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Water Heater Leak Causes and Proper Approach

Water Heater Leak Causes and Proper Approach

Leaks are pretty much never a desirable outcome within any water-related component in your home, and one of the top examples here is any leaking coming from your water heater. Luckily, this is an issue that has a few well-known causes, and it's simple enough to remedy in most cases without breaking the bank or creating too much hassle. 

At Neighborly Plumbing & Services, we're happy to offer numerous water heater services to all of our Utah clients, including for issues where leaks are taking place around this important component. Why might your water heater be leaking, and what can you do about it -- either on your own or with the help of our trusty plumbers? Here's everything you need to know, starting with the differing causes of water heater leaks that are out there.

Corrosion Issues

One concern that is quite common for a water heater is the presence of corrosion on various components, which can sometimes lead to leaks when there are cracks in this metal material. This might be due to poor maintenance from past owners, or it might simply be a natural side effect of aging, although there can also be environmental factors at play (especially if you live in an area with higher levels of humidity, for instance).

This is a problem that can often be prevented by proper care for your water heater tank through the year. In particular, periodic flushing of the tank can ensure that any built-up sediment is washed away, which keeps corrosion at bay. We recommend flushing your water heater tank in spring and again in fall to keep this risk low.

Thermal Expansion

Another reason why a water heater might start leaking is due to thermal expansion, which happens when the water within gets heated up too much and begins to expand as a result. This can cause cracks in the tank, which can lead to leaking over time.

Thermal expansion is typically only an issue for tanks that are too small for their intended use or that are being used beyond their capacity on a regular basis (say, if your family bathes before bed every night). Depending on how often this is happening, it may signal a need to purchase a new water heater tank that's the proper size for your home.

Drain Valve Damage

In other cases, the leak might be due to damage to the drain valve that is present on most water heater tanks. This valve is intended to be opened and closed as needed to drain any excess water that is present in the tank. If it becomes too worn out over time, however, it can become damaged and allow for leaks instead.

Luckily, this is easy to repair for a skilled plumber, and one that won't cost you an arm and a leg to fix. It can simply require the replacement of this valve, which may or may not be an easy fix depending on your setup, but it's well worth doing if you're concerned about leaks in your home.

Loose Connections

Your water heater contains both inlet and outlet water lines that are connected to the tank via a series of fittings. Over time, these connections can become loose or damaged, which means they aren't providing a good seal on their respective pipes and might be allowing for leaks to occur.

This is easily rectified by tightening any connections that seem to be worn out and replacing any pipe fittings that may no longer be holding their place. We recommend doing this at least once every few years, and more often if your water heater is near the end of its expected lifespan.

Temperature or Pressure Valve Issues

In still other situations, the temperature or pressure valve (TPV) might be to blame for a water heater leak. This is known as the "pressure relief valve," and it plays an important role in regulating how much heat is provided by your water heater tank. If this valve isn't working properly, however, it can lead to increased temperatures that are too high for the tank, which might create leaking as a side effect.

Unfortunately, this is one of the more difficult potential causes on our list to fix yourself, since you'll likely need to consult with a plumber or local expert in order to make any repairs. However, it's an important thing to have looked at if you're seeing signs of excessive wear and tear.

How to Proceed if You Find a Water Heater Leak

If you've recently begun to notice signs of a water heater leak, there are a few things you can do to rectify the issue right away. This might start with simply draining any excess water that's present in your tank (via the drain valve), which will then let you inspect the exterior of the tank itself and see if any obvious damage is present.

However, if you're uncomfortable carrying this process out on your own -- or if more complex damage is present and you're concerned about what it might entail to repair the issue -- we recommend reaching out to a professional right away. They'll be able to inspect your tank, determine what's gone wrong (if anything), and will help ensure that the problem doesn't persist or get worse over time.

And at Neighborly Plumbing & Services, we're here to help. Contact us today to get started finding a local plumber in your area who can take on this issue and many others like it. We're here to help you keep your home's water heater running smoothly, and to ensure that any issues it may face are resolved quickly and effectively.

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