What should you do when you notice water collecting either on or around your water heater? Take immediate action. A leaky water heater can cause considerable damage to the structural components of your home, so if you want to avoid expensive water damage repairs, you must act quickly.

Take a look below for the steps you need to follow when you notice your water heater has sprung a leak. 

Shut Off the Water Supply

If you suspect your water heater might be leaking, shut off its water supply before you do anything else. There should be a dedicated shutoff valve somewhere on the tank, so locate that valve and turn it to the off position to prevent any additional water from entering the tank.

Turn Off the Water Heater’s Power Supply

We all know water and electricity don’t mix, so before you start hunting for the leak’s origin, turn off the power supply to your water heater. Head to your breaker box and locate the breaker that controls the water heater’s power supply. Flip it to the off position and leave it there until you figure out what’s going on.

Even if you have a gas-powered water heater, leaving the gas valve in the open position while you’re looking for the leak may be hazardous. To protect your safety, locate the appliance's gas shut-off valve, turn it to the closed position, and leave it there until you’ve assessed the situation thoroughly.

Look for the Leak

Once you’ve shut off the water and the power supply to the water heater, it’s time to start looking for the origin of the leak. Where should you look? The most common sites for water heater leaks include:

●        Cold and hot water inlets. If you can see a pool of water on the top of the water heater, there’s a good chance the leak originated at the unit’s water supply valve, the hot water outlet, or the cold water inlet. Check the fittings to see if they’re loose and tighten them, if necessary.

●        Pressure relief valve. Also known as the T&P valve, this valve will allow a little water to leak out if there’s excessive pressure inside the tank. Check to see if the valve is in the closed position. If it’s closed and there’s a leak, that means the valve is probably defective and needs to be replaced. If the valve is in the open position, excessive pressure inside the tank may be forcing it to remain open, and this is typically a fixable problem. But you must call a plumber to handle this issue.

●        Check the water pressure. If the water pressure to the water is greater than 80 psi, turn it down to help ensure excessive pressure won’t build inside the tank. If the pressure is greater than 100 psi, have a plumber install a pressure-reducing valve to help prevent pressure buildup.

●        Examine around the bottom of the water heater. If you notice water collecting around the bottom of the water heater, that may indicate the internal tank is damaged and has sprung a leak. You won’t be able to verify the leak’s origin in this case since the tank is encased, so it’s in your best interest to call a plumber for an inspection. You’ll have to replace the unit if the internal tank is indeed damaged.

●        Double-check the drain valve. Water pooling around the bottom of the water heater may also be caused by a partially open or damaged drain valve. If you can see moisture in the valve even though it’s closed, you’ll need to replace that part or have a plumber do it for you.

Call a Plumber for a Water Heater Inspection

If you’re unsure where the leak is coming from or whether it can be repaired, call a plumber right away. A pro can quickly assess the situation, diagnose the problem, and let you know whether water heater replacement or repair is your best course of action.

Need Water Heater Repair or Replacement Near Wisconsin Rapids?

If your water heater ever springs a leak, get in touch with our expert team at Steve’s Plumbing & Heating right away. Since 1985, we’ve been helping Central Wisconsin homeowners with all of their plumbing needs, and when you need straightforward advice you can trust, we’re here for you too. To learn more or schedule service, call us today at 715-421-1800 or request an estimate, and we’ll get right back to you.