Nobody likes standing in their basement, ankle-deep in cold water as they wonder “why is my water heater leaking?” Or suddenly feeling water dripping on their head from the ceiling while lounging on the couch. The last thing you want is a busted water heater causing water damage to your carpet, photos, comic books, or other valuables. That’s why we put together this guide, so you can see our top reasons for a water heater leaking – and avoid the dreaded flooded basement fiasco from a water heater burst. Read on for our most common culprits behind a leaking or busted water heater, and how to fix them.
Water Heater Rust & Sediment Buildup
Most water heaters are made of steel. Steel is mostly iron, and – you guessed it – iron rusts. Water heaters have a safeguard called an anode rod to prevent rusting, but over time your anode rod could wear down or fail, causing your water heater to leak from the top anode. If you notice that your hot tap water is a gross, rusty brown color we recommend calling a plumber about getting your water heater’s anode rod replaced.
Additionally, most homes have hard water running through their water heaters. Hard water has small amounts of minerals floating in it which, over time, can start to settle at the bottom of your water heater’s tank. This caused a layer of buildup that blocks the water from accessing the burner.
What does this mean? It means that it takes longer to heat the water, leading to overheating, general deterioration and most commonly, leaks from the bottom of your water heater. Fortunately, you can avoid this problem by making sure you drain the water and flush out any built-up sediment at least once per year. If not, you could experience some of these water tank problems below.
A Drain Valve Leak
If you notice your water heater leaking from the bottom specifically, the culprit could be a drain valve leak. If the drain valve fails, you could experience a flooded basement. Drain valves are used to drain the hot water from the tank to remove sediment, like we mentioned above. Your water heater leak could simply be because the valve is loose and you need to tighten it a bit. Be careful about over tightening though, you could break the valve and make the leak worse. Simply locate the knob or handle and ensure it’s tightened completely, but first confirm that the leak is in fact originating from the drain valve, and not somewhere else.
An Internal Tank Leak
Perhaps the most common culprit behind your water heater leaking from the bottom is an internal tank leak. This could indicate that your water tank leaking is due to internal damage to the tank itself from a structural issue. If you haven’t removed sediment from your tank in some time, it could have caused corrosion leading to a cracking of the tank shell, or a similar issue. Inspect the outside of your tank to look for signs of serious internal issues. In most cases, replacing your water heater is going to be the only solution here.
Excess air pressure builds inside your water heater’s tank when the temperature is too high or the pressure of the exterior water coming into your house is too strong. Avoid these problems by making sure to set your water heater no higher than 120-125 degrees.
Additionally, we recommend keeping an eye on your water heater’s temperature and pressure relief valve (also known as a t&p valve). It’s on the top or side of your tank and releases pressure from the heater’s tank when necessary. If you test the valve and no water comes out, or your leak is from the t&p valve itself, we recommend quickly replacing it. Tip: avoid replacing it with a plastic valve if possible, they’re cheap and bound to break again soon.
Lastly, aging could be the reason behind your water heater’s demise. Hot water heaters last approximately 8 to 10 years. During the end of their life cycle, basic leaks are more likely to happen due to general wear and tear. Corrosion, years of sediment damage, and the unavoidable damage of aging can also cause these potential leaks.
Water Heater Repair & Replacement, Los Angeles
Can you remember when you got your hot water heater? If your answer is a.) “Yes, and it was a really long time ago,” or b.) “It was so long ago that I, in fact, don’t remember…” -it’s probably time to replace your (likely busted) water heater. Contact the Mike Diamond Plumbing team for fast, reliable water heater repair and replacement services. No one likes dealing with hot water heater leaks, so let us do the hard work for you.
Water heaters aren’t the only home appliance that the team at Mike Diamond can help you take care of. If your plumbing, heating, cooling, or electrical appliances ever break down, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by waiting too long to get your water heater leak fixed. Call us today at 1-888-608-6175 or schedule a service online so you can keep your home and your family safe and secure.