So your water heater is leaking from the top? Well, first off, relax. A leak at the top of your water heater is typically a much easier (and cheaper) fix than a leak at the bottom of your tank. But only if you find and fix the leak quickly!
So, what’s causing your water heater to leak water from the top? Well the most likely causes include:
Let’s look at some of the steps you can take to determine which of these is your problem and how you can fix the leak.
Not interested in playing detective? Just contact us and we can locate and fix the leak in no time!
To be safe, turn off the gas or electricity to the water heater before you start tinkering with it.
Note: Turn off the water supply to the heater and dry the area as much as possible. You might need to let it sit for a while for water to seep out of small crevices around the connections. This will allow you to see the direction from which the water is coming when you turn the water back on. With slow leaks and standing water around the connections, you may not be able to see where the water is coming from.
If you have a gas water heater, turn the gas valve to the OFF position. This valve is located on the water heater itself. You’ll also want to make sure that the ball valve on the gas piping connected to the heater is turned at a 90-degree angle (perpendicular to the piping).
Note: You will have to relight the pilot light once the leak is fixed and you are ready to use the water heater again. Follow the manufacturer’s lighting instructions in the owner’s manual (some models may have these instructions on the side of the water heater).
If you have an electric water heater, you’ll shut the power off at the electrical panel. Just look for a two-pole breaker labelled “water heater” and turn it to the OFF position.
Note: Before restoring power to an electric water heater, make sure that the tank is completely full of water. Otherwise, you can damage the heating elements inside the tank. The easiest way to do this is to turn the water valve on to the water heater then open the hot side of the bathtub valve and let it run full blast for a couple of minutes. This will remove any air within the water heater tank, eliminating any chance of damage to the heating elements.
First, you’ll want to turn the water back on and watch carefully for where the water is coming from.
The most common leaky areas at the top of a water heater include:
Use the pictures below to identify your leaky component then match it with the solution given in Step 3.
This valve delivers water to your water heater to be heated. If the valve sits directly over your heater and has gone bad, it will drip water onto the top of the tank.
Check all the connections on the top of the water heater. If any connection, such as the hot and cold water valves, is loose, it will leak water. Look for corroded parts (either in the form of rust buildup or a whitish powder substance or both) as this is a sign of leakage.
Your water heater’s T&P relief valve (temperature and pressure relief valve), is a safety component that releases extremely hot water when your tank exceeds the preset temperature or pressure limits. Depending on your water heater model, this valve could be located on the side or the top of your water heater.
If your valve is located on the top of your water heater (like in the picture below), check to see where it’s leaking from. Two places it may be leaking from include:
Your anode rod is a long, thin rod that attracts all the corrosive elements in the water in order to prevent your water heater tank from corroding. But if the anode rod corrodes and isn’t replaced quickly, water will bubble up and leak through the port seen in the picture below.
Many water heaters have an expansion tank installed on or over the top of them. This is a secondary safety device that absorbs excess hot water that occurs during the heating process.
This tank can leak from any of the following 3 areas:
If you notice that the water seems to be coming from the tank itself, there’s likely a tiny crack or hole in the top of the water heater. Unfortunately, that means the inner tank is corroding from the inside out and you’ll need to replace it as soon as possible. Often, if the tank is leaking, you’ll also see water bubbling up from the anode rod port.
Now that you’ve determined what’s leaking, let’s take a look at how to repair your leak.
If you need help repairing your water heater leak, we’re here to help.
Just contact us today and we’ll send over a qualified plumber.