Ideally your water heater will require little maintenance and will last you at least ten years. Leaking is one of a few problems your water heater may have, but some leaks are easily fixed. Leaks can be caused by a few different problems, and you may have to go searching to find the source. If you've discovered a small puddle or even moisture, here's what you need to look for.
Make Sure It's the Water Heater
If the platform or ground the water heater rests on is damp, you might think the tank itself is leaking, but this isn't always the case. Check all the connections on the pipes to and from the water heater and on the walls and ceiling nearby. Loose connections or even condensation can cause moisture to form beneath your water heater as it drips down over time.
This isn't indicative of a major problem, but it's one that should be fixed quickly if there is enough moisture to keep the ground consistently damp.
Check Your Pressure Release Valve
Every water heater has a release valve that relieves pressure on the inside of the tank if the PSI (pounds per square inch) gets too high. A drip here and there is normal, but if there is a steady stream of water, the problem is coming from consistently high pressure inside the tank.
If you see this, you should turn off the tank's water supply immediately using the switch on the pipe on top of the tank. It's often a red handle that needs to be turned 90 degrees to shut the pipe off completely. Be careful when you do this; the water coming out of the relief valve is very hot.
Call your utility company or a repairman to look at your inflow pipes and examine the water pressure in your home. Tanks with water pressure that is too high can explode, so playing it safe here is a good choice. Luckily, the fix is simple; after adjusting your water pressure if necessary, you may just need to replace the pressure release valve.
Look for Corrosions or Damaged Pipes
While tanks and pipes are meant to last a long time, water and metal still don't mix very well. Corrosion in your pipes, especially around the fittings and connections, can cause leaks to start. They may be so slight that you don't notice at first, and even then, the flow of water is so slow the pipes may only appear slightly damp.
Look for signs of dampness on the exposed pipes above your water heater. You can make this a little easier by wrapping the pipes in a paper towel and seeing if the paper towel quickly becomes damp. Also look over the outer jacket of the water heater, as water leaking from pipes above may drip down the outside of the tank.
If you do see signs of corrosion, don't attempt to just clean it off; your pipes need to be replaced to ensure they're safe.
Check the Bottom of the Tank
Take a flashlight and look underneath your tank to see if there is any water dripping from the tank's outer casing. If the bottom of the tank is wet, you could have an internal leak.
Water is stored inside a tank, which is wrapped in insulation, then finally covered with an outer jacket. If there are any cracks in the tank, the water could be leaking out into the insulated area between the tank and jacket, and gravity pulls it to the bottom of the tank where it eventually leaks out.
Unfortunately, if the inner tank is leaking, your water heater will have to be completely replaced. While expensive, minor leaks don't pose a big problem. You can prevent the problem from becoming worse by shutting off the water supply to the tank, then draining the tank completely. Consider scheduling an appointment with Ace Plumbing, Heating and Air to fix your water heater.Share
18 June 2015
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