Floor view of a white water heater leaking with two wrenches lying on the ground.

Why is My Water Heater Leaking?

A leaking water heater can be a frustrating problem to deal with. Not only can it cause water damage to your home, but it can also lead to higher energy bills and a shorter lifespan for your water heater.

Let’s look a little deeper into why your water heater may be leaking, what you can do before calling a plumber, and what to do when you do call a plumber. Having a general idea and knowing a few of the plumbing symptoms will come in handy before you make that call to a professional.

Why is my water heater leaking?

There are several reasons why your water heater may be leaking. The most common cause is a leak in the tank itself. Over time, the tank can corrode and develop small holes or cracks, which can lead to water leaking out. Also one of the connectors may have cracked and that is something that can be hard to see at first glance.

Another possible cause is a faulty pressure relief valve. This valve is designed to release pressure from the tank when it becomes too high, but if it is malfunctioning, it may release water instead. There are more than a handful of reasons a leak can happen so a little quick investigating may be necessary.

A few possible causes for a leaking water heater could be:

• Loose or damaged drain valves
• A buildup of sediment in the tank
• High water pressure
• Improper installation

What Can I Do Before Calling a Plumber?

If you notice that your water heater is leaking, there are a few things you can do before calling a plumber. Just like when you lose electrical power in your home, having a good checklist of things to do to help you in these situations is a must.

1. First, turn off the power supply to your water heater. If you have an electric water heater, turn off the circuit breaker that supplies power to it. If you have a gas water heater, turn off the gas supply.

2. Next, turn off the water supply to the water heater. This will help prevent any further water from entering the tank and potentially causing more damage. You can usually find the shut-off valve near the top of the tank.

3. Once you have turned off the power and water supply, you can try to determine the cause of the leak. If the leak is coming from the tank itself, there is not much you can do to fix it on your own. However, if the leak is coming from a loose or damaged drain valve, you may be able to tighten it or replace it yourself.

If you suspect that the pressure relief valve is the cause of the leak, you can try to manually release some of the pressure from the tank. This may help the valve to reset and stop the leak. However, if the valve is still leaking after you have released some of the pressure, it will need to be replaced.

What To Do When You Call a Plumber?

If you have tried to troubleshoot the problem yourself and the water heater is still leaking or there seem to be mounting issues, it is time to call a plumber.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you make the call:

• Explain the problem: Be as specific as you can about what is happening with your water heater. Let the plumber know if the leak is coming from the tank, a valve, or somewhere else.

• Provide information: If you can, provide the plumber with information about your water heater, such as the make and model number, age, and any previous repairs or maintenance.

• Ask for an estimate: Before the plumber starts any work, it’s okay to ask for an estimate of the cost. Although your plumbing professional may not be able to give a solid cost without investigating the issue, often there is a baseline number to expect and understanding that the depth of the issue determines what the actual cost may be. At the very least, you should always at least get a quote and estimate once the technician has diagnosed the issue. Hopefully this will help you avoid any surprises when you receive the bill.

• Consider replacement: If your water heater is old and has been repaired multiple times, it may be time to consider replacing it instead of repairing it. A plumber can help you look at the cost of fixing versus replacing and determine if replacement is the best option.
When the plumber arrives, they will likely inspect the water heater and determine the cause of the leak. Depending on the problem, they may need to replace a valve, repair a crack in the tank, or recommend replacing the entire unit.

What Should I Look For In A leaking Water Heater?

A leaking or broken water heater can cause various symptoms, including:

1. Water on the floor: One of the most common symptoms of a leaking water heater is the presence of water on the floor. If you notice standing water around the base of the water heater, it is likely that the tank is leaking.

2. Discolored water: If you turn on the hot water and notice that the water is discolored, it could be a sign that the tank is rusting and corroding. This could be due to a leak or a broken component within the tank.

3. Strange noises: If your water heater is making strange noises like popping, cracking, or hissing sounds, it could be a sign that the tank has a buildup of sediment that is causing it to overheat and eventually break down.

4. Lack of hot water: If you are not getting enough hot water, or the water is not as hot as it should be, it could be a sign that the heating element or thermostat within the water heater has malfunctioned or failed.

5. Higher than usual utility bills: If you notice a sudden spike in your utility bills, it could be a sign that your water heater is not working efficiently, which could be due to a leak or a broken component.


If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to turn off the water supply to the heater as soon as possible and call a professional plumber to inspect the unit and make any necessary repairs or replacements.

A leaking water heater can be a frustrating problem to deal with, but it is important to address it as soon as possible to prevent further damage. With these tips and a better understanding of what to expect, we hope you won’t go through any of the stress of a situation like this alone. Please give Plumbing Doctor® a call for any further assistance. We would love to help make your plumbing experience easier!