If you have a leaking water heater, water is leaking out of the bottom of the water heater, or sometimes the leak is from something else near the water heater. Read this to help figure out what is leaking. I can offer suggestions regarding controlling the water so that it doesn’t damage the contents of the home. In addition I can help reduce your cost and stress. This is done by helping you understand your particular situation and being able to; know for a fact it is the water heater and not some other device, postpone the replacement until a weekday, properly evaluate the alternative solutions before deciding on the replacement unit, etc.
Do I need to replace the water heater?
Yes, absolutely, IF the tank is leaking. On the other hand preventative maintenance can be less stressful than an emergency. Many people are fine waiting until they have a leak. Others may choose to replace an old (12-15 years) water heater because it is nearing the end of its typical useful life. This describes leaking that can be repaired without replacing the water heater
Something to consider; most of the time, if your water heater starts leaking it will start with a very low flow rate (trickle) and the flow rate will increase slowly over the span of several days or even weeks. This information is based on homeowners’ response to my question: “How long has it been leaking?” Unfortunately there is no scientific data which can predict how long it will take for the water heater leak to transform from a trickle to a flood.
If it is your water heater that has failed: Put rags or towels on the floor to soak up the water and/or direct it to a floor drain. Schedule a service call to occur on a weekday. A survival tactic: try shutting off the inlet valve to the water heater. Then turn on a sink faucet to “hot” until the pressure is reduced (a few seconds if the inlet valve is completely closed/functioning properly). Water will still leak out (hydrostatic pressure), but this reduces the stress on the tank.
You definitely have a leaking water heater and there is more water coming out than you can deal with:
See my other post: Best water heater made
Money saving tip: Is the water coming from somewhere else?
1) Read this completely if you have a furnace (hot air heat) AND the water heater is right next to the furnace. If not, skip to the next item (2).
a) The water heater will be next to the furnace. Furnaces may appear to “leak” water because of two systems. In the summer the air conditioning coils will generate water. If the drain for the collection pan inside the furnace gets clogged the water spills out onto the floor looking like a leak from the water heater.
b) The humidifier attached to the furnace may malfunction or leak.
Money saving tip: Turn off the water supply to the humidifier and schedule service on a weekday. If you need a name of a service company, give me a call.
c) In homes with a furnace, many times there is a small device about the size of a large loaf of bread sits on the floor collecting water, called a condensate pump. This waits until it gets full and then pumps the water up to the ceiling, across the room, to the laundry tub or a floor drain. If this unit fails it will overflow and it is near the water heater….
Money saving tip:
a) You might try placing a pan or bucket under the pump (or substitute a pan for the pump) and empty it when full. If you were really creative and got some fittings and hose (to reach a nearby floor drain) from the hardware store you could create a self draining pan.
b) Turn off or turn down the air conditioning (higher temp in the house) = no water or less water produced.
c) Schedule a repair service call to occur on a weekday.
2) This picture shows a great example of another common problem with a water heater. My blue cordless drill (with red battery) is behind the inlet pipe.
a. Clearly there is a deteriorated pipe just above the drill. This has dripped down to the top of the water heater.
b. If the damage was on the top due to a leaking fitting (in front of the red battery) this is an obvious problem. There might also be standing water on the top of the heater. This is not a leaking tank. Unfortunately depending on how advanced the deterioration of this fitting is, the only corrective action can be replacing the water heater.