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What to Do if Your Water Heater is Leaking

water heater leaking from the bottom
If you have reason to believe that your water heater is leaking, it’s critical to begin fixing the problem as soon as possible. The first sign of a leaking water heater will be the pooling of water underneath the heater.
In this blog, we’ll explore:
  • the causes of water heater leakage,
  • the potential damages resulting from an unfixed leak, and
  • what you can do to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

Causes of Water Heater Leaking

There is a range of different reasons that your water heater might be leaking. The leak will often only require minor adjustments to fix, but occasionally you might have to replace the entire water heater. Let’s explore the common reasons that water heaters leak.
water heater installed in laundry room


One of the most common reasons a water heater leaks is corrosion. It is often the most serious cause, but you will most likely need to replace your heater. Corrosion occurs as a water heater ages, so it is a common issue with property owners who haven’t replaced the heating system in years.

Drain Valve Too Loose

Another common cause of water heater leaking is a problem with your drain valve. If this valve isn’t tight enough, it might begin to leak. It is also one of the cheapest issues to fix if it’s the cause of your leak.

Pressure Issues

If the pressure inside of your heater is too high, leaks often occur. It will usually be the result of the temperature in your water heater being set too high. It may also be the result of external water entering the tank at too much pressure.
Not all water pooling near your water heater will be the result of a leak. It might be a large amount of condensation that has accumulated near the water heater. Still, if you’re unsure about the source of the water, it’s best to be proactive to ensure you don’t damage your property further.

Potential Damages Associated with Water Heater Leaks

If a water heater leak goes unfixed, it might cause extensive damage to the floor of your property. If your heater is located upstairs, the issues can be even more extensive. Upstairs water heater leaks also risk other structural components of your home, including walls, ceilings, internal wood, and more.
It’s critical to fix a leak as soon as you discover it. Delaying a repair service has the potential to cost you and your family thousands of dollars.
water heater having maintenance done on it

Is Your Water Heater Leaking From The Top?

This is typically considered an easy fix and shouldn’t require and major repairs on your water heater if it is treated quickly. Potential causes as to why your water heater is leaking to the top include but are not limited to an issue with:

This is the most common case for water to pool at the top of your water heater. If you notice your inlet valve leaking, the fix can be as easy as tightening the nut that holds the handle. If this does not resolve the issue most likely the valve is faulty and you will need to have it replaced.

Look at the inlet and outlet fittings of your water heater to see if they are the source of the leak. If they are you can attempt to tighten the pipe. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, the issue might be that the nipple is corroded and needs to be replaced.

If water is leaking from this valve it typically can be one of 2 things. The valve triggered from either excessive pressure over 150 psi or the temperature exceeded over 210 degrees Fahrenheit. If the valve is tested and appears to be leaking it should be replaced immediately. 

Steps to Take Once You Diagnose a Leak

If you notice water collecting at the base of your water heater, it’s important to take action. Below, let’s overview the steps you can take to stop potential damages:

Step 1: Identify the Cause

It can be tough to identify the exact cause of the leak (if you don’t have plumbing experience). There are a few helpful steps that you can take to get a rough idea:
  • If you notice your water heater is dripping, it will most likely be a drain valve issue.
  • If it’s spraying intensely, water pressure will be the most likely root cause of the problem.
old and small water heater
Still, these issues can also be a general leak from the tank. If corrosion has taken over, it might mean that your tank is no longer fit for the purpose.

Step 2: Stop the Immediate Cause of the Leak

The next step is to stop the current leak from releasing further water into your home. If you notice dripping, the solution might be as simple as tightening your drain valve. If the water pressure is causing water to spray, you may want to tighten the valve closest to the location of the spraying.
If you can’t manage to stop the leak, it’s best to shut down your home’s entire water supply and call a professional. It can help you avoid water damage from doing even more damage before the issue is fixed permanently.

Step 3: Contact a Professional Plumber

If you don’t have any experience in the plumbing industry, it’s important to contact one of our professional plumbers. While it’s a good idea to stop the leak as soon as you notice it, it is equally important to have a professional see to the root cause of the problem to prevent long-term issues.
If the water damage is already extensive, make sure to tell your plumber it’s an emergency.

Contact the Experts at MT Drains & Plumbing

Now that you know what to do if your water heater is leaking, it’s essential to choose the most effective plumbing team to carry out the repair job. At MT Drains & Plumbing, we have over twenty years of experience diagnosing and fixing water heater leaks for clients throughout Toronto and the surrounding region.
We also offer access to a 24/7 plumbing team if you require emergency leak repairs outside of business hours.

Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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