9 Most Common Causes of Water Heater Leaks
A leak in your water heater is something you wish to avoid. However, it’s likely that at some point, most homeowners will be faced with this problem. Leaking from a water heater can be caused by several factors, but certain problems are more common than others. Here are nine reasons water heaters tend to develop leaks. Their associated symptoms are included so that you can diagnose any potential issue before it gets out of hand in Cypress.
1. Faulty Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
The temperature and pressure relief valve (TPRV) is a safety mechanism built into all water heaters. Its purpose is to release excess pressure when the tank becomes over-pressurized or overheats. The valve can become faulty or worn over time, resulting in an unexpected drip from the drainpipe it connects to at the side of the tank.
This type of leak is typically slow but consistent and can also be accompanied by continuous dripping sounds inside the heater. With these symptoms, it’s important to have the valve checked out by a professional as soon as possible. Since this is a safety feature, tampering with it can be dangerous and should not be done without proper guidance from an experienced technician.
2. Loose Connections
Water heaters can also start to leak if the connections start to loosen due to improper installation, corrosion, or simply through age. This may occur in between the tank and its associated pipe fittings (the cold/hot water supply pipes and drain valve) as well as within the interior of the tank itself.
3. Corroded Tank
Corrosion is an inevitable part of water heater life, especially with older models that are more likely to have had the protective coating inside their tanks wear down over time. When this happens, it can cause some symptoms, including rusty-colored water, rumbling noises from within the tank, and, most obviously, leaks.
Corrosion will usually start to form around weak points where water contacts metal, such as at connections or along the sides of the tank, causing it to rust through. These leaks will often appear as a slow but steady drip from one area or multiple spots outside the unit if the corrosion has formed in several places internally.
4. Cracked Tank
If a water heater is old and has been exposed to high temperatures for an extended period, it’s possible that its tank could develop cracks or holes. These can create slow but steady leaks from multiple spots in the unit or cause an outright flood if left unchecked.
Cracks usually appear around weak points such as fittings, seams, or other parts with thin metal that may have become weakened by corrosion over time. They may also form due to the expansion of the tank caused by hot water being stored inside for long periods.
5. Leaking Drain Valve
The drain valve, located at the base of your water heater, provides an access point for maintenance and enables you to empty its tank safely. This valve can become faulty and start leaking over time, resulting in a steady stream of water from below, usually onto the floor or into a nearby drainpipe if connected.
Given the complexity of integrating plumbing and electrical connections, you should call a professional to assess drain valve-induced leaks. It’s important to diagnose any issue with this component before it can cause further damage.
6. Inadequate Insulation
The insulation on the exterior of a water heater can become worn over time, which reduces its ability to keep stored hot water in and cold air out. That can bring about condensation on the outside of the tank. As a result, small, consistent leaks develop in drops from the base or along the seams at the bottom.
Inadequate insulation is easy to identify. Touch the side of your unit, and if it feels cold, then chances are you have a problem with this component. Replacing worn insulation is relatively straightforward and should be done at the first sign of an issue. With the assistance of a professional, you can have your water heater back up and running in no time.
7. Sediment Accumulation
When hard water is heated, it can cause sediment to build up inside the tank over time. If this isn’t regularly flushed out as part of your maintenance routine, it can cause blockages and leaks at weak points, such as connections or joints around the outside of the heater.
Sediment accumulation is usually easy to spot. Check your water for signs of discoloration or strange smells that may indicate a problem. In addition, you should also periodically inspect the exterior of your unit for any stains or damp patches which could be a sign of sediment-caused leaking. Another way to prevent sediment buildup is by installing a water softener system, which reduces the number of minerals in your water supply and helps protect your heater from damage caused by mineral accumulation.
8. Improperly Connected Pipes
Water heaters require a variety of pipes and valves for operation, including inlet and outlet pipes, vent pipes, and drain lines, among others. These need to be properly connected with the unit itself; otherwise, it can result in leaks forming at these points.
Leaks caused by improperly connected pipes are often easy to spot. Inspect any connections on your water heater for signs of dampness or corrosion, which could point to a problem. It’s important to have this issue looked at by a professional as soon as possible so that it can be fixed before it can cause further damage.
9. Anode Rods
When you think about leaks, anode rods probably aren’t the first things that come to mind. However, these components inside your water heater tank can become corroded over time and cause leaking.
Anode rods are usually easily spotted due to their characteristic hexagonal shape and length. If you notice any discoloration or pitting around its base, this could indicate that it needs replacing. With anode rods, it’s important to act quickly, as these rods attract and isolate the minerals in the water that cause corrosion. A damaged anode rod leads to corrosion and leaks.
By understanding the most common causes of water heater leaks, homeowners can be better prepared to identify and address any issues before they have a chance to cause major damage. Regular maintenance is key for keeping your unit working efficiently and helping it last longer. With that said, it’s still important to be aware of the potential causes of leaking so that you can act quickly if a problem does arise.
At Beach Plumbing, we specialize in plumbing maintenance, repair, and installation services. We also provide sump pump and sewer services, including video sewer inspections and repairs and the installation of new lining in the sewer pipes. With our expert plumbers, we guarantee you top-notch service and help you keep your plumbing system in optimal condition. We are here to help. Contact Beach Plumbing today for any queries or concerns that you may have.