Water Heater Leaking? Common Causes and Solutions

Water heaters are one of the most important parts of a home, as they ensure that you always have access to heated water. 

Many homeowners in Arizona rely on their water heaters, so, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to get worried when they find their water heater leaking.

It’s important to fix these leaks as soon as possible, regardless of what caused them. Many homeowners do try to fix leaks quickly but often can’t due to not knowing what caused it in the first place. 

If your water heater is currently leaking, you can use this guide to figure out what caused the leak and what the best solution is for your situation.

Additionally, if you need to replace your water heater, you can contact our specialists at Diamondback Plumbing for quick and reliable assistance.

4 Common Causes of Water Heater Leaks

Behind every problem, there’s a cause; and your home’s water heater is no different. Whether it’s a massive problem that you’re only catching now, or something as simple as a misaligned part, something like a water heater leak can be a sign that you need to take a closer look at the system.

Cracked Storage Tanks

If you’ve been wondering, “why do water heaters leak?”, cracked water storage tanks are, by far, the most common answer to your question. However, the cause of the crack is often dependent on what material the water heater is made of. Some water heater models have a special tank designed specifically for hot water. While all traditional tank water heaters also have a storage tank, these specific additional tanks give the water space to expand.

However, these tanks usually have a glass lining on the inside that can end up cracking if one particular factor happens. As time passes, the minerals in your home’s water supply can collect and start to harden on the glass. This can cause the lining to weaken and crack if enough pressure is placed on that area of the glass. Unfortunately, the pressure from heating water is enough to do so.

Even if your system doesn’t have an inner glass lining, there’s still a chance that you might find your water heater leaking. These leaks are still caused by cracked storage tanks, though. Much like the glass lining, enough time can cause the tank to expand and contract, causing the metal to weaken. Eventually, the metal bends to the point where it cracks the water heater open.

The Water Tank Is Old

Another highly possible answer to the question, “what makes a hot water heater leak?”, is, at its core, its age. Time can lead to the wearing down of the internal valves and parts, which can lead to unexpected leaks. These loosened valves slowly stop being a good barrier over time, eventually corroding enough to let water leak out from the pipes and the tank itself.

On top of the parts wearing down, the tank itself is far more likely to leak due to rust. Since the water heater frequently contains a large amount of water either in it or running through it, the chance of rust forming drastically increases. Very few homeowners inspect the tank’s inner lining, so that rust can build up until cracks form and start leaking water.

There’s Too Much Pressure in the Water Heater

One of the possible answers to why you might find your water heater leaking from the bottom is due to a sudden water pressure increase or the pressure getting too high for the system. Like most plumbing systems, water heaters are built to be able to handle high pressure. Steam gets created when water is heated and then gets released through the system’s pressure valve. 

However, on hotter days, the pressure and steam can build up far further than the valve can handle and release, forcing the pipes to break where they’re weakest. This can also happen in tank water heaters since these kinds of units often hold and reheat water repeatedly. Combined with the likelihood that the tank has rust near the bottom, the water – to relieve the pressure – breaks out through the corroded spot.

If your water heater is frequently exposed to excessive heat, try covering the connections and pipes with heat-repelling white paint. You can also simply try covering the water heater from any incoming sunshine or incoming heat.

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve Is Faulty

Another potential reason that you might find your water heater leaking is that you have a problem with your system’s temperature and pressure relief valve. Also called a T&P valve, this component is responsible for ensuring that the heat and pressure that builds inside the pipes and storage areas don’t overwhelm the system. When the valve’s faulty or too old, though, the pressure can grow higher than it can handle.

In the best-case scenario, all this will do is cause the water to squeeze out through any gap between the pipe and the valve itself. A particularly old T&P valve can loosen, which causes it to incorrectly regulate the pressure inside the system. At this point, the solution is as simple as tightening the valve.

However, if the answer to the question, “why is my water heater leaking?” is a faulty but new T&P valve, the only option you have is to replace the entire part. There shouldn’t be any possible way for water to leak past a new valve unless the part itself doesn’t work correctly, leading to pressure causing cracks to form.

The Best Solutions to a Leaking Water Heater

In many of these cases that we’ve listed above, the solution can be as simple as tightening a valve or replacing a small piece of the system. In the case of excess water pressure, the possibility of safely releasing some of it can be all that’s needed.

However, the solution for a cracked or older water heater is getting it replaced and maybe even upgraded. The cracked shell of a water heater could be patched up with waterproof tape, especially if the crack is in the metal instead of glass. But replacing the system can ensure that the crack won’t suddenly leak again or that you can find an appropriate part for the system if the need arises.

In these cases and many more, our team at Diamondback Plumbing is ready to help you whenever you need us.

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