Discovering that your hot water tank is leaking from the bottom is something you need to deal with right away. This is likely happening for one of three reasons. Either way, depending on what is causing the leak, you will need to act fast. Here is what to do when you have a water heater that is leaking from the bottom.
How to tell if your hot water tank leaks from the bottom
Before we begin, hot water tanks contain enormous pressure and extremely hot water. Because of this, we recommend contacting a professional to inspect your hot water tank. However, if you choose to do this on your own, please take all the precautions as the water can cause severe damage and burn you.
Step 1: Dry the area
Determine where the water heater leak is coming from. The best way to do this is to dry the area with a towel and see if any water begins to gather.
Notice where the water is coming from. It will usually be from one of three places. Once you see where the leak is coming from, you will need to take action quickly.
Step 2: Turn off power to the tank
Before doing anything else to your water heater, make sure that there is no power going to it.
Electric Water Heater Tank
If you have an electric hot water tank, the best thing to do is to turn off the power at the breaker before doing anything with your tank. Simply find your panel and switch the breaker off.
Gas Water Heater Tank
If you own a gas water heater tank that is leaking, shut off the gas before working on the tank. There will be a dedicated gas shut-off valve on the line going into the tank. Simply put it to the off position. If you believe that you may have a gas leak, turn off the gas and contact a professional right away.
Step 3: Turn off the water supply
Your water heater gets its water from the cold water supply. It should have a shut-off valve at the cold inlet. Turn the lever to the off position.,
If your tank has a wheel on it, turn it clockwise until the water shuts off. At this point, you do not need to drain the tank.
Once the water lines are off, you can take a closer look to see why your water heater is leaking from the bottom.
What causes your water heater to leak from the bottom?
There are a few places that water heaters will leak over time. You may not have noticed immediately, but perhaps you’ve had hints like low hot water pressure or dampness in the basement. Whenever water is involved, it’s important to deal with it right away to avoid water damage.
Here are the places you want to inspect.
Your hot water tank consists of two separate tanks. There is the internal tank, which is covered with insulation, and then the outer tank, which is the one you see.
If you have an internal tank that is leaking, you will not be able to see it as it is covered by the outside tank.
The internal part of the hot water tank may be damaged. This is usually caused by a variety of reasons, such as a faulty tank or the tank not being properly maintained. You may have noticed this starting to happen over time if the hot water in your house is not as hot as it used to be.
When an internal tank leaks, it will come out of the bottom of the water heater. There is no way to replace an internal water tank. The best thing to do is drain it, hire a plumber to install a new one, and have them take the old one to a scrapyard in the area.
If you have had your water heater for over a decade, your tank may need to be replaced.
Drain valve leak
When I first saw water leaking from the drain valve, I had to Google, “Why is my heater leaking from the bottom drain valve?” It turns out that it’s a commonplace for water to leak.
Your drain valve is where you drain the hot water tank when you perform your hot water heater maintenance. It’s also where you empty the tank and remove any sediment that gathers.
If there is a loose drain valve, water can start to drip out of it, causing your tank to leak. The valve itself may also be loose (as was our case). A slight turn with a plumber wrench tightened up the valve, and the dripping stopped.
If that doesn’t work, check to make sure there is nothing blocking the drain valve, such as sediment from the inside of the tank. The best way to do this is to flush the drain.
To flush the drain valve, attach a garden hose to it and open the valve for a few seconds to flush out anything that may be preventing the valve from properly closing.
If tightening the valve doesn’t work, the next step is to replace it with a new drain valve. If you leave it, the tank will continue to drain water and could result in water damage to your basement.
To replace the drain valve, you will need to drain the tank first. You can do this by connecting a hose to the existing drain valve and running it down a drain.
Next, you can remove it with a wrench and turn it counterclockwise.
Then, take the new valve and put on some Teflon plumbers tape. Make sure to put about 5 turns on it and work the tape into the groves of the valve.
Then, turn the new valve counterclockwise until it is snug first by hand and then use a wrench to do the final tightening.
Turn the water back on to see if there is a leak. If not, you have fixed the issue.
Leaking overflow pipe (T/P relief valve)
This is the pipe that is connected to the temperature and pressure relief valve (aka T & P valve). If the pressure builds up in the tank, this valve will relieve the extra pressure.
The pressure relief valve is a part of your tank to relieve pressure when there is excessive heat or excessive water in the tank. The TP valve can be on the top or the side of the water tank and will have a pipe coming from it running down the side of the hot water heater so that the water can drain out to the floor.
This can make it look like water is coming out of the bottom of your water heater, when in fact, it’s only coming out of the tube at the bottom.
Check the inside of the tube to see if there is moisture; if there is, your temperature and pressure relief valve is likely the culprit.
This could mean that you have a T and P valve that needs to be changed. You can replace the TP valve, but it’s best to contact a plumber who can assess the situation and decide what is best.
What to do after you have identified where the water is leaking from the bottom of your water heater
Once you know the source of the bottom leaking water heater, you can deal with it.
For a drain valve and TP relief valve, you can attempt to change them on your own if you have previous experience. An internal leak means you will need to replace the whole tank.
For most homeowners, it’s best to hire a professional as you are dealing with dangerously hot water and pressure.
To find a plumber in your area, use the link below.