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Why Is My Water Heater Leaking? A Phoenix Tech Answers

July 28, 2020

Notice water dripping from your water heater or pooling at the bottom of the tank? That’s not a good sign.

There are a variety of reasons your water heater could be leaking, but a few of the most common include:

  • Loose drain valve
  • Loose pipe connection
  • High pressure
  • Cracked tank

Below, we’ll look at each of these issues in a little more detail, so you can get a better idea of what’s causing your water heater to leak and the next steps you can take to stop it.

Don’t trust a DIY fix and want a professional to come take a look instead? You got it! Check out our water heater repair services or schedule service with us!

Loose or broken drain valve

Near the bottom of your water heater is a drain valve that’s used when the entire tank needs to be drained for maintenance or repairs. If you notice that the leak is coming from the drain nozzle, the fix could be as simple as replacing the valve.

Example of where your drain valve is located and what it may look like (can be made out of metal or plastic).

Loose inlet/outlet pipes

If you notice water dripping on top of your water heater, the most likely cause is that one of the pipes going into or out of the water heater is loose.

To fix this, tighten the inlet and outlet pipes. If the leak continues, you should reach out to a professional for help. There could be a clog in one of the pipes or even the wall.

Pressure is too high

If the pressure in your water heater gets too high, it will cause your pressure relief valve to open and let out some of the water.

However, sometimes pressure relief valves themselves can be faulty or malfunction, which could also cause leaking even if the pressure inside your water heater is in a normal range.

To determine whether the water pressure is too high or if there is an issue with your pressure relief valve, you should check the pressure of your water heater. If it’s above 80 PSI, the pressure in your tank is way too high. If it's below 80 PSI and the pressure relief valve is discharging water, there’s probably an issue with the pressure relief valve itself and you should call a technician to come and take a look.

If high pressure is the problem, one possible issue is that your water temp is set too high, causing pressure to build in the tank. Some manufacturers automatically set water heaters to 140º degrees, however, recommends setting your water heater to 120 degrees. So, if your water heater is at or higher than 140º, the temperature may be your issue. Turn down your water heater temperature to see if this solves the problem.

If your water heater is set below 140º AND your pressure gauge shows a normal PSI, you should call a tech to come to take a look at your water heater. There is likely a larger or more complex issue they will need to diagnose and fix.

Cracked tank

Another reason your water heater could be leaking is because of a cracked tank. On average, water heaters last about 8-12 years. So if your water heater is near (or past) this age or has been neglected, it’s probably a cracked tank that’s causing your water heater to leak.

Over time, water heaters can rust or crack from the prolonged exposure to heat or sediment build-up. We hate to break it to you, but if you can see water dripping from the tank itself or if your water heater is 10+ years old, you are probably going to have to replace your water heater completely.

Still notice water dripping or leaking from your water heater? We can help!

Sometimes doing it yourself (especially when it comes to plumbing) just doesn’t cut it. Water heaters can leak for a variety of reasons, so if you can’t figure out what’s wrong or how to fix it, we’d be happy to step in.

Schedule service with us!

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By Ty Lindsay

Ty Lindsay is the Director of Field Operations at Patrick Riley | Isley’s and a 15-year veteran of the plumbing and HVAC trades. In 2010, Ty earned his Journeyman’s plumbing license. He became a Master Plumber five years later and earned his Journeyman HVAC technician’s license that same year. Ty’s breadth of knowledge in plumbing and HVAC includes both residential and commercial work. He’s been a loyal member of the Patrick Riley | Isley’s team since 2016.