater LeaksFor an extra measure of protection from water heater leaks, specially designed drain pans can be installed underneath the water heater to divert water leaks to a floor drain. These can prevent a significant amount of damage, particularly if the water heater is located on an upper level of the home. There are also special water leak alarms that can turn off the water supply when a leak is detected from the water heater or another source in the home.
Have water heater questions? Call MR Plumbing, Heating Air Conditioning and Electrical. We can help with all your water heater repair and installation needs.