A water heater leak may seem like just a minor nuisance, but it can quickly turn into a big problem. Even a small amount of water will cause damage to your floors, sub-floors, and walls. Keep in mind that water heater leaking may be a symptom of a much larger problem. In extreme cases, a catastrophic and complete water heater failure can cause a significant flood that could lead to hefty repair bills and damaged personal property.
Water heater leaking can also be a health concern. Damp and wet areas can sprout mold and mildew that can cause allergic reactions and asthma in some individuals. According to the EPA, some mold spores are toxic and can lead to serious health problems.
A water heater leak does not shrink or go away with time. It only gets worse, so it’s best to move quickly to fix the problem.
Not every small puddle of water found at the base of a water heater is necessarily due to a leak. A water heater and the pipes around it, plus the other appliances typically found nearby, can form condensation, which can accumulate and drip to the floor. If a small amount of water is noticed under or near a water heater for the first time, wipe it up and try to determine its source through simple observation. Closely inspect the water heater and its plumbing fittings for obvious signs of water leakage. If none are found, inspect other nearby possible sources. Water faithfully obeys the laws of gravity, so pay particular attention to anything directly overhead, especially water pipes.
If still nothing is found, lay down some paper towels over the area that was damp and come back to check on it every few hours. If, after a day or so, the problem does not re-appear, it’s likely nothing to be concerned about. If, however, water does show up again and no other source for it can be readily identified, the water heater leaking is the likely cause.
Depending on where yours is leaking, you may or may not need a new water heater. If your heater is leaking from its T&P valve (a.k.a. Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve), you might not need a new heater. If it is leaking from the tank, then the time has come for you to get a new heater.
As stated above, water heater leaking can be a serious problem, so take action quickly. Depending on the type of leak you have, you will either have to repair your water heater, or replace it. In both cases, it is highly recommended that you call a professional plumber to deal with the problem.
Improper repairs or removal of a water heater can cause larger leaks and even floods which could lead to much more serious problems such as water damage. You will need to properly dispose of the old unit. By calling a professional plumber they will be prepared and able to take care of any issue they encounter with your water heater.
Very few people know that in order to keep your water heater running properly and efficiently very simple maintenace procedures need to be performed.
There are several easy and inexpensive ways to increase a water heater’s operating efficiency and longevity. Some things—adding insulation and setting the temperature—have to be done only once. Others, such as flushing the tank and checking the anode rod, should be done annually.
The benefits of caring for your water heater are clear. Adding insulation reduces heat loss by up to 45 percent and can shave as much as 9 percent off water-heating costs. Flushing sediment from the tank improves efficiency and longevity.