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Leaking Water Heater

Why is My Water Heater Leaking?

March 1, 2024

A leaking water heater can cause considerable anxiety, not to mention the potential for damage to your home. If you’re facing this issue, you’re probably wondering why your water heater is leaking and what you can do to fix it. In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of water heater leaks, how to identify them, and effective solutions to keep your system running smoothly.

Common Causes of Water Heater Leaks

Age and Corrosion

Water heaters typically have a lifespan of about 8-12 years. As they age, corrosion can set in, especially if the anode rod, which protects the tank from rust, is not replaced periodically. Corrosion can lead to small fissures or holes in the tank, resulting in a water heater leaking from the bottom or from the sides.

Faulty Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (T&P Valve)

The T&P valve regulates the pressure and temperature inside the tank. If this valve malfunctions or if it’s set too high, pressure can build up, leading to a hot water heater leaking. Regular checks can prevent such issues and ensure that the valve operates correctly.

Loose Drain Valve

Over time, the drain valve used for routine maintenance and flushing of the tank can become loose. This might cause a minor leak that seems like the water heater is leaking water continuously. Tightening the valve or replacing it can usually remedy this problem.

Excessive Pressure

If the water pressure in your home is too high, it can overwhelm your water heater, leading to leaks. Installing a pressure regulator can help manage this issue, preventing excessive pressure from damaging your plumbing fixtures, including your water heater.

Internal Tank Leaks

Sometimes the leak originates from within the tank itself due to sediment buildup. This sediment can cause overheating and rapid deterioration inside the tank. Flushing the tank annually can help reduce sediment accumulation and extend the life of your heater.

Inadequate Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity of your water heater. Neglecting maintenance can lead to various issues, such as a hot water tank leaking or other mechanical failures. Ensuring routine checks and addressing minor issues promptly can greatly reduce the likelihood of leaks.

How to Diagnose a Leaking Water Heater

To determine the source of a leak, start by inspecting the areas around the T&P valve, drain valve, and the tank itself. Check for any signs of moisture or drips. If the leak is not readily visible, place some paper towels around the base of the heater and check for wet spots after a few hours. This can help you trace the origin of the leak.

What to Do If Your Water Heater Is Leaking

If you notice your water heater leaking, the first step is to turn off the power supply to the unit. For electric heaters, switch off the breaker, and for gas heaters, turn off the gas valve. Next, shut off the water supply to prevent further leakage. Once everything is safely turned off, assess the situation to determine if it’s a minor issue, like a loose valve, or something more serious.

DIY Fixes vs. Professional Help

While some minor issues, such as tightening a loose valve, can be handled on your own, more complex problems, such as a leaking water heater tank or a faulty T&P valve, require professional attention. Attempting to fix complex issues without proper knowledge can lead to further damage or potential safety hazards.

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to water heaters. Annual inspections and maintenance by a professional can help identify potential issues before they turn into major problems. Additionally, consider installing a water softener if you have hard water, as it can reduce sediment buildup and corrosion.


Understanding the causes and solutions for a leaking water heater can help you address the problem effectively and prevent future occurrences. Remember, while some fixes can be DIY, for major issues and regular maintenance, it’s wise to call in the experts.

If you’re unsure about the cause of your leak or need professional assistance, don’t hesitate to call Lickety-Split. Our team of experienced plumbers is ready to handle all your plumbing needs promptly and efficiently. Protect your home and your peace of mind by letting us take care of your water heater and other plumbing concerns. Contact us today!


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