What to Do When Your Water Heater Starts Leaking: Expert Advice from Bakersfield Plumbing Company

At Bakersfield Plumbing Company, we’ve been serving Bakersfield, CA, since 1910. With over a century of experience, we’ve seen it all, including one of the most common plumbing issues: a leaking water heater. If your water heater starts leaking, it’s crucial to act swiftly to prevent further damage to your home. Here’s our detailed guide on what to do when you encounter this issue, written from the perspective of our experienced plumbers.

Understanding the Problem

Water heater leaks can stem from various sources, including the tank itself, the connections, or the pipes. Identifying the source of the leak is the first step in addressing the problem.

Step-by-Step Guide to Handling a Leaking Water Heater

  1. Turn Off the Power Supply
    • Electric Water Heaters: Locate your circuit breaker panel and turn off the breaker labeled for the water heater.
    • Gas Water Heaters: Find the gas supply valve on the water heater and turn it to the “off” position.
  2. Shut Off the Water Supply
    • Locate the cold water shut-off valve at the top of the water heater. Turn the valve clockwise to stop the water flow into the tank. This will help minimize water damage while you assess the situation.
  3. Drain the Water Heater
    • Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater tank. Run the hose to a floor drain or outside area where the water can safely flow. Open the drain valve and allow the tank to empty completely.
  4. Identify the Source of the Leak
    • Top of the Tank: If the leak is at the top, it could be from the cold water inlet or hot water outlet pipes, the T&P (temperature and pressure relief) valve, or the anode rod.
    • Bottom of the Tank: A leak at the bottom could indicate a problem with the drain valve or a more serious issue like a tank crack due to corrosion.
  5. Check the Connections and Valves
    • Tighten any loose connections. If the leak is coming from the T&P valve, it might be due to excessive pressure in the tank or a faulty valve. In such cases, replacing the valve may solve the problem.
  6. Inspect for Corrosion
    • Corrosion can cause leaks in the tank itself. If you notice rust or significant corrosion, it may be time to replace your water heater.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

While some minor leaks can be fixed with simple adjustments or part replacements, others may require the expertise of a professional plumber. If you’re unsure about handling the repair yourself, or if the leak persists despite your efforts, it’s best to contact a licensed plumber.

Preventing Future Leaks

  1. Regular Maintenance
    • Schedule annual maintenance checks with Bakersfield Plumbing Company. Regular inspections and flushing the tank can help prevent sediment buildup, which can lead to corrosion and leaks.
  2. Install a Leak Detector
    • A leak detector can alert you to water heater leaks early, minimizing damage and repair costs.
  3. Replace Older Units
    • Water heaters typically last 8-12 years. If your unit is approaching this age, consider replacing it proactively to avoid leaks and inefficiency.

A leaking water heater can be a stressful problem, but with prompt action and the right approach, you can mitigate the damage and restore your hot water supply. At Bakersfield Plumbing Company, we’re here to help with all your water heater needs, from repairs to replacements. Trust our century-long expertise to keep your plumbing system running smoothly. If you’re facing a water heater leak, don’t hesitate to contact us for professional assistance.