A leaking hot water heater is not always easy to find. Especially if its a small
Most water heater leaks are caused by plumbing connections, parts,
or valves leaking.
If you can hear water spraying inside the tank, the tank has failed and will
need to be replaced. In this case, you should shut the power off and drain
the tank right away.
Even with the water shut off it will still leak until the water level drops
below the area where the leak is located.
Water Heater Leaking
This is the most likely area for leaks because the highest
temperatures and pressure occur here.
Their should be a water shut off valve just above your water heater on the cold water line ( see pic.).
Do not shut the water of until after you find the leak, unless of course you house is flooding.
Small water heater leaks are hard to see or hear. Dry your hand and feel
along all the water pipes above your water tank.
Sometimes a gate valve (like the one in the picture) will drip
water just below the handle. If you have this problem, tighten
the packing nut, located below the handle.
Check for water water leaking at the top of the tank where water enters and leaves the tank.
The tank itself could leak at this point or the nipple that screws into the tank may be the problem.
If you are replacing the nipple on top of the tank, use a die electric nipple as shown in the pic.
The inside of the nipple is lined with hard plastic to prevent rust.
If you have a flexible supply line leaking at the nut,tighten it one eight of a turn at a time. If these are tighten to tight, they will leak and have to be replaced.
The pressure relief valve will be located on top of, or near the top of your water heater.
These valves should be plumbed to a drain in the floor or to the outside.
If your pressure relief valve is leaking, go to this page for more help.
Leaking Hot Water Heater
at Drain Valve
The drain valve located near the bottom of the tank could have a slow leak.
Check it with your finger, to see if its wet inside.
A quick, temporary fix for a leaky drain valve is to screw a garden hose cap onto the valve.
A garden hose sprayer works well also.
Electric Hot Water
An electric water heater can leak around the elements.
In the pic. you can see water stains below the access panel.
To check the elements for leaks, shut the power off. Standing in water and touching an electric water heater can kill you.
If you are not sure which breaker controls the unit, shut off all of the breakers or the main breaker.
Remove both access panels and the plastic safety shield.
If you can't see a water heater leak, check the insulation below the element to see if it is wet.
If you have a leak around an element, and your water heater is not to old, you could try to tighten it.
If that does not work, remove the element and replace the washer.
You can find element washers at big box stores and most hardware stores.
Gas water heater leak
As you can see in the picture, this water heater has almost completely rusted out.
It was located in the corner of a basement. The homeowner had noticed the rust but had never seen water on the floor.
Gas water heaters sometimes produce condensation. Condensation
is a build up of moisture to a point where water will drip.
If you hear or see water dripping onto the burner while it is on, its
probably caused from condensation in the flue. This is normal and
most prevalent on newer water heaters.
If you have water dripping onto the burner between cycles, it would
most likely be a tank failure.
Condensation can also drip down onto the floor. If you have a
small puddle of water on the floor and can't find a water leak from
any where else, dry it up and shut your water heater down over night. If the floor is still dry the next day you will know it was caused by condensation.
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