When it comes to fixing a leaky water heater the difficulty can range from easy to nearly impossible. While it may seem like your only option is to replace the entire unit, you may be shocked to find out that some problems are repairable on your own. Below are some general tips you can use to repair your leaking water heater as well as some situations where it’s best to call in a professional.
Flex Line Leaks
One of the most common places for water heaters to leak is at the flex line. Check the flex lines at the top of your water heater first. A leak from above can drip all the way down your unit, making it look like it’s coming out the bottom. Flex lines often go bad long before you have to replace the unit. Switching out a flex line is simple:
- Just turn off your the water source to the heater, and then release pressure from the water heater by flipping the small pressure release valve at the top of the unit.
- To unhook the flex line, you need an adjustable wrench.
- Once removed, simply attach a brand new flex line, flip the pressure release valve back down and turn back on your water.
The water heater nipple is located on the top of the water heater. This is another common place for leaks to occur. Unfortunately, this is one example of a water heater problem where you may want to call in a professional. This is because you need a pipe wrench and a lot of leverage to replace the water heater nipple. Telling the difference between a flex line leak and a nipple leak is tricky. Your best course of action is to replace the flex line, and if you’re still leaking from the top of the water heater, have a professional replace the nipple.
Drain Line Leakage
If you’re leaking from the bottom of your water heater, your first course of action should be to check the drain valve. After flushing or draining a water heater, it’s common for old valves to not shut completely. You can either cap these valves with a hose cap or replace the drain valve. It’s generally a better idea to replace the drain valve itself. Removing the drain valve requires you to turn off the water, and gas or electricity to your water heater. Drain valves are typically plastic and can break easily, so don’t use too much force when removing the valve.
If the leak coming out of the bottom of your water heater isn’t coming from the drain valve, then there’s a good chance that it’s coming from the tank itself. These types of leaks can’t be repaired easily and are a clear sign that you need a new water heater. Call a professional to inspect your water heater and make sure the leak is coming from the tank. These types of leaks usually can’t be fixed because they’re caused by a defect that has developed inside the tank. If not addressed, the leaks will get worse.
If you’re not comfortable with doing your own water heater repair, there’s no shame in calling a professional. Having a plumber fix your leaky water heater usually costs less than completely replacing the unit. Also, you will save money on your energy and water bills by addressing the leak.
Charlie Teschner started MESA Heating in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.