We hope the following plumbing tips will help you avoid unnecessary plumbing repairs to your home. Visit this page regularly to see new tips posted. if you have a specific question or tip you need answered, please call, email, or leave us a comment on facebook. We look forward to assisting you.
Find Out When a Leaking Water Heater Means You Need a NEW Water Heater versus Repair
It seems a common reaction for homeowners to assume their water heater is bad and needs to be replaced when they see water leaking or spraying around the water heater unit. We often receives calls from homeowners stating they need a new water heater but sometimes after our plumber checks out the situation, the problem turns out not to be the water heater unit but rather a related issue that can be fixed for much less than replacing the entire water heater unit.
This article has been written for homeowners who would like to better understand the causes of water heater leaks so that they can perform some self diagnosis or DYI repair before calling out a plumbing company or purchasing a new water heater unit.
Three Common Causes of Water Heater Leaks:
Water on top of, underneath, or around your water heater unit could be the result of three different problems that require very different solutions. The first step in diagnosing what repair is needed is to determine where the water is leaking from. To find the origin of the leak, inspect the following
1. Water Heater Tank Leak
Overtime, water heaters corrode producing weak spots and small holes in the tank’s metal. These holes may be extremely small at first but will surely manifest into a problem that eventually will have to be resolved. To determine if your water heater tank has a leak, visually inspect the top, bottom and entire outer surface of the water heater tank for any signs of water. If a leak is discovered then the water heater unit will need to be replaced since there currently is no solution to repair water heater tanks.
Water heater tank leaks are a covered item under most manufacturer warranties as long as warranty terms and conditions have been met. Most manufacturers provide an option on their website to lookup warranty status information. Just write down the serial number and model number from the manufacturer’s sticker located on the water heater and then enter it into the online lookup screen.
If the tank shows no signs of a water leak, then continue troubleshooting the source of water by next checking the water heater’s supply lines.
2. Leaking Water Heater Supply Lines
Water heater supply lines are typically located on top of the water heater unit and connect the water heater to the home’s water supply. The entire supply line may be faulty or if water is leaking at the fitting connection, there is a good chance that the fitting may simply need to be tightened. Most supply lines these days are stainless steel with threaded fittings. This makes it easy for homeowners to tighten with a wrench. Supply lines that are copper tubing with sweat connections however will require soldering. A faulty supply line will need to be replaced in its entirety. While this may require a plumber, it is less expensive than replacing the water heater unit.
**Word of Caution: Before adjusting a supply line or any other water heater connection, it is advisable to shut-off water supply to the unit.
3. Faulty Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
Another place you may notice a leak if you have a storage water heater, is from the external device that is designed to safely release pressure from the tank. This device is called the temperature and pressure relief valve (aka T&P valve). T&P valves are usually connected to the side of the water tank. A functioning T&P valve that is leaking or releasing water is a sign that the water heater’s temperature or pressure is too high and needs to be reduced. You can turn down the temperature by adjusting the controller.
How fast water is entering into the water heater can easily be tested by connecting a hose bib pressure gauge to an outside hose bib. Once connected, just simply turn on the water and review psi results. Ideally, pressure should be between 55psi to 65psi and should not exceed 80psi. A reading of 80psi or greater means you need to call a licensed plumber to see if your water regulator is functioning properly.
We hope these DIY water heater troubleshooting tips have been helpful to you. If you have determined a new water heater is necessary, or your need water heater repair or diagnostic help from a licensed plumber, we would love to hear from you.
Other Plumbing Tips
Keep an eye out for trouble. When it comes to plumbing, little leaks can lead to big problems. Be alert to signs of impending plumbing failures: Leaking faucets, damp cabinets, rocking toilets or dripping refrigerators all signal problems that need prompt attention.
Repair problems early. A leaking faucet isn’t just annoying; the moisture it releases puts wear on sink fixtures and can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Stay on top of problems to keep the household clean and dry.
Know where to go when trouble happens. Should plumbing fail, will you know how to stop the flood? Locate the main shut-off valve for the home water supply. If it’s in a dark, hidden, or hard-to-reach place, gather any tools you’ll need for a quick shut-off, and store them nearby. There’s nothing like the frustration of a missing flashlight or a misplaced shut-off key when water’s pouring down the stairs from a broken pipe.
Shutting off appliances. Similarly, know how to shut off water to sinks, toilets, washing machines and water-using appliances like the refrigerator’s icemaker. Should they misbehave, knowing the location of the shut-off valve will save the day and a lot of wet cleanup.
Cold snap: Keep plumbing safe in cold weather
In hard-winter climates, freezing pipes can create a sudden household emergency. Frozen water expands, cracking pipes; when the area thaws, the cracks vent a flood. Plumbing help can be hard to find in a weather crisis, so try these tips:
Prevent frozen pipes before they start. Best defense: insulation. Insulate exposed pipes in a crawl space or in the garage with easy-to-install plastic insulation. It’s a peel-and-stick solution. Before winter comes, remove exterior hoses, and apply insulating caps to outdoor fixtures, as a frozen exterior spigot can damage interior pipes. Households with automatic sprinkler systems can clear standing water with compressed air.
When cold weather strikes, go into action. Open the cabinets beneath sinks and bathroom fixtures; warmer household air will help prevent the pipes inside from freezing. Opening taps to a bare trickle keeps water flowing and avoids a frozen blockage.
If pipes do freeze, don’t panic. First, shut off the water supply to the house, then open a faucet near the blocked area to vent vapors from the frozen water. If you suspect that pipes in the hot water system are frozen, turn off the hot water heater. Use a hair dryer to warm the frozen pipe (never use an open flame to thaw a pipe), starting at the end of the pipe nearest to the tap. (Don’t use a hair dryer in areas of standing water.) You’ll know the pipe has begun to thaw when water begins to trickle from the open faucet. When the flow is restored, check the plumbing carefully for cracks or leaks.