Depending upon where you live can determine where your water heater is located. In most cases, a water heater is either in your basement or in the garage of the home. The water heater is not something that you think of inspecting often, due to the nature of the appliance. As long as hot water is coming in when you need that nice shower, typically the water heater is out of sight and out of mind.
You should consider inspecting the water heater regularly, this can save you time and money. Noticing a leak to your water heater doesn’t mean a total unit needs replacing. Can you still use water if water heater is leaking? Depending on the type of water heater, yes you can use water if your water heater leaks. Gas water heaters and electric water heaters require different approaches when it comes to leaks. Drain the water and shut off the power to prevent extra water damage is your best approach.
Let’s take a look below at what might cause a leak and what we can do about it.
What Causes The Leak
Water leaks in the water heater are not uncommon. Typically, they are a clear indication that your water heater should be maintained or replaced. Here are some areas that will cause a leak.
- Aging-most water tanks can last up to ten years without any damage or need for repairs. However, all of this depends on the environmental factors that come with where you live. Colder and freezing temps can reduce the longevity of your water heater. Keep track of your yearly maintenance of the water heater.
- Inlets and Outlets-check your cold water inlets and hot water outlets to make sure they aren’t leaking. Both areas are susceptible to damage and should be checked on yearly.
- Pressure relief valve and temperature gauge-these two parts of the water heater can malfunction at any time. If your water heater increases in temperature too quickly the pressure relief valve and temperature gauge could be damaged. Any type of damage to either of these parts will lead to a leaking water heater.
- Drain valve-anytime you see a valve associated with an appliance, there is always a potential for a leak. In this case, a drain valve will drip to allow the sediment to escape from the water heater. However, if you notice more than a drip from the drain valve, there is a cause for concern. Drain the tank and see if the problem persists.
- Tank itself-if the tank itself is the location of the leak, you will notice a flood more so than a leak. It is time to turn off the electricity to the tank and call on a plumber to come and replace it.
How Can I Tell There Might Be A Problem
There are some pretty obvious signs that your hot water heater tank is leaking or at the very least should inspect your water heater condition. Let’s look at the list of areas that are the most obvious signs.
- Water quality-anytime you have a water quality change, especially in regards to temperature, you should inspect the water heater. In addition to temperature changes, check for the color of water and if sediment is coming through in the water. The unusual smells or taste of the water is a clear indication of an issue with your water heater.
- Outside water heater – while checking the water heater you notice some rust spots around the external screws and sidewall of where water typically could come out. Rust is a clear indication that water has leaked somewhere and your water heater should be replaced.
- Noisy water heater-harden sediment that has built up over time will create some noise as the water heater is activated. Those sediment rocks essentially bounce around off the walls and internal components of the water heater. This is another clear indicator that it is time for a new water heater.
- Puddles are forming-water puddles leaking from the bottom that have formed under and around the water heater are clear indications of a leak. This must be addressed or your tank will continue to malfunction.
At this point, if you notice a leak, the power from the circuit breaker should be turned off. You can also turn off the water supply to the water heater at this time. If you have a gas water heater, you will want to open up the doors and windows to get rid of any carbon monoxide that may have built up in the home.
How Much Does It Cost
A repair or replacement of a water heater can cost around $1,300 to $5,500. Typically, gas water heaters can cost you $1,000 to $3,000 for repairs and replacement. The monthly average cost for a gas water heater is $36.50. The monthly average cost of an electric gas water heater is $46.50.
Other Recommended Maintenance
While we are on the topic of water heaters, did you know that maintenance is required on the water heater? Conducting maintenance on the water heater allows it to last longer. Maintenance can involve the following, flushing it, adjusting the temperature and resetting, turning it off and back on, and checking the drain valve.
Another area associated with your water heater involves the internal parts. If the anode rod goes bad inside the water heater you likely will not have hot water. It is important to understand this part of the water heater so that you are aware of when to call on a professionally licensed plumbing contractor.
Finally, while the other parts are being inspected on your water heater, make sure that the thermostat is also inspected. A thorough inspection can save you time and money down the road.
When Should I Call A Professional
Anytime there is a water concern in the home, it is a great idea to also reach out to your local home inspection team. The local home inspection team can refer you to a professionally licensed plumbing contractor. The contractor can assist you with your concerns regarding using water while the water heater leaks. A replacement water heater is likely needed. Before calling on the wrong plumbing contractor, reach out to the local home inspection team and learn all of your options in terms of your water heater needs. In this case, a reputable professionally licensed plumber.
Anytime you are doing plumbing upgrades or repairs, you should contact your local home inspection team. They will refer you to various local professionally licensed plumbing contractors. These contractors can give quotes on the installation of a new water heater if that’s what is needed. Check out our home inspection services in the Jacksonville, Area!