What to Do When Your Water Heater is Leaking

Water Heater Leaks – Troubleshooting and Remedies

Repairs are a part of the homeownership game, and you usually figure out you need one when it’s the last thing you need to be dealing with. We know that game all too well and empathize with the struggle. If you have made it to this article, chances are you’re dealing with a leak from your water heater and need back up. Let’s see if we can help you troubleshoot the issue before you go running to your closest home improvement store to make a pricey purchase. 

Identify The Leaking Culprit

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you figured out that the leak wasn’t actually coming from the water heater and maybe just a nearby water source? Do yourself a favor first and thoroughly investigate where the water is coming from. Be mindful of gravity as water can travel to unexpected places and create a panic when it’s not needed. 

Leak Confirmation – Step One

When you can confirm that it is your water heater that is leaking, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn it off. Look for a shutoff valve or gauge at the point where your water comes into the house. If this is where the leak is coming from, and the valve or gauge is broken, turn off the water to your entire home. 

The Electric Water Heater – Step Two

If you’re dealing with an electric water heater, you’ll want to turn the power off to it at the breaker box. 

The Gas Water Heater – Step Two

For those of you who have a gas water heater, you’ll want to look for the gas shut-off valve. It’s recommended that you turn this off to work on the unit. 

Troubleshoot the Leak – Step Three

Here are some common leak culprits and some potential solutions:

  • Inlet and Outlet

    Examine where the water is entering and exiting the unit. The fittings for these two points can loosen and cause water to escape. Try tightening them and see if that remedies the issue. 

  • The Pressure Relief Valve

    When the pressure in your unit builds up, the pressure relief valve may release water to eliminate that pressure. The causes of this are usually when there is too much water pressure coming to the unit, or the temperature is set too high. Look at the temperature gauge and your owner’s manual to set it at the manufacturer setting. (usually about 140-degrees) The Department of Energy suggests you keep the temperature at about 120-degrees which might help your leaking issue. You can use a pressure gauge at the hose bib to see if the pressure is too high according to your user’s manual. 

  • Leaking from the Bottom

    If you have discovered a leak at the bottom of your unit, unfortunately, it is probably cracked and will likely need to be replaced. 

  • Drain Valve

    Near the bottom of your unit, there is a drain valve that should be closed completely. If it is leaking, check to see if the washer inside the valve has worn out and needs replacing. 

If you determine that your water heater is leaking after you attempt to find the issues and a short-term remedy, have a professional take a look at the unit to evaluate it. The last thing you need in your basement is a flood, and preventative measures are always a good homeownership practice.

Want an inspector to come out and take a look at your water heater?

Contact PacWest Home Inspections today!

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