By: Kurt Wilson | March 29, 2016

Water heaters have become an important part of our daily routine. They become especially helpful when the cold winter season begins. But what happens when you have a water heater leak? If your water heater is leaking, this is a sign that something is wrong with your system. The problems could range from a simple loose valve to an issue as major as a corroded tank. What do you do when you see dripping from your heater’s tank or when you see water pooling around your water heater’s base? 

Read on to find out how to properly diagnose water heater leaks and how to deal with them. 


The first obvious step is to diagnose the problem. Sometimes the water pooling you see around the base of your water heater isn’t coming from a leak at all but due to condensation which isn’t an issue. It is vital to check if you have dripping water from your unit or something as worse as flooding as these signs will help you determine your next step. If you have already experienced flooding from your water that caused damages to your home or property, you may have to check on the coverage of your insurance policy.


Problems with flooding or water spraying from your pipes usually have something to do with either the water tank itself or the water pressure within the pipes. These issues should always be attended to immediately to prevent the water from damaging your property. 

Leaks from the pipes where water flows to the heater. The very first step to take is to turn off the main water supply to the house. Shutting off the water supply will allow you to clean up the mess and then do the troubleshooting steps needed to get the fix completed. At some point, you may see the valve above the water heater and you can simply rotate the handle to turn off the water. 

When the water is shut off, assess the damage you have in your pipes and decide whether it is best to have the leaking portion sealed, repaired, or replaced. 

Leaks coming from the hot water tank. The most common cause for a water tank that is leaking is due to age. Over time, tanks will get corroded and when that happens, the most viable solution is to get the tank replaced. Before getting the replacement solution completed, remember to always drain the tank and let all the water out. Be cautious as you may still have hot water in the tank. 

Leaks from the heating gasket of the water heater. When dealing with electric heaters, the leaks may be coming from the heater’s heating element gaskets. If the leak is coming from this part, it is important to shut the power off before you make any attempt whatsoever to do any repairs on your water heater. Next, drain the water from the tank. After doing so, the gasket should be replaced as needed. As soon as the heating element is replaced, turn on the water supply to the tank, let the hot water run into the home’s sink just to make sure that air is released from the water heater tank. These steps will avert problems with the heating element. Finally, turn the power back on and test the water heater. 


When there is water dripping directly from the water heater itself, it is also important to check and find out where water is dripping from. There are three possible causes – an issue with the pressure-relief valve, the drain valve, or simply just a result of condensation. 

Drips from pressure-relief valve. While it is normal for a temperature-pressure relief valve (TP valve) to leak when it senses extra pressure on the pipes, there are instances when the TP valve simply becomes faulty and starts leaking even without the excess pressure. In cases like this, the remedy is to get the TP valve replaced. You can always check on your manual for the step by step process of getting this valve replaced. 

Drips from drain valve. At some point, drain valves can become loose. In this case, you can simply get the valve tightened to solve the problem. However, if there is still a problem with water dripping from the drain valve, this may mean that the valve is already defective and will need to be replaced. 

Drips due to condensation. Now, drips coming from your water heater may also be due to condensation issues – when the tank is first filled with cold water, water drips due to condensation and eventually disappears when water has been warmed. This should not be a cause for alarm as this is a normal process. 

When dealing with gas water heaters, there may be condensation due to a block or obstruction in the vent. Always make sure that the flue is clear of any barrier to prevent this from happening. 

While some of the water heater problems may be minor and can be easily fixed, there are instances when even the minor issues can be a huge stress to someone. Always remember that you can reach out to your trusted plumbing company so you can get the help you need. More tips on how to fix water heater leaks at

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