My Water Heater Leaked. What Should I Do?


WRITTEN BY: Mark Romero

UPDATED: DECEMBER 19, 2022 | 2 MIN READ

Water heaters are a common household appliance that most people don’t think about until they have a problem. They often cause water damage in a home and can lead to mold and other health problems. Homeowners need to know what to do if their water tank leaks.

Why is My Water Heater Leaking?

There are many reasons why a hot water heater may start leaking, and it’s essential to identify the problem as soon as possible.

The following are some common causes of leaks:

  • A faulty valve
  • A faulty heating element
  • A cracked tank or broken pipes

Other causes include:

  • A loose connection between the tank and the pipes that lead to the hot water tap. If there is any movement in this connection, it can cause a leak.
  • A hole in the bottom of the tank will cause it to leak from the bottom of the water heater. This can happen due to corrosion or an object being dropped into the tank and puncturing it. When the pressure builds up in the tank, it can cause tank leaks.
  • Inadequate insulation near the top of the hot water pipe at the top of your water heater may be caused by mineral buildup clogging up some of these pipes over time.

Valve Issues

There are a few reasons why your water heater could be leaking. The most common reason for leaks is that the tank is full, and the excess pressure relief valve releases some hot water. This often happens when you have a low water pressure or a high demand for hot water.

If your tank is not full, the temperature relief valve is activated and releases hot water. If this happens, you will notice that there will be no steam around the tank. However, there may still be a noticeable amount of condensation on its exterior. This means that your temperature relief valve has opened to release heat from the system to ensure it doesn’t overheat and damage itself.

The drain valve may also be faulty, which can cause it to leak.

Faulty Heating Element

The element is responsible for the water temperature in your tank. If it breaks, the water will be too hot and may start to leak out of your tank from the bottom of your water heater.

A faulty heating element can also cause hot water to run out faster than usual. This is because it takes longer for the tank to heat up when an element is broken, meaning you might end up with a cold water supply instead.

Cracked Internal Tank

A cracked tank is the most common cause of a water heater leaking. The tank, usually made of plastic or steel, can crack due to age or stress. Excessive pressure can cause holes in the tank, depending on the leak’s location. If you find the water coming out of your water heater and smells like gas or spilling onto the floor, shut off the power and call a professional immediately.

What to do if Your Hot Water Heater Leaks

In case your hot water heater leaks, you need to act quickly. You should first turn off the power at the circuit breaker and water supply to the heater. Use the main shut-off valve to stop all water from entering your property. You should also turn off the gas supply if it’s a gas-powered hot water heater.

Source of the Leak

You can find out if there is a leak by checking for wet spots on the floor or ceiling or listening for a hissing sound near it. If you find a leak, call a professional immediately to fix it before any damage occurs. Mop up the leaked water with paper towels or regular towels to avoid further damage to your property.

Water Heater Services

A professional can advise on water heater repairs or if you need to get a new water heater. If it’s under warranty, you may be covered by that.

Will My Insurance Cover a Leaking Water Heater?

The answer to this question is a complex one. Many factors will determine whether or not your insurance company will cover the damages. The first thing to do is check with your insurance company and see their policy on water heater leaks.

Some insurance companies may require you to have a water heater safety valve installed before they will cover the damages from a leak. If you don’t have one, you may need to purchase and install it yourself before you make any claims with your insurer.

FAQs

Is it an emergency if my water heater is leaking?

A water heater is an essential appliance to have in your house. You will need it to provide hot water and heat the home during winter. If you notice a water heater leak, you need to get a professional plumber to repair it as soon as possible. A water heater leak can cause water damage and, on rare occasions, could explode, so it’s best not to take any chances.

Is a water heater ruined if it gets wet?

Water heaters are designed to withstand moisture and water and can be used for years without being damaged by a spill or leak. However, suppose the unit has been submerged in water for an extended period. In that case, it will need to be replaced before you can use it. Gas and electric water heaters have parts that can suffer from corrosion if submerged in water.

Can a water heater leak cause a fire?

A water heater leak is a rare occurrence, but it can cause a fire. A water heater is an energy-intensive appliance, so it’s essential to take care of it and keep it in good condition. The hot water stored in the water heater tank can cause the heating element to overheat and start a fire. This could also happen if a pipe breaks or there is another leak. If your water heater starts leaking or you notice any other problems with your unit, contact your local plumber for assistance.

How do I clean up a leaky water heater?

When your water heater leaks, you should first turn off the water heater and the water supply. This should stop the source of the water and limit the amount of leakage. Next, you should focus on cleaning up any water that has already leaked out. You can use a mop, towels, or a wet vac to soak up the water. You can also open windows or use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the room and prevent mold from developing.

What should I do if my water heater leaks?

Leaky water heaters are a significant issue. The leaky water heater can cause the surrounding area to be flooded. They can also cause substantial damage to your home and the plumbing system.

To start, turn off the water heater and shut off the water supply. Whether you have a gas water heater or an electric water heater, you should turn off the gas or electric supply to the heater. Next, clean up any standing water in the surrounding area with towels or a wet vacuum. Finally, you should call your plumber to look at the heater.

How can I prevent a water heater from leaking?

You can prevent leaks in your water heater by following a regular maintenance routine. One recommendation is to flush out the water heater tank with a quart of water every three months to remove any sediment. Inspect the pressure relief valve and thermostat every six months, and finally, check the anode rod every four years.

Does a water heater leak have to be fixed right away?

If you find a water heater leak, it’s best to get it repaired or replaced by a professional plumber as soon as possible. Getting a water heater replacement quickly means you will only have to go with hot water for a short time. Even more important, you want to limit any water damage; even a small amount of leaking water can cause damage that can be costly.

Insurance for Water Heaters

The first thing you need to do is find out what type of water heater you have. If you need to know, ask the person who installed your water heater or contact your local building inspector. Some types of water heaters require a particular kind of insurance, while others may be covered by your standard policy. To get the best deal on your home insurance premiums, you should research before committing to anything. Complete our online request form, and you can see rates in your area and be connected with a licensed home insurance agent.