Is Your Water Heater Leaking from Bottom? What Do You Do?
Normally, water heaters are built to last for years. However, one common issue these home appliances usually have to go through is leakage. Is your water heater leaking from the bottom? If yes, you don’t need to panic! A water heater leaking from the bottom necessarily does not indicate tank failure and does not require replacing.
But, it is obvious that you will want to fix the leaks as soon as possible. Even a small amount of leakage can cause huge damage if not fixed on time. So, it is important to assess the situation as soon as you find a pool of water under your heater.
As soon as you find out that your water tank is leaking, the first thing you should do is wipe the water in the tank and inspect the area of leakage.
If you’ve discovered the location where the leak is actually coming from, what should you do next?
There are various reasons that could cause the water heater to leak. Some leaks are easily fixable, and costs next to nothing, and others may require replacement.
In this article, we will help you identify the issues and provide several instructions on how to troubleshoot and resolve the leak in your water heater.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Why Water Heaters Leak
Several reasons can cause a water heater to leak prematurely. One of the most common reasons is improper installation. If the drain valve of your water heater is installed loosely, it will eventually begin to leak. However, this problem is easily fixable. All you have to do is tighten the valve whenever you notice the leak.
Another major reason for a water heater to leak can be high pressure in the tank. It can be caused by several factors and can be severely dangerous to the system. The most common reason is due to high incoming pressure and bad pressure relief valves. As these issues can be potentially dangerous and complicated to deal with, it is better to hire a plumber to address them.
Generally, the lifespan of water heaters ranges from 10 to 13 years. So, sometimes the leakage might be caused simply due to the old age of the water heater. As the unit grows older, it will rust and wear out due to the years of sediments built up at the bottom of the tank. If this is the case with your water heater, repairing the leaks is not an option. In this case, the only rational solution would be to replace the entire water tank.
How to Fix a Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom
Step 1: Find the Leak
Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (T&P Valve)
The temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve) is engineered to release pressure when the water temperature increases, or when there’s too much pressure inside the tank. If you notice a pool of water at the bottom of your tank, the first place you should check is the bottom of the discharge tube. If you find a leak in the tube, the problem most probably is the T&P valve.
In this case, either your T&P valve might be at fault or there might be too much pressure in the tank. If this is the cause for leakage, you either need to hire a plumber to deal with the tank pressure, or you might require to replace the valve.
As the temperature and pressure relief valve is a safety device of your water heater, you should consider fixing the problem as soon as possible.
Every water heater is equipped with a drain valve, which is usually located at the bottom of the tank. This valve helps to drain water from the tank for optimum performance and durability of the tank.
The tank must be drained regularly to get rid of minerals and sediment that is collected at the bottom of the tank. If the tank is not drained, it will eventually add pressure inside the tank and may damage it.
There are possibly two reasons that can cause leakage at the drain valve.
Faulty Drain Valve
If you notice the leakage from the nozzle, it may be because the drain valve of the unit is not closed completely. In some cases, certain particles will hit the handle of the valve, causing a small leak. Before you jump into the conclusion that your valve is at fault, it is advised to try tightening the knot of the handle.
If this does not seem to fix the issue and the nozzle continues to drip, the only solution to this problem might be replacing the drain valve.
However, you can fix a brass hose cap on the end of the drain valve to stop the leak temporarily. This will help you buy some time until you replace the valve with a new one.
Also, it is a good idea to invest in a water sensor alarm that will alert you in case of any leakage in the future.
Leaky Drain Valve
If you notice the base of the valve seeping with water, this might indicate that your valve isn’t tight enough. In this case, you need to replace the valve before it’s too late, as the leak might only get worse with time. You can also replace the valve by yourself if you have the DIY experience, but we recommend you to hire a plumber to fix it.
Most of the time, the leak occurs from the inside of the tank itself. The major cause of this problem might be the sediment build-up within the tank. When the sediment does not drain out of the tank regularly, it causes the steel tank to rust and cracks eventually.
