Your water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home. Not only does it provide hot water for showers and tubs, but it also supplies hot water to all of the faucets in your home, improving your comfort especially during cold months.
When a leak happens, you may find that you smell a damp odor around your house or that your water bill suddenly rises. Before calling about a leaking water heater, there are a few helpful things you can try!
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Shut Off All Power
Before you can repair your heater and check if your hot water tank is leaking, you need to shut off all of the power to keep yourself safe.
Start with the power supply. Most hot water heaters run on gas, so you should look for a power switch which should be close to the spot where the gas line enters the heater. Simply turn this switch to the off position. For electric water heaters, head to your circuit box. Find the circuit that provides power to the appliance and turn off the circuit.
You also need to turn off the heater's water supply. The top of the appliance should have two pipes that supply it with hot and cold water. On top or near the top of the cold water pipe is a shutoff valve. You just need to turn this valve to the off position to shut off all water and start your water heater repair.
Look for the Source of the Leak
Once you shut off the water and power to the heater, you can start looking for the source of the leak.
- You may find that the fittings are loose and allow water to leak out. A common sign of this type of leak is that there are small pools of water near the appliance.
- Most water heaters are close to a drain that keeps water from pooling on the floor. You should always check this valve for any signs of standing water.
- Water heaters can also have leaks near the temperature and pressure relief valve. Also known as a TPR valve, it will have a copper tube. This tube has an open area on the bottom that sits close to the floor and a flat top that sits flush with the water heater.
It’s important to know exactly what is causing the leak in the first place, so that you can go ahead and fix it instead of wasting parts and time on something that could be causing the problem but isn’t.
Trying DIY Repairs
Whether you have a water heater leaking from bottom or top, you can attempt some DIY repairs if you know the source of the leak.
There are two things to try if you have loose fittings.
- The first is a tool that allows you to tighten the fittings. You need to use caution as applying too much pressure can break the fittings.
- It's also helpful to try flex pipes. Flex pipes are flexible and easy to install. You need to make sure you shut off the water before removing the old pipes and adding the flex pipes. If you have copper pipes, do not attempt to use flex pipes on your own. Only a plumber can effectively seal the pipes to keep your family safe.
TPR valve leaks are often a result of pressure within the supply lines but can also occur due to hot water in the tank.
- Try opening the valve to release the pressure first. This should only take a few minutes and might fix your problem.
- If that does not work, adjust the temperature of your water. Many water heaters come set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause a lot of issues and is too hot for most homes. A temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit is still comfortable and can make your water heater last longer.
You should also check the pressure of your supply lines to make sure you have a psi of around 80. There are testing kits that are affordable and show you how to adjust the pressure.
You may want to consider adding a new drain valve. A simple garden hose helps you flush the drain and clear it out before you remove the drain. As long as you have a screwdriver, you can easily remove the old drain and install a new one.
Call a Plumber
Though many people assume that they can fix their plumbing problems at home, don't hesitate to call a plumber for help. They can handle emergency calls such as a hot water heater leaking issue that you find in the middle of the night or on a holiday weekend. They know where to find the shutoff valves and have all the tools needed to handle your leak.
Plumbers also carry insurance that covers any damage they might do. For a leak in your hot water heater, you can try a few DIY solutions once you locate the leak before you consult a plumber.
Contact a local pro and request a free quote for hot water heater repair and schedule the best day for you!