What to Do When Your Water Heater Springs a Leak

A photo of a water heater leak

What to Do When Your Water Heater Springs a Leak

It's frustrating when you discover a leak coming from your water heater, especially since we depend on our water heaters for showering, drinking, washing, and more. You may wonder what caused the leak, if it's dangerous, and what you should do to address it.

As soon as you can inspect your water heater and determine where the leak seems to be coming from, turn off the water supply to the hot water tank and call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Cincinnati for emergency repairs. While you're waiting for help to arrive, you can read more below about what might be the issue.

Why Is My Water Heater Leaking?

There are several potential causes for a leaking water heater. Some common reasons include corroded pipes or valves, a faulty temperature/pressure relief valve, a damaged inlet/outlet pipe connection, or high pressure inside the tank. The location of the leak narrows down the possible causes.

Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom

If your water heater leaks from the bottom, it's likely due to a defective drain valve or a cracked tank. Turn off the water supply to the heater and call a plumber to inspect the tank and replace the valve if necessary. This is also the case if you notice your water heater leaking from the drain valve itself.

Water Heater Leaking from the Top

A leak from the top of your water heater can be caused by a faulty temperature/pressure relief valve. This valve is designed to open when the water pressure or temperature inside the tank gets too high, allowing the excess water to escape. If the valve is faulty, it can cause a constant leak. To fix this issue, you'll need to have the valve inspected and replaced by a professional.

Other causes include loose or corroded fittings, which you can tighten or replace. Inspect the water inlet and outlet for signs of rust or corrosion. Water pooling on top may mean your inlet or outlet valves leak above your tank. If tightening the fixtures doesn’t work, you’ll need a professional to replace the fittings.

An electric water heater can also leak where the heating elements enter the tank if the gasket preventing leaks goes bad. To check the gasket, turn off the power to the heater. You can replace faulty gaskets yourself or get help from a pro.

Water Heater Leaking from the Relief Valve

The temperature/pressure relief valve is a vital safety feature of your water heater. If it's leaking, it's important to replace it as soon as you can get a new water heater. Otherwise, you risk the tank over-pressurizing and bursting, which can lead to serious flooding and damage. Homeowners experienced with DIY plumbing may be tempted to replace their own hot water heater, but for your safety and convenience, we recommend calling in the pros.

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Is a Leaking Water Heater Dangerous?

Yes, a hot water heater leaking can be dangerous. Depending on the severity of the leak, you can be at risk for flooding, electrical shock, fire, and even carbon monoxide poisoning (if your unit is a gas water heater). It's essential to address the problem as soon as possible.

If you don’t catch the leak before significant water damage occurs, STOP Restoration can help clean up and assess the damage.

What to Do if Your Water Heater Is Leaking

If you find a leak in your water heater, turn off the electricity and water supply to the hot water heater. You should also call an experienced plumber to diagnose the problem and recommend a solution – the pros at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Cincinnati can get things back to normal, fast. Book an appointment online or call us now at (513) 813-4992.