Indeed, you can approach many plumbing issues on a DIY basis and carry out the necessary. For instance, with low pressure, cleaning the showerhead can solve matters. Or, you may want to check your water meter valve. Likewise, fixing a leaky sink is easy if you replace the trap with a new, inexpensive one.
And then there are plumbing repairs that aren’t within your reach. One of those problems is a leaky water heater. That’s when you shouldn’t undertake the fixing yourself. Instead, call in the professionals. Before we get into the whys and the hows, let us explain some things about this common home appliance.
Water heater lifespans
Typically, most water heaters in homes will work fine for eight and 12 years. That remains true regardless of the manufacturer that built the heater. But you can cut this lifespan short by not carrying out annual maintenance.
Unexpected hassles that you may face include waking up to a cold shower. Moreover, this can occur without warning! Sometimes, though, you spot the leakage and treat it like the early warning it is.
Water heater leakage – the whys
As you’ll see below, there isn’t only one reason why such a leakage may occur. There are several, and we try to cover them all albeit briefly:
- A broken drain valve can be behind the leak. You can recognize it if the water is flowing from the tank’s bottom. It is a relatively easy fix, which requires replacement of the said valve.
- Without maintenance, sediment buildup can take place within the heater’s tank. Consequently, you’ll see corrosion, holes, or cracks. When this happens, it is definitely time for you to buy a new water heater. But here’s the tough part about this type of leakage: you might mistake it for a broken drain valve. That’s because the internal tank is wrapped in insulation before the outer skin covers it. So, the water will run down the bottom of the outer tank. Another reason to call in a plumber before more damage is done – more on that below.
- Due to normal wear, the outlet or inlet water lines can become loose. The result would be a leak. So, what’s the solution? Tighten the loose lines or replace the completely worn-out ones.
- Broken pressure/temperature valves may also lead to water leaks. But you can differentiate it from the other types. That’s because, in this case, the water will flow from the sides of the tank.
We now arrive at another important reason for professional plumbing help. At times, multiple issues can be behind an innocent leak. You may be fixing the wrong component or missing the most important one by attempting DIY water heater repair.
Water heaters don’t just develop water leakages
If you can smell it, it is likely that your stove is on or your heater’s leaking natural gas. Check the stove, and if the smell doesn’t dissipate, then your water heater is the culprit. That’s when you must call a plumber and the gas company both!
Usually, the source of the gas leak is found in older models of water heaters. In the newer ones, a flame sensor, or the thermocouple, turns the gas supply off when the pilot light extinguishes. The outcome: no leakage. But if you inherited the heater with your house, the thermocouple may need replacing. It costs between $5-10.
Moreover, the newer models can develop gas leaks too. It may happen due to a malfunctioning thermocouple or a crack in the pipes leading to the heater.
Water heater leakage – why fix them?
While we may not have to inform you of the dangers of natural gas leakage, water-leaking heaters can cause problems too. For instance, you may come home to completely soaked – and ruined – carpeting. Or, the escaping trickle may saturate and destroy your belongings, such as books, electronics, furniture, and records.
But that’s not all. Because if your floor, walls, and carpet absorb the water, they will start to rot. The horrific outcome? Mold!
This horror story can quickly come true if your leaky heater is situated on the ground level or inside the house. But even water heaters located in garages shouldn’t be allowed to keep on leaking indefinitely.
Whatever the case, don’t delay if your plumber tells that you need a water heater replacement. Moreover, don’t attempt to do the replacing yourself. It will involve disposing of the bulky old water heater and then fitting in a new one. So, if your back cannot handle lots of heavy lifting, then let the professional plumbers handle it.
Additionally, these experts are also aware of the safe way of recycling damaged water heaters. They also have the resources and equipment for removal and replacement. Why take the unnecessary risk?