Unfortunately, there is rarely a good prognosis when a water heater is leaking from the bottom. Almost always, this means that replacement – of a part or of the water heater entirely – is going to be required in the very near future. When water is coming from the bottom of a water heater, there are three sites that could be hosting the leak:
- The tank itself
- The drain valve at the bottom
- The tube connected to the temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve)
In the article below, we’ll explain why leaks can happen at these three locations on the bottom of your water heater.
When the Tank Itself is Leaking
If you’re experiencing a leak coming from the bottom of the water heater tank itself, then we’ve got bad news for you: You’re going to need to replace the whole unit. Sediment build-up over the decade-long lifespan of the average water heater eventually causes rust to form at the bottom of the tank. This rust weakens the tank and will inevitably be responsible for a leak at the bottom of the heater.
If your water heater is leaking from the bottom and the tank is the site of the leak, you need to arrange a replacement as soon as possible. The sheer pressure of the water inside of the tank is only going to make a small leak become a big one – and quickly, too.
When the Bottom Drain Valve is Leaking
All water heaters with tanks will have a bottom drain valve as a part of their construction. If this valve has gone loose or failed entirely, a leak is bound to occur.
First, you should see if you can tighten the drain valve by hand. Sometimes, it really is that easy to put an end to a water heater leak. If the valve is tightly on and the leak doesn’t stop, replacing the part should be enough to put the issue to bed.
When a Tube at the Bottom is Leaking
You may see a tube located at the bottom of your water heater. This tube is connected to the temperature and pressure (T&P) valve. This valve works to prevent too much pressure from building up inside the tank, so it serves a very important role. If the water is allowed to get too hot or too much pressure builds up inside of the tank, the valve can leak.
You should check your water pressure first. If pressure is too high inside of the tank, it can cause your water heater to shoot off like a rocket! You can purchase a water pressure gauge from a store for very little expense – and you should, because high pressure is a big problem. If the pressure is over 75 PSI, you need to get a plumbing contractor over to address the cause and fix the issue.
If your water is running too hot, this can also cause the valve to fail. You can easily check the thermostat on your water heater to see if this is the problem. If the water heater is set too high (hotter than 120 degrees, according to most manufacturers), turn it down and see if that fixes the problem.
If you’ve checked and both the temperature and the pressure are within healthy lines, but your water heater is leaking from the bottom still, it’s time to call in the professionals at Ridgeway Mechanical!