Water Heater Sprung a Leak? 5 Things You Need to Do Right Away!

When you’ve got a leaking water heater, there’s a lot more at stake than just your comfort. Even minor leaks soon turn into massive headaches if they’re neglected, damaging the walls and floors around them. Sometimes, they can get bad enough to cause flooding, too.

You should call an HVAC professional for an inspection when you find a leak. Otherwise, you could end up with heavy repair costs, both for the heater and your home.

Here’s a 5-step guide to what to do when your water heater is leaking:

1. Confirm the Source of the Leak – The heater is not always to blame for puddles near its base. These could also be the result of condensation from the heater’s pipes, exterior body, your home’s plumbing, and other appliances (like furnaces).
Check overhead pipes and nearby appliances for drips or leaks, mop up the pooled water and wait to see if it collects again. If there’s an obvious leak from the heater tank or fittings, or puddles keep forming after you clean them up, move on to the next step.

2. Disconnect the Power Supply – As long as the heater’s getting power, it keeps heating and you face risk of serious burns. At temperatures ranging anywhere from 125° F to 190° F, even indirect contact with the heated water is extremely dangerous!

  • With electric water heaters, there’s a risk of electrocution too, so find the circuit breaker for the heater and switch it off.
  • For gas water heaters, ensure the dial or switch is set to the “off” position, and only close the gas shut-off valve if you’re familiar with the system.

3. Disconnect the Water Supply – If you haven’t located the exact source of the leak, and it’s not a heavy one, leave the water supply on to help you find it.

For serious leaks, turn off the cold-water supply from the shut-off valve (only if you can reach it safely). This is a handle or dial located above the heater, which you either pull down or turn clockwise. If you can’t reach the valve without touching the leak, turn off the main water supply valve for the house instead.

4. Locate and Diagnose the Leak– Before calling a repair company, try to find the exact location of the leak to help speed things up.

  • Check the cold-water inlet and hot water outlet, and their connections to the unit. Simply tightening the connections could fix a leak here.
  • Check the temperature and pressure relief valve, and its point of entry. If there’s water flowing through the pipe when the valve is closed, it may need repair.
  • Check if the heater’s drain valve is closed, and whether it closes completely or not. Also check if the point where it enters the unit is watertight.
  • Check the base of the tank, since leaks are often caused by old or damaged tanks. If there’s water coming out of the bottom, there may be an internal leak.

5. Hire a Professional for Repairs –If the leak is caused by a damaged storage tank, you will need to replace the unit entirely, since cracks in the tank’s glass lining cannot be repaired. Remember, leaks can get worse with improper handling, so always call a trained technician for repair or removal.

At Service Champions, we’re here to help with all your water heater maintenance and repair needs. If you’re facing a heater emergency, give us a call right away. We work 7 days a week – you don’t have to wait for a Monday!

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