Water Heater Leaks: Prevention & Solutions
Posted on September 18, 2017 by Matt Seidell in Water Heaters
Water heater leaks can ruin your home! Imagine coming home to inches of water damaging your house and belongings. It may seem like an unlikely scenario, but it could be entirely possible if your water heater is reaching the end of its life.
The typical lifespan of a water heater is only about eight to fifteen years but can be increased with regular plumbing service. For most people, a leak is just a matter of time. As water heaters age, they wear and become less efficient, putting homeowners at a greater risk for a disaster. A water pressure issue in the pipes or tank could cause the pipes to spray or the tank to overflow or burst. A corroded tank or faulty parts could result in a leak.
Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid the headache of leaks or flooding, or at least minimize the water damage should a leak occur.
Why you should take care of your water heater:
If your water heater leaks or burst, you will have water in your home causing potentially detrimental and costly damage. A burst water heater can flood an entire home with a couple inches of water, but even a small leak can cause significant water damage over time. As water settles in the floors and baseboards, it will stain, cause mold, and the structure will begin to rot and lose stability.
Mold and mildew caused by moisture in your home aren’t just unsightly, it can also cause health issues including nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, skin irritation, or lung infections.
You shouldn’t just wait for your water heater to leak or burst and cause damage to your home and health. Taking proactive steps to maintain your water heater pipes, overflow pan, overflow valves, and the tank is important to prevent extensive damage and costly repairs.
How to prevent and fix water heater leaks:
Regularly check your water heater and surrounding area: Checking your water heater can help prevent issues with it in the first place, or at least make you more familiar with it if an issue arises that you need to tend to. You should check all pipes and valves for leaks, and the underside of the tank for rust or corrosion. When in doubt call a plumbing specialist. If you notice a drip coming from a drain valve, you may be able to fix it on your own by tightening the valve. If the valve is faulty, it will likely need to be replaced. Occasionally releasing some water from the spout at the bottom of the water heater can help remove sediment from the tank, reducing the risk of corrosion and leaks. You should also check the area around your water heater for moisture or mold, which can be indicative of a leak.
Check for condensation: If you notice moisture around your water tank, it may not be a leak at all, but condensation. When the tank is first filled or when the weather gets cold, cold water may fill the tank, causing condensation to form on the tank and drip onto the floor. The water should be cleaned up to prevent water damage, but no additional repairs are needed.
Protect your space: In the unfortunate occasion your water heater does experience a leak, the area around your tank should be protected to prevent water damage. Place an overflow pan under your tank to catch any water that overflows or leaks from your water heater. You can also use sealant on the floor around the water heater to help protect it from water in the case of a leak.
Think about water tank location: If you are renovating your home or building a new home, you should install your water heater in a garage, basement, or area where damage will be minimized.
If you experience a leak: Protect yourself with waterproof boots, gloves, and eyewear.
According to Fran O’Brien, division president of Chubb North America Personal Risk Services, “The time between when a leak occurs and when it is discovered is the single greatest factor in determining the amount of damage.”Before you try to clean up the water, make sure there are no power outlets or electrical wires submerged, and the water is not too hot to touch. Shut off the water supply, using the valve on the pipe leading to the water tank. The water supply typically turns off on its own when the tank is full, so if it is leaking, the water will run continuously. You should also shut down the heating element on your water heater, by either turning off your electricity or gas. Be sure turn your water supply back on before turning the electricity or gas back on so you don’t destroy the heating element. Once you have taken safety precautions and cleaned up to the best of your ability, you should reach out to plumbing specialists for emergency plumbing service to take care of any water damage, and repair or replace your water heater.
Call Lake Cook Plumbing Service, Inc. today for more information on water heater leaks!