(360) 791-7836

Leaking Water Heater–Emergency  or Not?  

“Having a leak” in your water heater can mean many different things. The issue ranges from being a minor inconvenience to an emergency. This guide aims to help you navigate the differences.

Identifying a Leak

Identifying a water heater leak early on is one of the best things you can do for your home. Some signs to look for are:  

  • Unexpected pools of  water around the heater. 
  • Increased humidity or dampness in the vicinity of the heater.
  • Or unusual noises such as dripping or hissing coming from the unit. 

As soon as you find these issues, you should immediately shut off the power supply to the water heater to ensure safety, (turn off the circuit breaker for electric heaters, and close the gas supply valve for gas models). Taking these extra steps right away can help to prevent–or at least lessen–extra damage. 

Emergency or Not?

When It’s an Emergency

Sometimes it can be hard to tell what needs immediate attention and what can afford to wait. The thing that really separates an inconvenience from an emergency can be boiled down to one thing: the size of the leak. A large leak, especially if it’s from the bottom of the tank or involves a malfunctioning temperature pressure relief valve, needs immediate attention. These conditions can lead not just to water damage, but also pose a safety risk due to the potential for pressure buildup within the tank.

When It Can Wait

Not all leaks demand immediate emergency repair. Smaller leaks, such as those from the drain valve or due to loose fittings, might not require urgent attention. They should not be ignored for long, however, and addressing these issues promptly can prevent them from escalating into more significant problems.

Causes of Water Heater Leaks

A myriad of issues can lead to a leaking water heater. Internal tank corrosion, faulty pressure relief valves, or compromised water inlet and outlet connections are among the common culprits. Understanding these potential causes can help you–if not prevent–at least detect leaks early. 

When is it Safe For a DIY Fix? 

For the DIY enthusiast, certain minor leaks might be manageable with some basic knowledge and tools. Tightening loose fittings or replacing a degraded washer could temporarily fix minor issues. However, it’s important to know your limits; some problems are better left to professionals to avoid exacerbating the issue.

Professional Intervention

In many instances, the safest and most effective solution to a leaking water heater is professional repair. Experienced plumbers like those on our team at Black Lake Plumbing have the necessary tools and expertise to accurately diagnose and resolve the issue, ensuring a durable repair and peace of mind. Always remember, if you feel overwhelmed or unsure in any plumbing situation, Black Lake Plumbing has your back. Don’t hesitate to contact us in any water heater situation—big or small. 

Preventing Future Emergencies

Maintaining the health of your water heater is essential in preventing future emergencies and ensuring its longevity. Here are a few handy tips and tricks that will help minimize the possibility of future leaks or other issues:  

  • Annual Inspections: Have a professional conduct annual inspections to help prevent problems before they ever occur.
  • Temperature Settings: Ensure your water heater’s temperature is set within a safe range, typically around 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit, to prevent overheating and reduce the risk of pressure build-up.
  • Check the Anode Rod: The anode rod protects your tank from corrosion. Checking it regularly and replacing it when necessary can extend the life of your water heater.
  • Flush the Tank: Sediment build-up can lead to inefficiency and corrosion. Flushing the tank annually helps prevent this.
  • Pressure Relief Valve Test: This valve helps to control the pressure inside the tank. Testing it annually ensures it’s functioning correctly, which greatly aids in preventing pressure-related issues.
  • Insulate the Pipes: Insulating both the hot and cold water pipes attached to the water heater can reduce heat loss, improve efficiency, and minimize the risk of freezing in colder months.

Adding these few extra steps into your home maintenance routine can lengthen your water heater’s life a great deal, and will help your home continue to function smoothly and efficiently. 

Final Thoughts

Understanding when a leaking water heater becomes a problem, from identifying the leak to deciding on the appropriate course of action, is important for any homeowner. Armed with this knowledge, you can address the issue with confidence, whether by undertaking minor fixes yourself or by trusting the expertise of professionals like Black Lake Plumbing.

Why Choose Black Lake Plumbing?

Trusting Black Lake Plumbing means trusting a dedicated team who are always ready to provide rapid, reliable solutions with a commitment to excellence. We pride ourselves on our community roots, and are here to serve you locally anywhere from Lacey to Olympia. Contact us today to experience the difference of a service that truly believes in getting it right the first time.