The last thing that you want to see as a homeowner is leaking around your water heater. It brings to mind the worst-case scenario; the expense of fixing or buying a new one. We have some advice from a Guelph water heater contractor that may help set your mind at ease. Not all leaks mean the worst. So the first step is to look at why the water heater is leaking and what may be causing it. In many cases, a leak only requires a small repair that can be quick and inexpensive.
Before you start diagnosing the leak, make sure you turn off the power source. For electric water heaters, power needs to be shut off at the circuit breaker. For gas water heaters, there should be an on/off switch on the heater that needs to be turned off. If you have a pretty substantial leak that is obvious, you should also shut off the water supply found at the cold water shut off valve. This will slow, if not stop the leak. Also, keep in mind that your hot water tank can be very hot, so let the heater cool down a bit before you work on it. The hot water that’s in your heater is hot enough to cause 1st-degree burns.
Possible Causes of a Water Heater Leak
Hot and Cold Water Connections
There are generally 2 main connections to a hot water heater; a connection for the hot water outlet, and a connection for the cold water inlet. Check these for any leaking, as well as the elbow joints that connect the pipes to the heater. It may be that they need some tightening or reconnecting at the joints. You can easily get replacement parts for these areas and it may solve the issue.
Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
All hot water heaters have a T&P relief valve. This valve is what regulates pressure and prevents your hot water tank from exploding. The valve works by opening repeatedly when high temperatures create steam, which increases pressure to the valve. The valve may be faulty or blocked, causing a continuous leak. You should first try flushing the valve to remove any debris. Should the valve continue to leak after flushing it out, you may need to replace it. This is a job that a licensed Guelph water heater contractor can do.
Heater Drain Valve
Near the bottom of your water heater tank is a drain valve. This valve can leak if it’s faulty or if there has been a buildup of sediment that affects the seal. You can try flushing this valve, as you did the T&P valve, to help clear any debris. If it continues to leak then you will need to replace the drain valve.
For electric water heaters, electric elements in the tank are what heat the water. The base of these elements have rubber gaskets on them to protect them from water and, over time, they will erode, allowing water to seep put through the connections. The base of the elements can be reached by a small hatch on the outside of the tank. If the electrical connections are showing signs of water damage, it’s probably down to degraded gaskets, which can be replaced.
Should you find that water is leaking from the tank itself, you will need to have the unit replaced. Tanks can erode from the inside out when heaters are not maintained properly and not flushed out regularly. Sediment builds up and causes erosion over time. In this situation, it’s best to contact a Guelph water heater contractor to properly replace the unit.