Some water heater leaking from bottom problems are DIY fixable, and others aren’t. I’ll show you how to determine why the hot water heater is leaking from the bottom, and how to fix it.
Then you can decide to fix it yourself, or you can decide you need to contact a local plumber.
Hot Water Heater Leaking From Bottom: What Does It Mean?
If your hot water heater leaks from the bottom, you are likely looking at a serious problem. One of the first signs of a hot water heater leaking from the bottom of your tank is seeing a puddle of water underneath the water heater. This is the most common symptom and the problem should be fixed as fast as possible.
A number of different issues could lead to your water heater leaking. However, a few of these are relatively easy to fix. In this article, we’ll help you identify where the problem is and provide you with detailed instructions on how to identify and resolve the issue.
Fixing a Hot Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom
Finding the Leak
There are 3 main problems that can result in a water heater starting to leak from the bottom. Let’s look at some more detail at each of these:
All water heaters have drain valves that can be found at the tank’s bottom. The drain valve is used to empty the tank when maintenance has to be performed, or when the water heater has to be replaced.
Hot water tanks should be drained regularly (yearly) to remove any sediment which has collected inside the tank. If this is not done, the sediment will eventually damage the tank’s inside.
If you find that water pools around the bottom of the tank, the drain valve may be leaking. This problem can be caused by one of 2 issues:
Drain Valve Leaking
If there is water seeping from the valve’s base, the drain valve needs to be replaced. This means that the valve is not water tight and if not fixed, the leak will get worse with time. You can purchase a new drain valve and replace it yourself, or contact a local plumber to change it.
Drain Valve Faulty
First, if the drain valve is leaking from the nozzle, this may simply be caused by the drain valve not be closed completely. Something may have hit the drain valve’s handle, causing a small leak. Before replacing the valve, try tightening it by hand.
Second, if this does not help and the nozzle still drips, the drain valve is defective and you’ll need to replace it. As this is not a safety issue, you can very easily screw a brass garden hose cap onto the valve’s end. This will stop the leak and give you more time before you replace it with a new one.
A good way to detect water leaks early is to buy a water sensing alarm. Water sensors are an excellent investment as they don’t cost much, and they could save you from major problems and expenses. Such as a flooded basement and thousands of dollars in repairs.
Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve
Temperature and pressure relief valves on hot water heaters are a safety feature that are designed to release pressure if the pressure inside the tank gets too high, or if the water gets too hot.
A discharge tube is fitted to the T&P valve to run from the valve to the floor. The tube ensures that any hot water that may leak from the valve is safely directed downwards towards the floor. This prevents hot water from spraying outwards where it may cause injuries.
Is there a wet patch of water at the bottom of the hot water heater? Then check if there is any water at the end of the T&P valve’s discharge tube. If it is wet, the temperature and pressure relief valve could have a problem.
There may be too much pressure in the tank that is being relieved, or the T&P valve could be faulty. We will show you how you can test the valve in this article. If the T&P valve is causing problems, you will have to contact a local plumber. to deal with internal pressure problems, or you may be able to fix the problem by replacing the valve.
As the T&P valve is a safety device, this problem should be fixed as soon as possible. To learn how to replace the Temperature and Pressure valve, watch the video below.
Unfortunately, many leaks are caused by the actual hot water tank. That means that the lining that protects the steel tank from rusting has failed. An electric or gas hot water tank leaking from bottom is caused by an internal problem that results in water slowly leaking out and pooling at the tank’s bottom.
The root cause of a tank leaking is normally lime scale (sediment) building up within the tank. So, if that lime scale sediment isn’t drained away regularly, it will result in the steel tank rusting and cracking. This will eventually cause a leak over time.
Unfortunately, a leaking tank nearly always means that the water heater has to be replaced. To do this, you can purchase a new water heater and install it yourself, or call a professional plumber to check your water heater further.
If you are not yet sure where the leak is coming from, go to our more extensive article for more details.
Preventing a Water Tank Leaking from Bottom
Your water heater’s life can be extended if you perform regular water heater maintenance. Checking the anode rod and flushing the water heater once per year will help prevent the build-up of lime scale sediment, thereby extending its life by years.
Preventing Further Water Damage
Once you have located the source of the leak, you need to prevent further water damage by turning off the power and water to the water heater.
There should be a sticker located on the water heater that describes the emergency shutdown process. If this sticker is not available, take these steps:
Turning Off the Power
- Gas Water Heater – The on/off dial can be found near the bottom of the water heater on the side. This dial should be turned to the OFF position.
- Electric Water Heater – Turn the breaker for the water heater OFF at the main electrical panel. Water heaters most often use a 240 volt circuit breaker dedicated to the heater, meaning that no other circuits will be fed from the same breaker.
Turning Off the Water Supply
- Locate the round handle or lever on the cold water inlet at the top of the water heater.
- Turn the water supply off by turning the lever to close the valve (normally parallel to the pipe), or turning the round handle clockwise.
For a better idea of how to do this, take a look at this video:
Now What Do I Do?
You may prefer to do the repairs yourself depending on your comfort level and the location of the leak, or you may prefer to use a plumber to repair the water heater for you.
So, if there is a leak at the drain valve or the temperature and pressure valve, it’s very likely that the water heater can be fixed.
If the internal tank is however leaking, you’ll probably have to buy a new water heater.
Here’s a video on replacing a T&P valve:
This video on replacing a drain valve will show you how to DIY:
Depending on the brand, model and fuel source, remember that water heaters are normally expected to last for about 10 years.
So, is your your electric or gas hot water heater leaking from bottom? Is the water heater close to its expected lifetime? It might be more economical in the long run to buy a new one, regardless of the leak’s source. Especially, if you can’t do the repairs yourself.
Contact A Local Plumber To Fix That Hot Water Heater Leaking From Bottom Problem
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