Why is my water heater leaking?

When you discover your hot water heater is leaking, all you want is a quick convenient solution before the damage becomes irreversible. If you're a homeowner, then at some point you will likely have to deal with a water heater leak. In this blog post we will discuss why water heaters leak. The good news is that a licensed plumber can help you with a malfunctioning water heater. Keep reading to learn about the most common water leak causes and how to perform regular maintenance to prevent them. Let's take a look at some of the most common water heater leaks.


1. Old Water Tank


Older water tanks are more susceptible to leaks and lower water rentention. A leaking water tank can be caused by rust buildup that results in internal corrosion. As the inside of the tank corrodes, cracks form that allow water to escape. You can patch the cracks to buy some time, but this is only a temporary fix. On average, water heaters last 8-10 years. While 10 is the age at which water heater replacement is generally recommended, the actual need to replace a heater could arise before or after this timeline.


2. Drain Valve


A common cause of water heater leaks is a loose drain valve. This component can become loose as it encounters continuous usage throughout the years. If you're having trouble with a leak, try tightening the drain valve. You may notice a mild water leak due to small openings, that weren't there before. Sometimes a simple tightening will do the trick, but if the valve is loose at the base, you will need to replace it.


3. High Pressure


Your water heater will naturally create pressure as it increases the waters temperature. But too much pressure can cause problems. If excess pressure can't escape the unit properly, water starts to leak through any cracks that are present.


4. Malfunctioning Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve


When the internal pressure of your water heater gets too high, the valve allows steam to escape the unit and return to a stable temperature. Sometimes the valve just gets loose and needs to be tightened, but if it's broken, you need to replace it.


5. Inlet and Outlet Connections


During the heating process, cold water comes into the tank through the inlet connections, and hot water exits through the outlet connections to travel through the pipes in your home. As with drain and pressure relief valves, these connections can loosen over time and cause a water heater leak. If this happens, try to tighten the connections yourself or call a professional plumber.


6. Tank Interior


Water heaters have two shells- an internal shell that contains the water and an external shell that insulates the internal shell. While water leaks coming from the external shell are easy to spot, they can be harder to catch in the internal since it's covered by layered material.


7. Collection of Sediment


This is why regular water heater maintenance is so important. If you neglect cleaning the tank, sediment builds up at the bottom and eventually causes the unit to crack. The formation of cracks can cause mild to severe water heater leaks in your home. if the tank starts leaking, all you can do is replace it entirely. So do yourself a favor and clean the tank a few times a year to prevent this from happening, and extending the life of your water heater.


8. Cracked and Damaged Storage Tank


Some water heaters have a third glass tank that's susceptible to mineral buildup. Those minerals harden over time and create cracks in the glass that cause water leaks. The only thing you can do is replace it.


9. Anode Rod


The anode rod can be a lifesaver as it removes corrosive components in the water tank. Those components corrode the anode rod so much that it practically disappears. When the anode rod isn't present to remove the corrosive substances, they corrode the tank until cracks form and cause water leaks. A simple anode rod replacement will fix the problem.


Water heaters often work perfectly for 8-10 years without any care, so they're easy to neglect. But a few minutes of water heater maintenance once a year pays off by extending the tank's lifespan and maintaining yor water heater's efficiency and safety. If there are problems occuring, here are some water heater repair tips to help keep it working:


1. Check the Valve


Test the pressure relief valve located on the top or side of the water heater. This valve opens automatically if the pressure inside the tank gets too high, (Excess pressure can actually cause the tank to explode.) To test it, place a bucket below the discharge pipe on your water heater tank and gently lift the lever on the pressure relief valve. If the valve doesn't release the water when you lift the lever, it will need to be replaced.


2. Drain the Tank


Drain the tank to flush out sediments that have settled to the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup shortens the life of your water heater and adds to your energy bill by reducing its efficiency. Draining two of three gallons of water is usually enough to flush out sediments, but always let the water flow until you no longer see particles in the bucket. Open the drain valve slowly and let the water run until it's clear and free of sediments. Caution!!! Water is HOT!!


While it's always best to preemptively address any potential problems with your water heater, sometimes leaks do occur. If you find yourself in this situation, don't panic! There are a few things you can do to try and fix the leak until a professional arrives. We hope the tips help, but if the problem persists or gets worse, please contact us immediately!


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