Don't always assume your hot water heater is a goner!
It all depends where the leak is occurring and you may be able to fix the problem. Investigate the source of the leak before deciding whether to fix the problem or replace the hot water heater.
Condensation Moisture forms on the outside of the tank when most of the water inside the tank is cold. This often will happen when hot water usage in the home is especially high. The cold tank, reacting with the warmer air inside the home, causes condensation. Try to even out hot water demands in the household so that less than half the tank contains cold water at any given time.
Pipes Most water heaters connect to a cold water supply line and a hot water line. Either of these water lines can leak, particularly at the joints. If water sprays from a fitting or pipe, the problem is clear. A dripping pipe or joint is less noticeable. Tighten loose fitting joints to stop leaks. If this does not solve the leak, turn off the water supply and power supply, then disconnect the fittings. Allow the temperature on hot water lines to cool down before working on them. Wrap the threaded end of each fitting with plumber’s tape, then reconnect the joints.
Gaskets Electric hot water heaters rely on one or two heating elements to warm the water. Because the elements project into the tank, they are sealed with gaskets to prevent leakage. Water may collect under the tank if the gaskets wear or become damaged to the point of leaking. Each element is behind a cover plate, but you must turn off electrical power to the water heater before examining the elements. Move the insulation out of your way, and check all around the element gaskets for the presence of water, which indicates a drip. Drain the tank before removing and replacing elements and element gaskets.
Pressure Relief Valve Should pressure rise too high inside the tank, the relief valve opens. Steam escapes and the pressure returns to normal. Once inside the house, the steam quickly condensates and produces a puddle at the bottom of the tank. Too high an operating temperature is usually to blame for excessive tank pressure. Keep the hot water at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit to keep pressure in check and save on energy costs at the same time. If pressures build often, especially after turning down the water heater’s thermostat, a faulty pressure relief valve is the likely cause. Have a professional plumbing professional replace the valve. A faulty pressure relief valve is a potentially dangerous situation and must be addressed immediately.
Tank Once the tank itself starts to leak water, and you are certain there is no other cause for the leakage, it’s time to replace the water heater. The inside of the tank eventually corrodes from mineral deposits and from the constant strain of heating and cooling. There is no way to repair a leaking tank.
Whether amateur troubleshooting or a professional inspection found the issue, some repairs might be necessary. To many people, this prospect seems daunting or expensive. However, having a few small issues fixed now, will save you costly repairs later.
Don’t let your leaking water heater go unchecked. If you suspect your water heater might not be in the best possible shape, contact Discount Plumbers today!