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My Water Heater Is Leaking – Now What?

water heater leak
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I want to spend a little time to discuss an experience most of us had one time or another – a leaking water heater. There are a couple things that you want to do immediately when the leak is discovered.


First, on the copper piping coming into the heater there should be a valve. It could be a round handle or a bar style handle about three inches long. Turn that valve off. We want to stop the water pressure going to the heater which can reduce the leak. In the event that the valve is not present or will not turn, head outside and turn the water off to the whole house. If you do not know how to turn the water off to your home I strongly suggest you get someone to show you as soon as possible. The valve that turns the water off to the house can save you thousands and thousands of dollars in the event of a water emergency.

Okay, next up let’s head to the circuit breaker panel and flip the breaker to the heater off to shut down the electricity to the unit. The reason we want to do that next is very important in the event all of the water drains out of the heater and the elements are still energized. They can cause the tank to catch on fire, which of course could lead to much bigger issues.


The next step is optional depending on your level of handiness. At the bottom of every water heater, there is also another valve with a hose spigot on it. Dig out your trusty garden hose, hook it to that spigot and drain as much water from the heater as will come out. Again, if you are going to do this step make sure the power is off to the water heater so you do not cause bigger issues.


In the top center of the heater there will be a small brass valve about an inch long. This is the temperature and pressure relief valve. It’s original purpose is to allow the water heater to self drain in the event a thermostat malfunctions, causing the water to super heat and the water pressure to become too great for the tank to contain. This safety device prevents water heaters from exploding as they did years ago. (Go to YouTube and search water heater explosions if you have a few minutes to kill, interesting stuff.) If you have hooked the hose up to the heater and it is not draining well, opening this valve can help the heater drain.

Finally, let’s talk about the one thing you should have done as soon as the water and power was killed to our offending heater. You know what’s coming, and that is you should have called us! As I have said in the past, our rolling warehouses have two of the most common water heater sizes on them and we can get you back up and running lickety-split.

This concludes our lesson in water heaters and what to do if they leak, until next time kids remember that most everything is within walking distance if you have the time.

House Whisperer out!!


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