Why Is Water Leaking from the Bottom of My Water Heater?

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Why Is Water Leaking from the Bottom of My Water Heater?

We all like to take hot showers or the occasional bath. And, of course, running the dishwasher is a lot easier than washing dishes by hand. We depend on our water heaters to provide hot water when we need it. Most of us don’t give them much thought when they are working correctly.

But once you discover a puddle near your water heater, it’s likely all you can think about. At Plumbing By Jake, we also think a lot about leaking water heaters. That’s because we’re fixing them on an almost daily basis. So, if your water heater is leaking, call us, and we’ll schedule a service call right away.

How a Storage Water Heater Works

A one-family storage water heater can hold up to 80 gallons of electric- or gas-heated water, according to Energy.gov. When you turn on your hot water, your water heater pulls it from the top of your tank and sends it into your home’s water lines. 

To replace this water, cool water comes into the bottom of your tank through an inlet pipe called a dip tube. This tube directs the cold replacement water to the bottom of the water tank to be warmed by the gas burner or other thermal device that heats the water.

While it’s heated, the heavy, colder water stays separated from the lighter, hotter water that eventually floats to the top to be used for your appliances and faucets.

Causes of a Water Heater Leaking From the Bottom

There are a few reasons your water heater is leaking from the bottom or appears to be. In all these situations, we refer to the conventional storage-tank water heater like the one mentioned above. 

And as with any serious repair or replacement, we recommend that you call a licensed plumber to take care of these issues.

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

If you find a small puddle or wet spot near your water heater, you may not have a leak. Properly installed water heaters have a temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve on the tank’s side (or top). 

This valve will have a long, narrow pipe attached that runs down to a few inches above the floor. If the only water you see is under this pipe, the T&P valve is your problem.

This valve helps prevent potentially dangerous issues from occurring if the water inside the tank gets too hot or if excessive pressure has built up. The T&P valve relieves the pressure by letting water out of the tank. 

This water then drips down the attached pipe and onto the floor. If you have a closed-loop system, you may also have an expansion tank or need one installed. A failure of the expansion tank can cause more water than normal to discharge through the T&P valve.

Replacing the T&P valve or adding or replacing an expansion tank is an easy repair.

The Drain Valve

The drain valve on your water heater is located near the bottom of the tank in the front. This valve is for draining water from your tank so that your water heater can be replaced or maintained. 

You or a plumber should regularly drain your water heater to discharge sediment that builds up inside your internal tank. If these deposits are not routinely drained, they can damage your tank. If you notice a pool of water near the bottom of your water heater, you may have one of two issues:

  • A faulty drain valve: If the valve is partially open, water may leak onto the floor. Check to ensure it is completely closed before assuming it’s defective. If the nozzle continues dripping, you will need to have it replaced. To be alerted against future leaks, consider purchasing a water leak detector.
  • A leaky drain valve: You will also need to replace your drain valve if you spot water seepage at the valve base. This type of leak will progressively worsen until you have it replaced. 

The Internal Tank

Conventional storage-tank water heaters have an external skin or a metal wall that you can see. They also have an internal water storage tank that you don’t see. When you turn on the hot water tap or shower, the fuel source for the water tank kicks on, then heats the water in the internal tank.

If the internal tank is leaking, you won’t be able to see it, but you will see water pooling beneath your water heater. If it’s been leaking for a while, you may have water damage to your subfloor or drywall, depending on where the water heater is located.

The average water heater is built to last 10 years or so. After that, it’s only a matter of time until the internal tank starts leaking. If you have extremely hard water, the bottom of the inner tank can start deteriorating before that. 

That’s because the sediment in hard water settles at the bottom of the tank and speeds the deterioration. If the internal tank is leaking, a water heater replacement is the only fix.

Water Heater Replacement

If water is leaking from the bottom of your water heater and it’s a result of corrosion in the internal tank, you will need a water heater replacement. First, however, you want to make sure that you get the right water heater for you and your family.

Plumbing by Jake can help you decide on the best size and model for your household. In addition, we’ll ask you questions about your hot water usage habits, whether you have a dishwasher, a washing machine, or other appliances, and how many people are in your home. 

We’ll also ask you if your current water heater heats water with gas or electricity. Based on your answers, we can give you recommendations on the correct sized water heater.

If you’re interested in a tankless water heater, we will go over the pros and cons of tankless and demand water heaters with you to make an informed choice.

Call Plumbing by Jake for Water Heater Repair and Replacement

If water is leaking from the bottom of your water heater, your best course of action is to get it checked out by a local plumber. No issue is too small or too large for our team of experienced plumbers. 

We offer 24-hour emergency services and a 100% satisfaction guarantee to residential and commercial clients. And be sure to ask about our plumbing maintenance plans! Call Plumbing by Jake today, and we’ll diagnose the issue and let you know your options.