Sep 22

Water Heater Leak Diagnosis


Water on the floor? Where is it coming from? How much is there? Did it ruin anything? When the dreaded day comes and you walk over to your water heater and there is water on the floor, these are a small fraction of the questions that will be running through your head. Hopefully you are reading this and your day has not come yet however; if it has, this blog will help to answer some of these questions and prepare you for the road ahead.

First thing is first. SHUT off the unit. If it is a gas unit use the emergency gas shut off valve located by the gas control for the water heater. If it is an electric unit then you will need to turn power off at the circuit breaker. If you are concerned about either of these things please immediately call for service.

Second thing is second. WHAT is leaking? It is a common known fact in the plumbing world that “water travels on the path of least resistance.” Basically, don’t trust the puddle. Just because there is water underneath of your water heater doesn’t automatically condemn the unit to a certain death in a heaping pile of scrap metal worth pennies on the pound. Unless you have a hydro-static water issue underneath of your floor, chances are that gravity helped guide this water down to the floor. So start at the top. At the top of your water heater you will find 2 pipes connected, one on the left and one on the right if you’re looking at it straight on. I would suggest starting here, these are the hot and cold connections to your water heater. Check the top of the water heater and the pipes above to make sure there is no leak above the water heater.

If the connections are dry at the top of the water heater, start moving down the unit towards the floor. The temperature and pressure relief valve may be the culprit so don’t forget to thoroughly check there. If it is not the T&P then you more than likely will have to replace your water heater. Water heater tanks unfortunately cannot be repaired and once a leak develops they need to be replaced. The overwhelming majority of water heater manufacturers sell their tanks with a 6 year warranty. Select manufacturers will offer extended warranties that may be purchased when installed. Make sure to check the date of manufacturing and verify with the manufacturer there is no warranty on your unit. The following is a fairly thorough database of date codes for many different brand of water heaters. Try here.

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