When you find a puddle of water beneath your hot water heater, it may be the beginning of a series of troubles. If you ignore it, soon it may cause serious damage to your floor. Water seeping along the walls is even more troublesome. Soon the room may smell of dampness. You can expect tell-tale patches on your floor and walls. This indicates the presence of mold and mildew.
Before you know it, your family may be suffering from various lung problems like asthma and bronchitis because the spores of the mold and mildew cause allergies. In short, it is no mean matter, if you notice pools of water underneath your water heater.
The leakage of water heater may not be serious if it proves to be the condensate. Still it has to be dealt with. There are a number of serious and mild issues with the water heater which cause leakage. The first step, obviously, is to spot the point of leakage.
There are three main regions from which the seepage occurs. It may be from the top of the water heater, bottom of the water heater or from the tank itself. A meticulous examination will reveal the source. Make sure that you have shut off the power in the case of electrical hot water heater and the gas inlet in the case of the gas hot water heater before setting on to the examination of the water heater.
Leakage from the top of the water heater
The leakage from the top of the water heater has another serious danger among others. The water will flow through the side of the tank and fall into electrical connection portals. This will cause a short circuit. So it has to be dealt with on an emergency basis. The source of the leak may be varied.
Leakage from the cold water inlet
All the same, leakage from the top is the least complicated issue. Most probably it is the inlet pipe joint that is a bit loose.
Keep the gate valve on and dry the joint to see if there is any water seeping through it. If there is, turn off the gate valve and disconnect the joint. Dry the pipe and wind a bit of Teflon tape on it. Now refit the pipe tightly. Turn on the gate valve and hold a paper towel to see if it gets damp. If not, you have repaired the problem.
Leakage from the T&P valve
In some models the temperature and pressure valve may be on the top of the water heater. It is worthwhile to check this component for leakage. This is a safety valve that is used to release water in case of increased temperature or pressure inside the tank. This valve may become faulty with age. In that case it has to be replaced.
You will have to drain the tank before unscrewing the valve. The tank should be aerated by opening a nearby hot water tap. Then unscrew the valve. Make sure that the hole that holds the valve is not corroded. If it is, the leakage may be from the corroded hole. It is time for you to replace the water heater itself.
On the other hand if the leakage is from the valve you can replace the valve by screwing on the new one.
If your plumber is not a professional, the entire pipe connections can cause problem because of inadequate tightening of joints. Check all the joints on top of the water heater with the inlet valve open and when you have discovered the point, close the inlet and tighten the joints sufficiently. That will deal with the leak.
Leakage from the bottom of the water heater
Leakage from the T&P valve
In most of the water heaters the temperature and pressure valve is at the side of the heater, nearer to the bottom of the tank. A faulty valve may bring out water dripping from it. If the valve is not properly tightened, again the result is leakage.
First of all try tightening the valve joint. If the dripping stops, then you have diagnosed the problem right and remedied it. Alternatively, if the problem persists it means that you need to replace your T&P valve.
Leak from the drain valve
This is a valve that is fixed at the bottom of the water heater in order to facilitate draining the tank. Your water heater tank needs to be drained once in a while so that no mineral sediment accumulates at its bottom. Accumulation of such sediments is injurious to the water heater tank.
If the valve proves to be faulty you need to replace it. But if the valve is intact and the leakage continues, it is because of a loose fitting. Just tighten the valve joint and the problem disappears.
Loose pipe fitting or corroded pipesleakage-from-tank-condensation
If both the T&P valve and the drainage valve are intact and the leakage problem stays, check the pipe fittings for a loose joint and tighten it. It will take care of the problem.
If the joints are corroded you will have to replace them. Corrosion in the pipe joints happen when your ground water is acidic in nature.
Leakage from the tank
This is perhaps the most serious problem. And it will cost you dearly because you will have to replace the tank.
The problem occurs mostly because of the rot that crop up because of sediment build up inside the tank. You need to drain the tank occasionally to prevent this.
Water condenses on the tank when it is filled with cold water. This condensate slowly descends along the sides of the tank and drips to the ground. This is a temporary problem which will soon disappear.
Some time the condensation drips through the vent of a gas water heater. This means you will have to shut off the water heater and clean the vent pipe.
Rain water seeping in through the vent outlet
If the vent of a gas water heater is let out through the roof and the seating of the vent through the roof is not properly sealed, water may enter through it during rainy season. You only need to make sure that the hole is adequately sealed.
The leakage problem in the case of a water heater can be prevented to a great extent if you take the water heater maintenance seriously. It should be examined periodically. It should be flushed yearly and your anode rod needs to be changed at least every three years. Timely repairs will prolong the life of your best water heater.