A leak in your faucet or under the sink can be quite annoying, but rather simple to diagnose. A leak from the water heater, however—a large system with components you may not be familiar with—may seem downright dangerous. That’s why it’s so important to shut off the water to the water heater and turn off its power supply before doing any work or diagnoses on a leaking water heater.
Once you’ve done this, the most important thing is to determine where, exactly, the leak is coming from. This will help you to find out how serious the problem is and whether anything will need replacement. Your best bet is working with trained plumbers, but we’re here to help with an overview of what to look for in a leaky system. Where is that leak coming from?
The Inlet and Outlet Pipes
Look first around the areas where cold water enters the water heater and where warm water leaves it. The cold-water inlet and hot-water outlet pipes are simple connections to the water heater, and connections can break.
If there is a leak around these pipes may only be minor. In this case, it may only need tightening with a wrench, although it’s possible that part of the pipe will need replacement.
The Temperature-and-Pressure Valve
The temperature-and-pressure relief valve (the T&P valve) is at the side of the tank with a relief pipe that leads all the way down the floor. The purpose of this valve is to allow water to spill out when pressure levels in the tank are too high, preventing a dangerous situation.
When water is coming from the T&P pipe outlet, there may be a pressure problem within your tank. Alternatively, it’s possible the valve is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced, particularly if you notice that water is leaking from around the valve itself.
The Drain Valve
Every water heater needs a drain valve to allow you to drain the tank of any mineral content that could threaten the wellbeing of the tank lining or create a pressure imbalance. The drain valve opens and closes for easy use, so make sure it’s completely shut if you notice a leak from here. Otherwise, this leak is likely easily fixed, as replacing a drain valve or tightening its connection is rarely costly.
Finally, we get to the bad news. When a leak is coming straight from the tank material itself, that likely means the tank has started to corrode. One corrosion begins, there’s no way to stop this chemical process from taking over the entire tank, and you will need to replace it.
Some good news: this isn’t always the case. We’ve seen instances in which people thought the tank might be leaking, only to find out that condensation was dripping from it thanks to some temperature imbalances. The point is, you’ll have to call in a qualified plumber to be sure.
To determine the point of your water heater leak, contact the pros at Admiral Plumbing Services, LLC. We service and install water heaters in West Palm Beach.