Causes of Water Heater Leaking And Its Prevention

Causes of water heater leaking and its prevention

Where a running water heater makes winters more comfortable, a faulty one can cause even more damage to your daily life. When you come home and see the water heater leaking, it’s a huge nuisance that must be dealt wisely. You cannot ignore water heater leaking because that can result in short-circuiting, damaged floor/walls, and a huge replacement cost.

If you find the causes and preventions of water heater leaking, it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Most water heaters have an average age of 10-15 years; you’ll need a replacement after that. But during this time, certain factors can damage your heater.

Some water heater leaking causes can be fixed at home, while others require professional services. To know what you should do with your leaking water heater, read on and find the answer.

What Are The Weak Areas Which Cause Water Heater Leaking?

A heater doesn’t start leaking overnight; there is mostly a build up behind this trouble. Sometimes a shaky valve causes leakage, while other times, a broken joint can be the culprit. Let’s list down these causes first:

Drain valve

Drain valve maintenanceThe drain valve is located at the bottom of a heater, which separates sediment from water. This valve works efficiently and drains all sizeable impurities, eventually improving the hot water’s quality. With time this sediment build-up can break the drain valve’s seal, which results in water dripping.

To maintain a drain valve’s well-being, you must clean it twice a year. This cleaning haul prolongs its life and provides you with clean water alongside. When you plan to clean it, turn on the power supply and heat up the water. Once it’s hot enough, turn off the energy while draining water from this valve; you can also use a small cleaning brush to scrape any remaining sediment.


Old water heaters leak from the bottom when their valve cannot function anymore and affect the floor underneath them.

If your heater’s valve is leaking, notice where the water is seeping from. If it’s coming from the nozzle which connects the valve and the heater, you’ll need to tighten it. Doing so is easy with the help of a pipe wrench.

But, if a heater’s valve is leaking from its base, a replacement is a must. Completely drain your water heater and put on a new drain valve to prevent future inconvenience. You can get a professional on-board if you aren’t familiar with replacing valves because that’ll save your money and time.

Pressure relief valve

Pressure relief valveA T/P valve is located on top of water heaters, which doesn’t let the water heat beyond a set limit. When you unknowingly forget to turn off the heater, this valve makes sure the water doesn’t heat to an extreme extent. The T/P valve releases some of the hot water to reduce the inside pressure and protects the boiler from exploding. After continuous usage, a valve can get displaced or weak at its joint, eventually causing water heater leaking from the top.

If you have recently changed this relief valve, tighten its base with a wrench, and observe if the leakage continues. If it’s stopped, your heater is good to go.


First, turn off the power supply to your heater and close its cold water inlet for a while because that’ll help you locate the point of fault.

If water is leaking from the base of a T/P valve, the sediment accumulated inside it would be the reason. You can drain some hot water through this valve and put it back on; it’ll probably be fine.

But if the amount of dripping water is a lot, the best way to remedy this situation is to replace the temperature and pressure relief valve.

Water inlets and outlets

These are the most common areas of water leakage from a heater. The inlet of cold water and outlet of warm water are closely located, which often causes friction between them. However, that’s not the main reason for the water heater leaking from the bottom. Water drips from supply lines because of their flexible joints.


Since these pipes are insulated, they cannot maintain a grip for long, and start loosening with time. If your inlet/outlet pipes have weak bases, tighten them with a valve wrench or change them.

Sometimes improper sealing and excessive water heating can damage these pipes, causing nonstop water seepage. Since these supply pipes move across your walls, make sure they never leak because that can destroy your paint and ceiling.


This is where the real trouble begins. If your heater’s tank is leaking, it’s time to invest in a better unit. The sediment in water gathers at the bottom of the heater and corrodes its surface. This accumulation doesn’t initially affect its thick base, but it scrapes off the metal with time.

The factor which makes tank leaking the worst is that it causes flooding at the floor instead of minor dripping. Your heater won’t retain water and spill it directly on the floor, causing several different issues.


One word answer, replacement. A hole in your heater’s base cannot be fixed; it will only get worst. That’s why don’t put any more effort into a leaking tank, get a new unit.

Rubber gaskets

Rubber gaskets SolutionWater heaters have heating elements inside, which are covered with rubber gaskets/covers to prevent corrosion. Although very rare, these gaskets can also cause water heater leaking from the bottom.


You’ll have to open the whole unit and inspect if these gaskets are fixable. If yes, call a plumber and get these rubber bases replaced.

Final words

Water heater leaking isn’t uncommon, and all of us have to go through this trouble once in a while. If your new or moderately used water heater has started acting mad, don’t lose your cool. Identify the point it’s leaking from, and act accordingly. When you timely repair a water heater, it will surely save you from running behind the plumbers after things get serious.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the causes of sediment accumulation in water heaters?

Groundwater has several minerals, metallic components, and dust particles that must be filtered. All water heaters are designed to retain this sediment and supply clean water to your home. But, when a filter/drainer is used exhaustively, it accumulates sediment at a heater’s base.

2. Why does a water heater leak from the top? 

There is a T/P valve and cold water inlets on top of a heater, which are prone to leakages. When an inexperienced person fits your supply pipes or does minor repairs, the heater soon starts leaking. Moreover, continuous usage and overheating also result in broken pipe joints that lead to leakages.

3. Do I need a heater pan? 

A heater pan is a large metallic pot/frame used to hold any water leakage/spillage. If your heater is being exhaustively used, it’d surely get overheated and might face some overflowing. You can opt for a heater pan to contain that excessive water, but make sure to regularly clean and empty this pot.