What to Do If Your Water Heater Is Leaking: Safety Tips

For a broken water heater or other plumbing issues in San Diego, call Core Plumbing at (858) 293-4102. Water heaters are typically tucked away in the quietest corners of your home in spots you rarely ever see or even think about on an average day. But when they’re not working the way they should, those forgotten fixtures of your home can quickly jump to the forefront of your mind. One of the most common issues you will face with your water heater is leakage. A water heater leaking can be an inconvenience for just about any homeowner and can lead to more substantial problems than just annoyance. An untreated leak from your water heater can cause mold and even excessive water damage to your walls and floor.  That is why if you notice problems with your water heater, such as a dip in water temperature or any unusual noises coming from the heater, it is vital to make sure that there are no visible issues. If you do notice your water heater leaking, there is no need to panic. With just a few simple steps, you can handle the leak yourself and prevent further damage from affecting your home.

What Causes a Leaking Water Heater?

Before looking at how to tend to a leak from your water heater tank, it is crucial to know the leading causes of a water heater leak to prevent the issue from happening again in the future. Unfortunately, there is no sole cause of a malfunctioning water heater. However, there are a few repeating issues water heaters face that you can look out for if you notice yours acting up.
  • Old age: While water heaters tend to be sturdy, reliable plumbing fixtures, the passage of time can cause them to lose some of their effectiveness. A high-quality water heater can typically last close to a decade without any significant issues. But if the water heater tank goes too long without maintenance, the heater can begin to rust, lose its ability to control water temperature efficiently, and even cause leaks.
  • Excessive pressure: Your water heater handles pressure every day from hot and frequently flowing water, but too much of that pressure can overwhelm the machine and cause it to break down. Excessive pressure built up from using too much hot water for too long can cause leaks. Frequent hot water usage can also determine how often to flush your water heater.
  • Drain valve issues: Your water heater’s drain valve serves to drain the tank of any mineral deposits formed in the water. As such, you can expect the drain valve to drip every once in a while. However, if the drain valve is expelling water frequently, it could mean there is a problem with the valve itself. Sometimes, drain valves become loose and require nothing more than a simple retightening. Other times, a leaking drain valve could signify that the part is broken and needs repairs or replacement. 

How to Stop a Water Heater from Leaking

If you have found a leak coming from your water heater, it is crucial to take preventative action immediately. Even if you cannot repair your water heater yourself, there are things that you can do to stop the leak from continuing and causing more damage.

Turn Off the Power

After identifying where the leak is coming from, the next step is to prevent more water from entering the tank. Most water heaters come with a dedicated shutoff valve that you need to flip to keep water out. If your water heater does not have a shutoff valve or the valve is broken, you will need to locate your home’s main water shutoff valve and stop the flow of water from there. After this, you will need to shut off the water heater’s power. For electric water heaters, simply turn off the power from the circuit breaker box. For gas water heaters, locate the gas shutoff valve and shut the power off from there.

Drain the Tank

A professional plumber can handle this step if you choose to hire one. But if your water heater leak is causing unavoidable problems, this is something that you can do yourself before the plumber arrives. To properly drain the water tank, you will first need to locate the drain valve. You will be removing the drain valve and allowing the water from the tank to empty, so be sure to connect a garden hose to the valve or be ready with a large bucket to catch the water and prevent your home from flooding. Once you are ready, open the pressure relief valve located at the top of your water tank, and the water will begin to drain. If you have connected a hose to the drain valve, allow the water to drain in a safe location like a kitchen sink, as letting the water from your tank drain into your yard can stain the grass.

Assess the Situation

With the power now off and the water heater emptied, you will be safe to inspect the problem thoroughly. While looking for the cause of the leak, be sure to check that the pressure gauge is below 80 PSI, that all of the proper pipes are tightly connected, and that there are no visible cracks in the tank

Hiring a Professional

Plumbing problems can be stressful for any homeowner. At Core Plumbing in San Diego, our mission is to take that stress out of your hands and get you living your everyday life without any added hassle in no time.  If you have noticed an issue with your water heater leaking and aren’t sure how to fix the problem long-term, water heater repair by Core Plumbing is the service for you. With our emergency plumbing assistance available 24 hours a day, our skilled technicians will be ready around the clock to help you get your water heater working once again.  Visit our website or call (858) 293-4102 to book an appointment with Core Plumbing today.