November 30, 2017 Help! My Hot Water Heater is Leaking Your water heater is leaking! Your first instinct might be to panic but don’t. With a little help, you can diagnose whether you have a major problem or something that’s a quick fix. If it seems like a lot of water is pouring out of your water heater, you should contact a heating professional as soon as possible. The first thing you want to do when inspecting your water heater is to determine where the leak is originating from. The source of the leak will give you an indicator as to how major or minor your problem is. Regardless of where the leak is, any leak left unfixed can do damage to your floors, walls, and personal belongings. Act fast when dealing with a water heater leak. Before inspecting your water heater unit, make sure that the unit is completely turned off. If you have a gas or oil unit; this includes the cold water line into the tank, the gas or oil fuel source, and the electric that may be run into the unit. If you have an electric unit, this includes the cold water line into the tank and the dedicated electrical breaker in your service panel. Always remember that when dealing with any heating equipment, that it’s important to proceed with caution when inspecting, fixing, or replacing any malfunctioning pieces. If you do not feel comfortable with inspecting your water heater, contact a local heating professional immediately to avoid further damage or injury. Let’s not waste any more time, the following are key areas to inspect when your hot water heater is leaking: The Water Lines (Top) This is by far the best-case scenario for a water heater leak. If caught in a timely matter, the issue can be repaired without any further damage to the water heater or surrounding areas of your home. These are usually located at the top of your water heater. The cold water line supplies incoming water to your heater and the hot water line than supplies it to your home. These water lines can be made of many different materials – copper, PVC, or PEX type tubing to mention a few. If you notice that a water line is leaking where it is attached to the unit, the problem may be quickly fixed by simply tightening that connection. If you notice that the shut-off valve on one of the water lines is leaking, the problem may be quickly fixed by simply tightening the packing nut below the handle. If either of these doesn’t solve the problem then you may need to repair or replace the valve and/or some of the piping. This is usually a quick fix and not a major cause for concern. The Bottom The severity of this leak will vary depending upon its location at the bottom of your water heater. If your leak is originating from the drain valve (a metal or plastic spigot attached to the bottom of your heater’s tank), this can indicate that you have a faulty valve that needs to be replaced. This is usually inexpensive and most heating professionals can repair this relatively easily. However, if your leak is originating from the tank itself, this could require a complete replacement of your water heater. Contact your local heating professional, they can provide you with a definitive answer and assist with any replacement you may need. The Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve This can be found in several places, most commonly it can be found along the side of your hot water heater attached to a long pipe. This valve allows for the release of extreme heat and pressure as a safety measure. When this happens, water begins to leak out of the valve and/or pipe. On an older unit, this valve may leak due to age and mineral build up due to your water conditions. This may also be a sign of a change in the incoming water pressure that supplies your home. If you are not sure of why it is leaking or just not comfortable in doing so, contact a local heating professional as soon as possible as this is a safety device designed to protect you and your family. If you are still unable to locate the source of your leak or if you have a leak originating from a different area of your water heater, it may require attention from a local heating professional. They can tell you whether your water heater can be repaired or will require replacement.