Homeowners often wonder, “Why would a water heater leak from the bottom?” Here’s what you need to know before you call a plumber.
Have you found yourself scratching your head and questioning, “Why would a water heater leak from the bottom?” Your water heater is probably one of the most treasured, yet forgotten, apparatuses in your home. If you’re like the majority of homeowners, you take flowing hot water for granted—at least until something goes terribly wrong.
Water heaters are durable, hard-working beasts. They provide you with steaming hot showers for about 8-12 years, on average. But, if you notice water pooling near the bottom of one, it’s time to take prompt action to ensure you don’t find yourself sitting in an ice-cold bath. Here’s what could cause a leak near the bottom of your water heater:
It’s Time to Replace the T&P Relief Valve
Water heaters create a lot of pressure. As the water inside the tank warms up, thermal expansion occurs. For all those Bill Nye the Science Guy fans out there, thermal expansion is a molecular response to temperature changes.
Essentially, when water gets hotter, it takes up more space inside the tank. Large amounts of pressure form, and in the worst-case scenario, the tank explodes.
But why don’t you hear about water heater tanks bursting all the time? The temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P) is to thank. As pressure levels inside the tank rise, the T&P valve opens to release water into a pipe.
By reducing the volume inside the tank, the pressure goes back down to a normal, non-explosive range.
Like any other mechanical part, the T&P valve can break, and when it does, you’ll notice water leaking from the base of your water heater. There is good news, however. Just because the T&P valve leaks doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy a new water heater.
A plumber may be able to resolve the problem by repairing or replacing the valve.
Most T&P relief valves leak because they are loose, and tightening the connection may be all it takes to stop the leak. But if that doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll need to buy a new valve. A replacement isn’t expensive, and it’s a quick fix.
Most plumbers can change the valve in about an hour.
The Drain Valve Is Loose
Do you own a tank-style water heater? Take a look at the very bottom of the unit. You should see a small valve that resembles an outdoor water spigot. This little device is the mighty drain valve. Although it seems quite insignificant, this piece plays a significant role.
It’s responsible for keeping all the water inside the tank. Without this superhero valve, water would flow freely all over your home.
Drain valves are notorious for loosening over time, especially if you don’t keep up with regular maintenance for your water heater. Unfortunately, a loose valve means you’ll end up with a water leak. Finding a trail of water around the bottom of your water heater is the tell-tale sign of a failing drain valve.
What should you do if you suspect a faulty drain valve is to blame for a leak? Before you rush to call a plumber, try tightening it by hand.
The valve could just be loose. A few twists may be all that it takes to stop the leak. No, you don’t need any special tools or superhuman strength to do this.
But if this doesn’t fix the problem, you should replace the drain valve. This job is elementary for a skilled plumber. While you wait for your plumber to arrive, you can stop the leak temporarily with a garden hose nozzle.
There’s a Hole in the Tank
Not all water heater leaks are benign. Dripping water from the bottom of the tank itself usually means replacement is imminent. Over time, sediment builds up in the base of the tank. If you don’t flush this water reservoir at least once a year, the debris will slowly eat away at the walls. A layer of corrosive rust will form, and leaks may being to appear.
Even if the tank leak is only the size of a pinhead, it will get bigger over time. Stop using hot water and turn off the supply line immediately. You need to call out a plumber right away to avoid a full-fledged flood. After all, cleaning up a few drops of water is much easier than mopping up 40-50 gallons.
Tank leaks are not repairable. The only way to resolve the situation is by instilling a brand new water heater. While nobody wants to hear they need to buy a new system, it will save you a few headaches. Also, you won’t have to worry about cold showers or a flooded home.
Tips to Prevent Water Heater Leaks
Dealing with a leaking water heater is never a fun situation. While it’s not possible to prevent all leaks, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Drain and flush the tank every year to remove sediment buildup.
- Change the anode rod at least once every six years to prevent rust.
- Set the temperature to 120-140 degrees to slow mineral buildup.
- Schedule regular maintenance appointments with a local plumber.
- Upgrade to a tankless water heater.
Nothing lasts forever, not even your water heater. You should only expect to get 8-12 years of use from it. As your water heater nears this pivotal age, it’s time to start saving for a new one.
Who Will You Call to Fix a Water Heater Leak?
Water heater leaks are plumbing emergencies. It’s only a matter of time before a small leak becomes a colossal disaster. The quicker you act, the less damage you’ll face. Unless you don’t mind a flooded garage, basement, or living room, you need to know where to turn.
Anthony Wimpey Plumbing has over 30 years of plumbing experience. Therefore, there’s no plumbing fiasco we haven’t seen.
Our plumbers are available 24/7, so no matter when your water heater acts up, we’ll be there in a jiffy. We always put the needs of the customer first, and we won’t leave until we resolve your problem. If it involves water, we’re the team to call!
So, why would a water heater leak from the bottom? Get in touch with the plumbing pros at Anthony Wimpey Plumbing to stop a leaking water heater for good.