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Why Is My Water Heater Leaking?

Why Is My Water Heater Leaking?

Do you notice a suspicious puddle of water around your water heater?

You probably have a water heater leak, which you’ll want to fix ASAP to prevent water damage to your home.

First, you’ll want to see where the leak is coming from:

  1. Is it coming from the top of the water heater tank? If so, read the first section.
  2. Is it coming from the bottom of the tank? If so, jump to the second section.

In this article, we’ll explain what to do in each situation...


Leaking from the top? Here’s what to do

If water is coming from the top of your water heater, it could be caused by one of the following problems:

  • A leaky cold water inlet valve
  • A loose pipe fitting
  • A leaky temperature and pressure relief valve
  • A corroded anode rod
  • A hole or leak in the tank itself

Follow these steps to troubleshoot and fix the problem...

Step #1: Turn off your water heater

Turn off the gas or electricity (depending on the type of water heater you have) before you start messing with it.

  1. Gas water heater: Turn the gas valve to the OFF position. You’ll find this valve on the water heater itself.
  2. Electric water heater: Shut the power off at the electrical panel. Look for a two-pole breaker labelled “water heater” and switch it OFF. Make sure the ball valve connected to the water heater is at a 90° angle (perpendicular to the piping).

Step #2: Find the leak

Carefully look for water escaping from these water heater components:

  • A cold water inlet valve. Make sure no water is escaping from this valve.

  • Loose pipe fittings, like the rusted hot and cold water valves pictured above, can leak water.

Check to see if your water heater’s temperature and pressure relief valve (pictured above) is leaking.

Your anode rod is a thin rod that absorbs all the corrosive materials in the water to keep your water heater from corroding. If your anode rod is corroded, water can bubble up from your water heater and leak.

Step #3: DIY repair or call a professional

Leaks you can try to fix:

  • A leaky cold water inlet valve: Just use a wrench and turn the nut counterclockwise to try and tighten the nut.
  • A loose pipe fitting: Use a wrench to tighten the pipe fitting. If it’s corroded, don’t try to tighten it. You’ll need a professional to replace the pipe fittings for you.
  • A leaky temperature and pressure relief valve: Follow these instructions to replace a temperature and pressure relief valve. If you don’t feel like you can fix it, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Leaks you need a professional to fix:

  • A corroded anode rod: You should call a professional immediately if you notice any bubbling water coming from the top of your tank. That means the anode rod has corroded and should be replaced. If you don’t get it replace soon, you risk damaging your water tank. For more information about anode rods, read our article “The #1 Killer of a Hot Water Heater.
  • A hole or leak in the tank itself: You’ll need a professional to replace your water heater tank immediately. If you wait too long to replace the tank, you increase the risk of the tank busting and flooding your home.

Leaking from the bottom? Here’s what to do

Unfortunately, a leak from the bottom of a water heater is more difficult to fix, and it likely means you’ll need a new water heater.

Generally, your water heater will have 1 of these 2 problems if it’s leaking from the bottom:

  • A leaky drain valve
  • A leak in the tank itself

Let’s take a look at the steps to troubleshoot and fix each problem...

Step #1: Turn off your water heater

Turn off the gas or electricity (depending on the type of water heater you have) before you start messing with it.

  1. Gas water heater: Turn the gas valve to the OFF position. You’ll find this valve on the water heater itself.
  2. Electric water heater: Shut the power off at the electrical panel. Look for a two-pole breaker labelled “water heater” and switch it OFF. Make sure the ball valve connected to the water heater is at a 90° angle (perpendicular to the piping).

Step #2: Find the leak

Carefully look at these 2 places:

  • Look at the drain valve to see if water is leaking here.
  • Inspect your water heater tank. Do you notice water coming from the side? If so, the tank itself is likely the source of the leak. You see, over time, corrosive elements in the water will cause your water heater to rust from the inside out. And when this happens, you’ll start to notice small leaks in the tank. Beware: this likely means your water heater is at risk of bursting, so replace it ASAP.

Step #3: Call a professional


Need a plumber in Minneapolis-St. Paul?

Contact MSP Plumbing to schedule a water heater leak repair. We’ll send one of our trusted plumbers to your home and get your water heater repaired in no time.

We’ve been serving families in the Twin Cities area since 1918.


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