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What Should I Do if my Hot Water Tank is Leaking?

There are numerous reasons why a hot water tank leaks. Knowing what’s causing the leak is key to determining what you should do to repair a leaking hot water tank.

Broken Part

The most common part malfunction on a hot water tank is the drain valve. A loose hot water tank valve can cause a slow leak, while a broken valve will cause a much faster leak when water tries to drain out of the unit. Whether it is loose or broken, an experienced plumber can spot the issue right away and get it fixed safely. Simply tightening a loose valve may seem like an easy solution but overtightening it can cause costly damage if the unit is damaged in the process. It’s best to call a plumber to come out and look at it for you instead of trying to tinker with it yourself.

Crack or Corrosion

A hot water tank that’s old or has been misused is likely to crack or corrode. Rust is a hot water tank killer! The size of the hot water tank crack or extent of the corrosion will determine how bad the leak is. Any time a leak is discovered when damage to the unit is suspected, it’s critical to stop using it and turn off the water supply to it right away. Immediately call an experienced plumber to inspect the unit and make a recommendation. If a crack or weakened area is discovered, the plumber will likely recommend replacing the unit instead of repairing it. A hot water tank is dangerous to use if the structural integrity has been compromised because the pressure that builds up inside could cause an explosion, damaging your home and putting your family at risk unless it's replaced.

Excess Pressure

When excess pressure is generated inside, water will be forced out of the hot water tank, resulting in a leak. When the temperature on the unit is set too high, excess pressure will result. While this can be solved by simply setting the temperature to a reasonable level, other items can result in the same issues. A broken pressure release valve can fail to regulate internal pressure or allow too much pressure to enter the unit from the incoming water supply. This is something that a plumber will test when diagnosing the problem. If the hot water tank pressure valve needs to be replaced, a professional plumber can do the job safely while testing other components as well.

Additional resources:
"Hot" water that isn't hot
Should you call an emergency plumber?
Preventing mold after a leak
How much does it cost to replace a hot water heater?