Water heaters are essential to our everyday life. From a warm shower, to doing your dishes and washing your clothes, your water heater is probably one of the most important parts of your home and one that you probably don’t give much thought to until it stops working properly. So, when your water heater is not running efficiently you will be left with the consequences of that, which can include not only preventing you from having warm water but can also cause your utility bills to increase because you have to wait longer for your water to warm up. Water heaters can last on average anywhere from eight to twelve years depending on several factors.
What are the causes of my water heater leaking?
There are many reasons why your water heater may be leaking, some of which are small problems that you can fix, however others are larger problems a plumber needs to fix. Some problems may even be large enough that you will need to get a new water heater. Contacting a professional plumbing technician to diagnose the issue and advise you on the next steps is the best course of action.
Here are some of the most common causes for hot water heater leaks.
1. Old water tank. Hot water heaters with old tanks are more susceptible to leaks than newer units. Over time rust will build up which causes internal corrosion and can create cracks which allow water to leak out of the unit. You might be able to temporarily patch the cracks but to avoid full failure and flooding you should replace it.
2. Too much pressure. As your water temperature increases your water heater will create pressure. The hot water creates steam and fills in empty space however if it has nowhere to go the pressure becomes too much and will leak out of any cracks or loose parts.
3. Sediment build-up. Naturally water heaters collect sediment at the bottom of the tank. If the sediment stays at the bottom of the tank for extended periods of time it will deteriorate the tank until cracks form and water leaks out. This leads to needing a new water heater which is expensive, to help avoid this you should clean your tank a few times a year.
4. Drain Valve. A drain valve is used to empty the tank for maintenance checks, replacements or to empty and clean the tank. Naturally the valve loosens over time and allows water to leak through which can be fixed easily by tightening it. However, if the valve is loose at the base, it may indicate that it is not watertight, and a new drain valve is necessary. Homeowners can install a new drain valve or call a plumbing technician to do the replacement.
5. Internal tank. Water heaters have an internal shell that contains the water and an external shell that insulates the internal shell. Finally, a metal layer covers both shells, because of the additional shells a leak on the inner shell is harder to catch as they are not visible on the outside of the tank.
6. Inlet and outlet connections. Cold water comes into the tank through the inlet connection while hot water exits through the outlet connection to travel to the fixtures in your home. These connections loosen over time and cause leaks. The connections need to be tightened either by yourself or by a professional plumbing technician.
7. Anode rod. The anode rod attracts any corrosive substances, so the water heater stays safe. However, over time the rod faces corrosion and once it corrodes so much it disappears then the corrosive substances corrode the tank until cracks form, and you are left with leaks. An anode rod replacement will take care of any potential leaks.
8. Cracked or damaged storage tank. Some water heaters have an additional glass tank to increase the amount of water they hold however, they are susceptible to mineral buildup and calcification which cause cracks and leaks. Additionally, heat expands water which puts pressure on the glass and causes small cracks. To fix this you need to replace the glass tank entirely.
9. Malfunctioning temperature and pressure relief valve. The temperature and pressure relief valve, also known as the T&P valve, helps to relieve pressure on the inside of the tank. When this valve is not working properly the pressure in the tank increases. Sometimes this valve just needs to be tightened but other times it needs to be replaced. Be sure to lower the pressure in the tank before trying to fix or replace the T&P valve.
As you can see there are many causes of water heater leaks and identifying the cause can be tricky. If you’re not sure why your water heater is leaking or how to fix it, it is a good idea to call a professional plumbing company like HR Silicon Valley Plumbers.