Water pooling beneath the water heater can panic a homeowner. Loss of hot water can disrupt their routine. Replacing a broken water heater can also be an unexpected expense. Fortunately, water heaters can often be repaired or may just require maintenance. Several factors can cause a leaking water heater, and the specific cause of the leak may vary depending on the type of water heater you have (e.g., tankless, tank-style) and its age. Here are some common reasons why a hot water heater may be leaking:
1. Pressure Relief Valve (PRV) Leak: The PRV is a safety feature designed to release excess pressure from the tank. If it's leaking, it may indicate high pressure in the tank. Replacing a faulty PRV is usually necessary.
2. Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (T&P Valve) Leak: Similar to the PRV, the T&P valve releases pressure and helps control the temperature. A leak here could be due to excessive pressure or temperature. It may need replacement.
3. Tank Corrosion: Over time, the tank of a traditional tank-style water heater can corrode and develop small holes, leading to leaks. Unfortunately, there's no simple fix for this issue, and it often means you need to replace the entire water heater.
4. Inlet or Outlet Connection Leak: Leaks at the water inlet or outlet connections may be due to loose or damaged fittings. You may need to tighten or replace the connections.
5. Drain Valve Leak: The drain valve at the bottom of the tank can leak if it's loose or damaged. Tightening or replacing the valve may be necessary.
6. Condensation: In some cases, what appears to be a leak is condensation forming on the exterior of the tank, especially in humid environments. Check to ensure the leak is not due to condensation.
7. Internal Tank Leak: Water may leak from within if there's a crack or a hole inside the tank. A leak can be a serious issue that requires replacing the water heater.
8. Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve Discharge: Sometimes, the T&P valve can discharge water as a result of overheating or excessive pressure in the tank. It may not be a problem if this happens occasionally, but frequent discharges may need investigation.
A water heater is filled with gallons of water up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. An error can result in property damage and possible burns. Contacting a professional plumber to diagnose and repair the issue is the safest option.
A reputable plumbing company will provide advice and a free estimate. They can provide options for dealing with a leak. Replacing an older water heater experiencing problems may be more cost-effective than trying to fix it. Regular water heater maintenance and inspections can help identify potential issues before they become major leaks.