A leaking water heater is never good news, so if you’ve noticed water pooling around the base of your water heater, prepare yourself for some emergency plumbing repair. Typically, a water heater leak is an easy fix and doesn’t always mean you’ll need to replace your heater.
That being said, it is always absolutely necessary to get to the source of the issue, especially when you find your hot water heater leaking from the bottom.
Here are five possible reasons why you found your water heater leaking from the bottom and how to solve each of them.
Drain Valve is Leaking
Problem: Believe it or not, this could be good news. Drain valve leaks are typically on the less expensive side of hot water heater repairs. If the water is leaking from the drain valve, it’s a sign that the drain valve is failing in some way. The leak may be slow and unnoticeable at first, but it still needs to be repaired or it could end up flooding your basement.
Solution: Call your plumber to have them replace your faulty drain valve if you determine it is in fact the reason you have water leaking from the bottom of the water heater. In some cases, a hot water heater leaking from the drain valve could be an indication that your hot water heater itself is failing, but usually, it’s due to an issue in the drain valve. An experienced plumber will be able to repair that quickly for you.
Broken Pressure Relief Valve
Problem: Regulating the water temperature and pressure inside your hot water heater is imperative to keeping your home safe. Without this, your hot water heater could end up exploding. The pressure relief valve is designed as a safety feature on your hot water heater.
When temperatures or pressure reach or exceed a certain level, the pressure relief valve opens to release some pressure and water, allowing cold air to enter the tank and lower both the temperature and pressure inside.
Your pressure release valve can leak or break for a couple of reasons, one being that it was triggered to open due to excessive pressure or temperatures. The other reason is that it was a faulty valve to begin with.
Solution: If your pressure relief valve has opened due to excessive temperatures or pressure within your tank, then what looks like a leak is actually part of your unit’s normal working procedures. In this case, the water will drain out of the discharge pipe and everything should return to normal.
If your pressure relief valve is faulty, then that could be due to an inability to properly seal, or it could have gotten stuck in an open position. In this case, a professional plumber will need to inspect this section of your unit to identify the issue. They will probably need to replace the valve.
Inside of Tank is Leaking
Problem: If you notice water leaking from the bottom of the water heater, but you cannot identify a valve or pipe that it seems to be coming from—rather, it seems to be coming from the tank itself—then there’s some bad news. If a leak is coming from the tank itself, the most likely reason for this is that sediment has built up inside your tank and caused corrosion on the inside.
Essentially, your hot water heater is corroding from the inside out which is extremely dangerous not only for your quality of water but also for your home.
Solution: Contact a plumber immediately. Your hot water heater will need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Anode Rod is Corroded
Problem: If you find your hot water heater leaking from the bottom, check your tank’s anode rod. The anode rod is a long, thin rod that sits inside your hot water heater. It is designed to absorb any and all corrosive materials that live inside your hot water heater—essentially so these materials “eat up” the anode rod and don’t corrode your actual hot water heater tank.
If your anode rod has completely corroded, then there is nothing left to distract these corrosive materials, and they may end up going after the inside of your tank.
Solution: Any time your anode rod has been all used up, it will need to be replaced to protect the integrity of your unit. Any time you leave your hot water heater to operate without an anode rod, you risk water leaking from the bottom of the water heater or even the top. Have a professional plumber come out to replace your tank’s anode rod as quickly as possible.
Problem: If you find your hot water heater leaking from the bottom, check to be sure the moisture you’re finding is actually a leak and not condensation. Your hot water heater is capable of creating up to a half-gallon of water vapor per hour of operation due to the intense process of taking low-temperature water from piping and transferring it full of heat.
The condensation can collect on your unit, making it appear as though you have a water heater leaking from the bottom when in reality, it’s harmless condensation.
Solution: Condensation collecting on the outside of your unit is harmless to your hot water heater. It’s not actually a leak, so it doesn’t require any attention from a professional plumber. Make sure you always inspect any water collecting around your hot water heater, even if you think it is just condensation, to be sure a more serious issue isn’t present.
If what you thought was your hot water heater leaking from the bottom seam turns out to be condensation, don’t worry about it. This is normal for hot water heaters.
How to Prevent Leaks from the Bottom of Your Water Heater
It only makes sense that you would want to prevent your water heater leaking from the bottom as leaks can be dangerous and expensive. Keep in mind that the age of your unit, the quality of installation, and regular maintenance all have a huge effect on the health and working quality of your hot water heater.
Older units are more prone to leakage and while that’s something you cannot help, there are some things you do have control over: who you allow to work on your hot water heater. You can easily end up with a hot water heater leaking from the bottom if it was poorly installed. Always work with a professional when dealing with your plumbing installation and repairs.
Regular maintenance plays a big role in preventing your water heater leaking from the bottom since regular inspections and tune-ups allow you to catch a problem before it occurs. Things like faulty valves, corroding anode rods, pressure regulation, and more are all checked by a professional during regular hot water heater maintenance. The best thing you can do to keep your hot water heater leaking from bottom seams is to get it regularly serviced.
Call John C. Flood for Water Heater Repairs
If you cannot easily figure out the reason why your water heater is leaking from the bottom, you should call a professional plumbing service to get the issue repaired quickly and correctly. The skilled plumbers at John C. Flood can not only help you identify the source of your hot water heater leak, but they can also help you repair it and protect your home against additional water damages. Call today at 703-214-5611!