A leaking hot water heater is more than just a minor irritation that can be ignored for some time.
When you spot water around your water heater and want to fix the leak, you be aware that electricity and water is a potentially dangerous combination. To ensure your personal safety, turn off the power to the water heater. To stop a major flooding of your home, you also need to shut off the water supply before carrying out the repairs.
Safety is Paramount
After finding the source of the leak, empty the water heater tank by opening the hot water tap. This will ensure that you are not accidently scalded by hot water when fixing your leaking water heater.
Water Heater Leaking Scenarios
Leaks are caused by:
1. An issue in the temperature and pressure relief valve
Place a bucket under the overflow pipe and then open the T&P valve. Flush it to clean out the debris. If water continues to leak after this, you need to replace the valve.
To replace the T&P relief valve, you need to check if it has been screwed on. It can easily be unscrewed with a wrench and replaced. If the valve is soldered on, you have to cut it off. Be sure to take care to ensure that there is enough pipe left over to fix the new valve. Note that this valve has been placed on the water heater for your safety. Importantly, it can convert your water heater into a dangerous appliance and can potentially explode.
2. Large pressures or over heating of the T&P relief valve
Sometimes excessive pressure on the T&P relief valve will keep it open almost continuously, which will make water leak. Simply reduce the temperature of the water by reducing the thermostat setting. Lowering the heat of water will mean that the T&P valve does not have to open to relieve pressure, thus fixing the leakage.
3. Plumbing connection leaks – the inlet and outlet pipes
First check the places where the inlet and outlet pipes join the water heater. The flex lines at the inlet or the drain valves at the outlet might not be joined properly, leading to water leaks from these points. You can tighten it as needed using an adjustable wrench. However, great care needs to be taken to ensure that you do not over tighten the connections.
4. Heating element leaks.
When the heating element is the cause of the leak from your water heater, it needs replacing.