You already have a lot on your plate as a homeowner; the last thing you need is to be concerned about whether or not your malfunctioning washing machine constitutes an emergency. We need to determine whether or not a leak in the water heater includes an emergency. 

This post will explore the question, “Is a leaking water heater an emergency” and how should you go about it?

A leaking water heater is not necessarily something that needs to be dealt with in the middle of the night; however, it should be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent the problem from becoming more severe and expensive. 

What Could Be Causing My Water Heater to Leak?

A faulty installation or components that have worn out can both contribute to leaks in your water heater. 

Here is a list of the possible reasons:

1. The Drain Valve Is Broken 

If a faulty drain valve is the cause of water leaking from your water heater, turn off the water supply, the electricity, and the gas. First, you need to replace the drain valve on the water heater, and then you need to empty the tank. 

Wait an hour before refueling the vehicle to reduce the risk of the fuel tank cracking or rupturing due to the sudden temperature change.

2. Inadequate or Loosened Connections to Pipes

It would be problematic if there were a leak or oxidation at the cold water intake or the hot water output of the unit. You could fix the problem by making the connections more secure or using different fittings. 

If a replacement is necessary, you may contact a plumber to handle the job and inspect the remaining components of the system.

3. Malfunction of the Temperature and Pressure Valve, Also Known as the T&P Valve

This device, one of the many safety features of your water heater, can be found on the side (very close to the top). If water leaks from the connection of the T&P valve, a plumber ought to be contacted.

If the T&P valve operates correctly, it will allow water and steam to escape into the environment. In this instance, reduce the temperature on the thermostat in increments of 10 to 15 degrees until the letting go stops happening. 

4. The Tank

The sediment buildup, advanced age, or temperature shock that your water heater experiences may cause the glass tank to rupture or develop pinhole leaks. If this is the case, you will need to replace the water heater in your home.

What You Should Do if Your Water Heater Develops a Leak

1. Turn off the Valves That Supply Water

Your water heater should have a valve that allows you to control the amount of cold water that enters the unit. If you are dealing with a leaking water heater, you must first turn off the water supply. If there is no water supply, your unit will not produce any water, and you will not be able to use it. 

2. Turn off the Power Supply

After that, disconnect the power supply from your device. To turn off the power on many gas heater models, you have to flip the on/off switch on the heater itself. You may break a switch that controls your water heater in certain circumstances. 

Is a Leaking Water Heater an Emergency

You should consult the owner’s manual for your device before turning it off if you have one handy. After you have turned off the power supply, you will be able to assess the damage, clean up any water that has been spilled, and determine where the water is coming from.

3. Clean up the Water

Before attempting to locate and repair the leak, clean up the leaked water using a wet/dry vacuum, towels, and a dehumidifier. This is important because standing water raises the risk of slipping and injury as well as the risk of electric shock.

4. Locate the Leak

In an emergency involving a water heater, the water lines that lead into and out of the heater, the pressure relief valve, and the drain valve are the points of failure that occur most frequently. Locating the source of the leak will help you decide what steps to take next, which may include contacting a plumber. 

5. Get Professional Help

You can perform the necessary repairs on your water heater. In other circumstances, it is helpful to seek the advice of an authority before deciding. If you are still determining where the leak comes from, your best option is to look for a reputable plumber.

What Could Occur if Your Water Heater Develops a Leak?

Telltale puddles or water drips on the unit’s exterior can identify a water heater leaking. If you observe symptoms similar to these, it is time to contact a qualified plumber. 

Leaks indicate a problem that must be fixed as quickly as possible. It could mean that the unit is about to fail, but it could also mean it just needs routine maintenance. It’s possible that the tank itself is leaking or that one of the valves or connections leading up to it is.

How Long Does a Water Heater Typically Last After a Leak Develops?

Locating the leak’s origin will tell you how long it can continue operating safely. If the drain valve is the only part of the system malfunctioning, the rest should be fine, and you can count on it working reliably for years to come. 

If the tank is the problem, fixing it might be difficult. Rather than putting off replacing an old water heater until it breaks down, you should replace it if it’s over eight to ten years old. 

