If you see that your water heater is leaking from the bottom, you may think it is just "sweating" and condensation and ignore it, but that's not a wise thing to do. Even a small leak is an indication there is a problem somewhere, and a small leak could quickly turn into a huge and expensive problem if it starts ruining your subflooring. You may even find yourself with a flood on your hands, which would be expensive and ruin your personal property as well as your home. Additionally, leaking water can spawn a mold and mildew issue, which can be toxic to your health. Here's what you need to know about a leaking water heater.
Determine Where The Leak Is Coming From
A puddle of water near the water heater doesn't necessarily mean it is come from the tank itself. It could be a nearby or overhead pipe. It may also be the furnace drain line or simply water seeping into the basement during the spring thaw if you have an older home.
Mop the water up, and then closely inspect the fittings and connections to see if you can find any place it may be dripping from. If you can't locate the source, lay some paper toweling down in the same spot you first saw the water, and check other potential nearby sources. Check the paper toweling a few hours later to see if it is wet. If it is, the source is likely your water heater.
Shut Off The Water Heater
If you have an electric water heater, turn it off at the circuit breaker. If you have a gas one, find the on/off switch to turn it off. You don't need to turn off the gas valve. Next, you will want to turn off the cold water valve.
Inspect The Water Heater
First, look at the cold water inlet and the hot water outlet. These are typically on the top of the water heater. You may simply need to simply tighten a loose connection with a pipe wrench.
Next, inspect the temperature and pressure relief valve. This will be on the side of the tank, near the top. This is a safety device that removes excess pressure in the tank. If the valve is leaking, it is defective and it is best to have a professional plumber take a look. This can be a potentially dangerous leak as it means your tank's pressure likely isn't being regulated properly.
Check out the heater drain valve, which is near the bottom of the tank. This valve should be turned tight.
Your water heater has an inner baffle, so you won't be able to physically see a leak on the bottom of the tank, but if your water heater is old, it is likely time for a replacement.
Many people are fearful of do-it-yourself projects when things like the water heater and furnace are malfunctioning, so if you're not particularly handy or can't determine the exact source, give a plumber a call instead of trying to deal with it on your own. Click here to learn more.