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What Causes Water Heater Leaks

Serving Glendale, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, and more of AZ with professional plumbing services since 2001

Many people associate water heater problems with cold showers and freezing water, but there are many other problems to watch for, including a tank leak. Water heater leaks can occur from either the top or bottom of the tank, so there are many reasons why you might be experiencing this problem. Below, we will examine what causes a water heater to leak.

Leaks in a water heater: What causes them?

When you notice water pooling around your water heater tank, it is understandable for you to feel worried or frustrated. The presence of water might be an indicator that a much bigger problem that will require repair or replacement. Let us discuss the possible reasons why your water heater tank is leaking so we can get to the bottom of the problem once and for all.

Age and Corrosion

Eventually, every appliance and system inside your home will stop working, including your water heater. As your water heater ages, it may develop cracks and leaks due to regular wear and tear. Nevertheless, it is important to note that a hot water tank can also become damaged if calcium or sediment builds up at the bottom. This can result in higher energy bills, insufficient hot water, and cracks. If your water heater leaks, corrosion or wear and tear may be responsible. In most cases, routine water heater maintenance will help extend the life of your unit and ensure everything is running smoothly for many years. Regardless of whether your water heater has simply reached its end of service life or not, you will need to schedule a replacement.

Loose Connections

A traditional water heater has an inlet and outlet connection, and water enters the tank through the inlet. Once heated, the water leaves the tank through the outlet. There is a possibility that loose inlet and outlet connections are causing your water heater to leak. If so, check to see if the leak is coming from the top of the tank.

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Pressure that is dangerous

Water heater tanks are prone to accumulating pressure. However, this pressure can also reach extreme, potentially dangerous levels. Excessive pressure can lead to the tank exploding. Water heaters release excessive water pressure through the pressure relief valve (or T&P valve, as it is also called) if they detect excessive water pressure. In order to bring the pressure back down to normal, this valve releases a small amount of steam or water when the pressure builds up. You can see that there is a possibility that the “leak” you’re experiencing may just be the pressure relief valve working. This valve is an important safety feature.

Problems with the pressure relief valves

The pressure relief valve on a water heater can also cause it to leak if it becomes faulty. When the pressure inside the tank becomes too high, this valve releases water or steam, but if it becomes faulty or breaks, water can leak out even when the pressure is normal. Although you may be tempted to replace the damaged T&P valve yourself, an experienced plumber will ensure that the component is installed correctly and safely.

The drain valve may be worn out

Having ruled out a faulty pressure relief valve, you might want to check the drain valve next. There’s a chance that a loose or worn drain valve is causing the leak. During routine maintenance, a plumber drains all the water from your water heater tank using the drain valve. While this valve is handy, it can also malfunction. Generally, a loose drain valve can be re-tightened or repaired with a quick fix. However, depending on the situation, you may need to replace the valve. Your local plumbing expert can assess the situation and recommend the best course of action.

What are the dangers of a leaking water heater?

If you are dealing with a significant leak or suspect your water heater is damaged, take it as a warning. It may mean that certain parts of the unit are not functioning correctly, meaning bigger issues in the future. Delaying the repair can lead to extensive water damage so it is best to seek help from a licensed plumber promptly. Once the issue has been assessed and resolved, you can be confident knowing the potential for further damage will have been minimized.

Instant Plumbing and Rooter Provides Water Heater Services

It can be incredibly helpful to know what causes a water heater to leak, especially if you are currently experiencing this issue in real-time. Instant Plumbing and Rooter can help, whether your water heater is gas or electric. If the water heater is repairable, we will make a repair. If the water heater tank is leaking, we can replace your water heater.


If you need a water heater service contact us today. 480-353-7267.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the common signs that my water heater is leaking?

A: If you find water pooling at the base of your water heater or moisture along the tank’s body, these are common signs of a leak. Additionally, if you notice rust or corrosion around the inlet and outlet connections or the pressure relief valve, this could also indicate a leak. It’s important to address these signs promptly to avoid further damage.

Q: What causes a water heater to leak from the top?

A: Leaks from the top of a water heater often stem from loose inlet and outlet connections where the pipes meet the tank. Over time, these can become loose or corroded, allowing water to escape. It’s important to check these connections first if you notice water on the top of your heater.

Q: Can a faulty pressure relief valve cause my water heater to leak?

A: Yes, a pressure relief valve, designed to release water to lower pressure inside the tank, can sometimes fail or become faulty, resulting in a continuous leak. This valve is crucial for your water heater’s safety, and if it’s leaking, it should be inspected immediately by a professional.

Q: What should I do if I find my water heater’s drain valve is leaking?

A: A leaking drain valve can often be simply tightened to stop the leak. However, if the valve itself is faulty or damaged, it may need to be replaced. It’s best to have a licensed plumber like Instant Plumbing and Rooter assess the situation to determine the proper solution.

Q: Is a leaking water heater dangerous?

A: While a small leak may not pose immediate danger, it can quickly escalate, potentially leading to water damage or mold growth in your home. In severe cases, if the leak is related to pressure issues, it could be a sign of a more serious problem that needs urgent attention. Always consult with a professional if you suspect your water heater is leaking.

About Us

Instant Plumbing and Rooter LLC is a family-owned and operated plumbing business in Phoenix, AZ. We’re a family of reliable professionals that use the latest techniques for dependable plumbing services. Since 2001, we have been taking care of our community’s plumbing needs promptly and professionally.

Through our work, we aim to change the perception of plumbers in our community. Our goal is to make homeowners like you more informed, as well as show others that being a plumber is not just about unclogging toilets.

A plumber brings hygiene, sanitation, and comfort to everyone, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.

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