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What to Do When Your Water Heater is Leaking

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Water heater problems are often overlooked as the equipment is kept out of sight. You may only notice that there was a problem building up once your water quality declines or you hear certain noises. Unfortunately, this often means that the damage may have escalated beyond repair. 

Some common signs you may have a water leakage problem from your water heater include:

  • Unusual changes to the water temperature in your taps and shower
  • Rust particles in the water
  • Signs of rust on the water heater
  • Puddles of water around the water heater

It is essential to inspect the area your water heater is located regularly to catch problems while they are still minor. Thankfully, most minor leakage problems can be easily fixed. Let us look at some of the likely reasons your water heater could be leaking and how they can be fixed. 

Types of Leaks

  • Inlet and outlet water lines

The inlet and outlet water lines can deteriorate with time. This normal wear and tear can be unavoidable but easily fixed by replacing them when they leak. Be sure also to check that their connections have not come loose. This is another common problem that is easily fixed by simply tightening connections. 

  • Anode rod

This is found at the top of the water heater. It attracts sediments and other corrosive materials, so they do not damage your water heater’s tank. It is a sacrificial component designed to rust, so it requires replacement every few years. If heavily corroded, it can break and lead to leaks at the top of the tank. Making a replacement will quickly fix this. 

  • Drain valve

Damage to the drain valve may make it seem like you have a water leak from the bottom of the tank. Carefully inspect the tank, and if you realize the valve is the problem, you can quickly fix this by replacing the damaged valve. 

  • Temperature and pressure relief valve

The temperature and pressure relief valves can become damaged if they deal with excess pressure. Their role is to monitor and regulate temperature and pressure, but they can be damaged if limits are exceeded. They can then begin to malfunction and cause water to leak from the sides of the water tank. Sometimes just adjusting the pressure can fix the problem, but the valve will need to be replaced if broken. Always have a professional make this replacement to avoid worsening the situation.

  • Corrosion

When you have leakage from the bottom of the tank that is unrelated to a valve or outlet, chances are corrosion has occurred, creating cracks or holes at the bottom of the tank. This can also happen due to extreme pressure inside the tank or sediment buildup. Once the tank has been damaged in this way, it cannot be repaired. You must replace the water heater to avoid further leakage problems or the tank bursting. 

Should I install an expansion tank?

Expansion tanks are a preventative measure, not a cure for water leaks. They take on water volume when the water heater has heated the water, and thermal expansion occurs. Taking on this load reduces the tank’s expansion and contraction when heating water, thus reducing pressure and prolonging the heater’s life. They are a good investment when you have a closed plumbing system. However, if your water heater is already damaged, do not use this as a remedy, as it does not reverse the corrosion. Instead, consider adding it on when replacing your water heater. 

Why choose replacement over repair

All equipment has a lifespan. Water heaters are no different and, with time, will gradually decline. Corrosion is the most common reason the tank eventually becomes so damaged it needs replacement. If you allow leaks from the bottom of the tank to persist, the damage will become more severe, and more leakage will occur. The tank will also become less able to cope with the pressure and could burst. This can lead to severe damage to the property that will necessitate more money not just to replace the water heater but also to make other repairs.