Hot water is essential for a quality life at home. If there is any problem with the water heater, it can put a damper on daily activities like showering, washing clothes, cleaning dishes, etc. Therefore, when leaks occur in the water heater, it needs to be addressed at once.
Water heater leaks can also mean a lot of water wastage. This could result in high water bills and the energy bills. Continuing to ignore the problem can mean that the insulation of the water tank is affected. Due to the leak, the heat will begin to escape the container and extra energy will be used to provide a sufficient amount of hot water.
When ignored, the water leak may develop into a bigger hole causing complete failure. The result will be heavy flooding that causes a lot of damage. You would then have to spend more on huge repairs. Water damage to the walls and floors also means that the house structure is going to get weakened.
Leaks can cause water to collect under the tank. Stagnant water can develop mold and fungus that comes attached with health concerns. Flooding of hot water can also result in injuries like burns or scalding.
To prevent problems when your water heater begins to leak, you need to take the following steps to sort out the issue.
Determine the Source of the Leak
It is important to narrow down the exact source of the leak. If the leak is happening from a location other than the water heater, then tinkering with such a complex appliance can end up causing more damage.
Locate where the water is dripping from. If you can’t detect the source, then clean up the water and check again after a few hours. If you don’t find a puddle again, it may be nothing. If you do, then the water heater may indeed be the source.
The leak could be coming from several locations so make sure to check the following places:
- The hot water outlet and cold water inlet connections can be the cause of the leak. If you find a leak here it can be fixed very easily as the cause of the leak is probably just a loose connection. All you will need is a pipe wrench to solve the issue.
- The pressure and temperature reliefs can also develop leaks. The pipe running down the floor comes attached to these relief valves. The valve can develop leaks if it is malfunctioning, causing an imbalance in temperature and pressure within the tank. Make sure you deal with this issue at once, as temperature and pressure imbalances are a serious problem which can lead to high costs in replacing the tank if they escalate.
- The bottom of the water heater tank can develop a leak inside the insulation. This may not be visible and the internal leak will cause water to escape from the bottom portion of the tank. This is caused by corrosion and deterioration due to age. If this is the cause of the leak, you may have to change the water heater.
If you can’t detect the leak or need advice on whether to change the water heater, it is better to call a plumber. A professional plumber will be able to deduce the source of the leak better or guide you on what to do with an old water heater.
Switch off the Power
If the water heater is indeed leaking, the next step you need to do is to switch off the main power supply to the water heater.
Electric water heaters can be cut off through the circuit breaker box. Switching off the breaker will cut the power to the water heater. Make sure to take safety precautions when you are doing this as water and electricity can be a dangerous combination.
Gas water heaters usually come with a switch to turn it on or off. You will not have to close the main gas supply line for such type of heaters. Turning the dial to ‘off’ will ensure that the water heater is indeed off. Some gas water heaters also have a gas shut-off valve, but make sure not to tinker with this as they are highly susceptible to failure.
Turn off Water Supply
Significant leaks can mean flooding and structural damage so it is better to turn off the water supply as well. This can be done by turning off the cold water shut-off valve.
This valve will most probably be situated right above the water heater as this is required by safety codes. It will either be in the shape of a handle, gate valve, or dial.
Throughout this process, make sure to stay safe. The factory setting for most water heaters is almost 125 degrees Fahrenheit. This can cause serious injuries if the water spills out onto your skin.
If you think you won’t be able to reach the shut-off valve safely it is better to close the main water supply of the house while you wait for a professional to come. This will slow down the leak or completely stop the water waste.
This step is crucial if you don’t want to have high water bills.
Call a Professional
Water heaters are complex appliances and it is better to not attempt any repairs yourself. You may end up doing more damage to the water heater, which can result in higher costs than before. You may also not have the correct equipment to use on the water heater.
However, the biggest issue is your safety. Water heaters can be very dangerous and it is better to not take risks with extremely hot water. If your water heater is electric, the danger factor is higher since the combination of electricity with water is a lethal one.
So, call a professional plumber so they can inspect the water heater completely and use the correct method to solve the issue easily.