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Leaking Water Heater Maintenance

leaking water heater

Leave it to the pros!

So you step into your garage or basement and realize a puddle of water pooling around the base of your water heater. If a leaking water heater is not taken care of properly, it could be a pretty big concern that can cause huge problems well beyond the scope of just plumbing. Keep in mind that most water heaters carry at least 30 gallons of water. Sometimes up to 80 or 90 gallons. If all that spills out into your garage or basement, forget your plumbing. Your house could flood out, ruining the foundation of your home, soaking up your floor and walls and spreading mold and mildew throughout the house.

Now we’re sorry if we caused you to have a panic attack, we just want you to understand the severity of this issue. Normally here at the Sunshine Plumbing of South Florida blog, we encourage readers to take their problems head on, and help them fix some of their plumbing jobs themselves. This is not one of those jobs. A leaking water heater is difficult to inspect and/or replace. There are a lot of different parts and pieces to a water heater that require troubleshooting and tweaking with, and the consequences of misdiagnosing or poorly repairing a leaking water are extremely dire.

Teaching our readers how to repair or replace a water heater is quite complex, but what we can do is teach you how to manage and mitigate the leak until you can call a plumber to come and inspect the leaking water heater. It may make the difference between a quick and easy fix or a wet and moldy disaster.

How to treat a leaking water heater

Step 1: Don’t Panic

The first step after seeing a bunch of water around your water heater is to not freak out. After all, while a leaking water heater is most likely the reason for that pool of water, there are several other reasons that water may drip to the floor that don’t directly relate to your water heater being broken. Among these reasons are loose fittings, leaking pipes coming from behind the heater, or just simple condensation. Wipe up the water around the water heater, make sure all fixtures are tightened properly, and try to see if you can spot any wet areas on the heater. Lay some dry paper towels down in the area and continue to check back every few hours for more dripping. If a few days go by and the paper towels remained relatively dry the entire time, then you shouldn’t be too worried about your water heater leaking. If the problem persists however, then it is time to take action.

Step 2: Turn off the Power

If you’ve followed step 1 but water continues to drip from your heater (or if you’ve bypassed step 1 because water is clearly spraying out of your heater) then it is time to take swift action in mitigating this leak. In order to do that you need to begin by cutting the power to the water heater. When dealing with a bunch of water, it is safest to make sure there is no power (especially electricity) coming in contact with this water. If you have a gas water heater, simply locate a dial with an on/off option, and turn it from “on” to “off”. Or if you have an electric water heater you can cut the power by going to your circuit breaker and turning the power for the water heater to “off”.

Step 3: Turn off the Water

Now that there is no more power in the tank, you want to make sure that there is no more water being filled into your leaking water heater because that will all be wasted. The valve you will be looking for is located on top of the heater on a pipe leading into the wall. Turn that valve clockwise to shut off the water. If you cannot reach the valve or if the water continues to leak after shutting off the valve, the turn off the water to your house.

Step 4: Drain the Tank

Once the water and power to your heater are turned off, you may flush your leaking water heater of all the water that’s still in it. To do this, hook up a garden hose to the spigot at the bottom of the tank and then open up the valve, releasing the water in a safe area (preferably outside).

Step 5: Call a Plumber

Congratulations, you’ve done everything within your power to prevent your leaking water heater from causing a flooding nightmare. Next step is to contact a local plumbing professional to come out and take a look for himself. If you are from the South Florida Broward area feel free to call Sunshine Plumbing of South Florida to come out and fix your leaking water heater!