Is a Leaking Water Heater an Emergency?

It is possible to save yourself and your family tens of thousands of dollars in repair costs by diagnosing and repairing a problem with the water heater yourself, provided that you take the time to do so.

Leaving a water heater unattended while it leaks or otherwise, malfunctions can result in costly repairs, serious injuries, and even death if the heater explodes. 

The following is a list of some of the reasons why a water heater that is leaking is dangerous: 

1. Flooding

A leaking water heater presents a danger because it can cause a flood in the room in which it is kept. The damage to your floor may cost you several thousand dollars. 

2. Increased Risk of Scalding 

Most water heaters are designed to be efficient only in performing one task: heating water. The water will be heated effectively by a leaking water heater, but it will be unusable because it will be too hot to drink. Always exercise extreme caution when near a leaking water heater to avoid getting burned.

3. Possibility of a Gas To Leak or a Fire Risk

Your water heater’s gas valve can develop a gas leak or another problem, which could cause it to leak dangerously and increase the fire risk. If you have any reason to believe this is the case with your leaking water heater, do not delay contacting an HVAC repair service.

Preventing Leaks in Your Water Heater

1. Empty the Tank and Flush It

You should make it a habit of removing and cleaning the water heater tank once every year. The minerals in the water eventually cause sediment to form, which falls to the bottom of your tank over time. 

This sediment forms a layer at the bottom of the tank, which acts as an insulator between the liquid and the burner, causing the burner to operate for a more extended period and at a higher temperature. 

2. Check the Condition of the Anode Rod.

Rust can develop on both water heating systems and steel surfaces over time. The presence of corrosion in a hot water tank is a recipe for disaster in the form of water leaks and possible water damage. Because it is constantly submerged in water, the anode rod in water heating systems hinders corrosion from forming. 

Is a Leaking Water Heater an Emergency

It is not the reservoir of the water heater that rusts but rather what is known as the anode rod, which is a rod of metal that usually ranges in length from three to five feet. The electrode rod in the heating system performs the function of a “canary in the coal mine.”

After the expired warranty, perform a once-yearly inspection of the anode rod to check for corrosion and rusting. Change the anode rods in your battery approximately once every three to five years.

3. Conduct a Test on the T&P Valve.

The water heater’s pressure and temperature relief valve helps ensure the tank does not develop potentially lethal pressure levels. This valve opens on its own and releases the pressure whenever it detects pressure levels that could be hazardous to the system. 

Turn the switch on for five seconds to ensure no water flow restriction. The T&P valve is in good working order if water flows freely after release.

4. Take Care of the Floors

Even if you take all of the necessary safety measures, it is still possible for your water heater to cause damage to your property. Taking precautions to protect the flooring in advance will ensure that any flooding is confined to the area immediately surrounding the water heater. 

At the bottom of the tank, you should position a drain pan, which may also be referred to as a drip pan, so that it can collect any overflow. You will only need a pot or pan with a proper drain built into the bottom of it.

5. Make the Necessary Temperature Changes

Alterations to the thermostat are another method that can be used to lower the pressure in the water heater tank. When exposed to temperatures between hundred and forty degrees to a hundred and forty-five degrees Fahrenheit, tanks have a higher risk of bursting into flames or leaking their contents. 

You will need to experiment with the various settings until you find the “sweet spot,” where the water is sufficiently hot without being so hot that it will damage the tank. You can reduce the amount of money you spend on energy each month by adjusting the temperature setting on your water heater to a lower level.

6. Conduct a Yearly InspectionGet Your Annual Exam

Many different things can go wrong with a water heater, from blown fuses to corroded water mains. 

Employ a licensed plumber to conduct an in-depth assessment once a year so that you can rest assured that all operations will run effectively. This expert will handle some of the servicing responsibilities described above.

Bottom Line

In addition to putting you in danger, a leaking water heater can cause damage to the environment as well as to yourself. Explosions of water heaters, broken heating elements, contaminated water, property damage, mold growth, and, most importantly, electrocution are some potential hazards.