A leaking tank will almost always mean that you need to replace the entire water heater. However, it is always better to hire a professional plumber to investigate the issue before investing in a new tank. If that does not solve the issue, the only way to solve the issue might be to replace it.
Step 2: Prevent Further Damage
Once you’ve located the leak in your water tank, the next step you need to follow is to cut the power supply to the water heater and prevent further damage. To do this properly, always refer to the emergency shutdown procedure sticker of your water heater. If you do not find the shutdown procedure sticker in your water heater, follow these steps:
Turn Off the Power
- Gas Water Heater – If you are using a gas water heater, you first need to locate the on/off dial. The on/off dial is usually located on the side of the unit near the bottom. Once you find the dial, turn the button to the OFF position.
- Electric Water Heater – If you’re using an electric water heating system, turn OFF the breaker located at the main electrical panel. As most units use a 240-volt circuit breaker, no other appliances will be affected as they will not use the same breaker.
Turn Off the Water Supply
- First, locate the dial or lever on the water supply inlet. The supply inlet is usually located at the top of the system, where the water enters the tank.
- To turn off the supply of water in the system, simply turn the lever to the ‘closed’ position or turn the dial clockwise.
Step 3: Decide What to Do Next
Since you have located the leak, you may choose to do the most favorable thing to fix the damage. The most sensible thing to do would be to hire a plumber to repair the system.
Remember, if your water tank is leaking because of the faulty T&P valve or the drain valve, it is highly likely that you will be able to repair the water heater. However, if the leak is originating from the internal tank, you will most likely have to replace the entire water heater.
Fixing Your Water Heater Yourself
If you notice a leak in your water heater, we recommend you consult a professional plumber almost every time. However, if you think the unit is fixable and intend to do it on your own, here are the necessary steps you need to follow:
- If you have an electric water heater, make sure to shut down the water supply as well as electrical power. And, shut off the gas supply if you use a gas water heater.
- Open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank, and drain the water out of the heater. It is handy to attach a garden hose to the drain valve to avoid a big mess.
- Once the tank is empty, disconnect the water line, gas line, and flue pipe for a gas heater or the waterline and power wires for an electric heater. As the water heater might still be heavy, it is advisable to use a dolly to remove the unit from your home.
- Once the water heater is out of your house, clean up the area and prepare it for the new heater. Once the area is ready, set the new heater in place and reconnect the water lines, flue pipe, and gas supply or electric supply to the unit.
- Finally, turn the gas or electric power on, and refill the water tank. For a gas heating system, you should also remember to turn the pilot light on. Make sure that the temperature in the thermostat is set according to your requirements. However, the common setting is 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- At this point, your new water heating system should be ready to start working.
Replacing a Water Heater Valve
Your water heater might also be leaking from the pressure relief valve. It can be caused by either a high-pressure situation or a faulty valve on the water heater. If the water heater leaking because of a faulty valve, it can be replaced following these steps:
- First, turn off the water heater and the water supply and drain the water out of the tank.
- Discharge any remaining pressure by lifting the lever on the pressure valve.
- Unscrew the pressure valve using a wrench and replace it with a new one.
- Before you screw the new valve into the unit, use Teflon tape on its threads.
- Done! It should now be safe to turn the water heater back on and refill the tank.
Sometimes, loosening of the valve might also cause the leak. In this case, you can repair the pressure valve by tightening the loose valve on the heater and the connected pipes.
There are several reasons why you might be facing the issues of leakage in your water heater. Most of the problems related to water heater leakage are easily fixable and sometimes can be fixed by yourself. However, if the problem seems slightly more complicated, you should hire a professional plumber to fix it. If the water heater is not fixable, the only way to resolve the issue is by replacing the entire water heater.
Table of Contents
- Why Water Heaters Leak
- How to Fix a Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom
- Fixing Your Water Heater Yourself
- Replacing a Water Heater Valve