A water heater can leak from multiple places, but if you have determined that yours is leaking from the bottom, what’s the next step? What do you do?

Our recommendation is as follows:

  1. Make sure it’s a leak – just because you see some water on the floor near the water heater does not mean it’s leaking. It could be condensation from a nearby appliance or pipe. So, dry the area and run your hands on the water heater and the plumbing fittings to see if you feel water anywhere. If you do not feel any water, wait an hour or two and then come back and inspect the “spot” to see if water has begun to accumulate again.
  2. Turn off the power supply to the water heater.
    • For electric heaters – switch off the breaker for the water heater in your circuit box.
    • For gas heaters – there should be an on/off switch or dial to turn it off.
  3. If the leak is significant you will want to turn off your water supply as well. There should be a shutoff valve on the pipes to the water heater. It could be a wheel that turns or a ball-style valve. You can check out our article on How To Turn Off Water To Hot Water Heater. If you need help, call us at Atlantis Plumbing at 770-505-8570and we will help you through this step.
  4. Determine the location of the leak to make sure that it IS coming from the bottom of the heater.
    • Check where the pipes connect to your water heater. Perhaps there’s just a loose fitting that can be tightened with a wrench.
    • Check the pressure relief valve. Leaks can occur here if your hot water heater’s temperature is set too high or the water pressure in your home is too high. The temperature should be no higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit and the water pressure should be between 45 psi and 75 psi.
    • Check the bottom of the water heater. As much as you can, check the bottom of the tank because it could be that the tank has developed a crack.
    • Check the drain valve of the tank. The drain valve is located near the bottom of the tank and it should always be completely closed. If it’s leaking the solution could be as easy as replacing a worn out washer.

What’s Causing Water Heater To Leak From The Bottom?

A leak at the bottom of a water heater could be due to one of two reasons.

  1. There’s a leak in the drain valve which is located at the bottom of your tank
  2. The bottom of the tank either has a crack or has rusted out
  3. The heater element gasket (on electric water heaters) may have become faulty
  4. A seam on your water heater tank may have rusted through or broken open somehow

Now, if the leak is from the drain valve that may be an easy fix. Tightening it or replacing the washer may fix the issue.

But, if the unit has a crack or has rusted out or the seam has broken open or there’s a problem with the element gasket, we recommend that you call in a professional plumber to assess if the unit can / should be repaired or replaced.

Is It Dangerous To Have A Leaking Water Heater?

Yes, absolutely. The biggest danger is that the hot water heater tank could potentially explode. Also, if the leaks are due to rusty pipes, this could pose a danger to the health of your water supply. Another very obvious danger is the damage that could be done to your property due to the water that leaks from the unit.

A leaking water heater is a sign that something is very wrong with the unit itself. Ignoring this or delaying fixing this could cost you much more than simply getting it fixed or replaced right away.

If you have any questions about your water heater or are having some problems with it, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.