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Why is my water heater leaking and how can it be fixed?

Image of a hot water tank leaking

The average person uses about 80-100 gallons of water, per day. That's for showers, gardening, washing dishes, washing clothes, preparing food, and drinking.

But, when a water heater is broken, you'll likely feel the effects immediately. Your water may be lukewarm or plain cold. There may be low water pressure or certain spots in your home may have more of a flow than others.

All-in-all, it's a major inconvenience that needs to get resolved right away. And one of the major indicators that there is an issue: is a puddle surrounding the water heater.

But what causes a water heater to leak? Let's dive in to all the answers to your water heater questions.

Identifying a water heater leak.

Water heater leakage can be subtle, from a few drips, to entire puddling around your unit. If there's a trickle of water, trace it back to its source.

If the water surrounding the unit is small, or barely noticeable, you'll need to spend some time investigating. While it's not uncommon for water heaters to leak, other water sources could have played a factor.

Come back to the water heater every few hours. If the water has evaporated and the area around the heater seems dry, the water may have come from another source.

If, however, there continues to be a small amount of water pooling around the heater, it's likely you have a leak. Which leads to the next question…

Why is my water heater leaking and what causes a water heater to leak?


There are many reasons why a water heater may be leaking. It is important to remember to always consult a professional when investigating potential repairs for a leaky water heater.

A leaky valve.

The first step is to check the drain valve at the base of the water heater. This is  a small valve that should resemble an outdoor valve, one you would attach a garden hose to.

Check to see if the valve is loose. If it is, the home service professional assisting you will tighten it, and check after some time to see if it starts leaking again. If there's no water leakage, it's possible the valve was bumped sometime in the previous days, loosening it.

High-pressured tank.

The next factor to consider is the pressure of your water tank. Too much pressure can cause damage to the unit, leading to leaking.

There are a few ways to check the pressure on a water heater. A water heater is meant to store pressure and usually will regulate around 150-pounds per square inch. Your tank should have a relief valve, made of brass or bronze, with a small test lever attached.

Typically, a CPVC drain line will be attached to the valve. A professional will feel along the relief valve drain line. It should feel cool except at the connection point with the valve, where it will be hot. If the drain line is also hot, the relief valve is open and needs replacement immediately.

Next, the technician will lift the test lever on the pressure relief valve. A small amount of water and steam should release. If the lever cannot be lifted, or the valve doesn't release water or steam, then the valve needs to be replaced.

Age of the water heater.

Finally, note the age of your water heater, as it is a major contributor to unit failure and leakage. The older a unit is, the more likely it will need full-on repairs or potentially replacing.

On average, water heaters last from 8-13 years. Well-maintained water heaters can last longer, potentially doubling that lifespan. Water heaters often have their ages included in them, but not always in the same place. It is important to keep the age of your water heater in mind and decide when would be a good time to replace your water heater.

What to do if your water heater is leaking.


leak of a single drip can cost $35 a year and will waste nearly 1,660 gallons of water. If you have a leak that drips once per second, you'll waste 8.64 gallons of water per day, over 3,150 gallons of water per year.

If your tank is leaking, you need to get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible by a professional. Here are a few preliminary steps for what to do when your water heater leaks.

If your water heater is quite new, it may be under warranty. Call the service number located on the unit if this is the case.

If the drain valve is leaking, you'll likely need to drain the tank and replace the entire valve. Contacting a professional is your best bet for this fix.

If the leaking is bad, you can shut off the water heater entirely. Of course, if your leak is this severe, we recommend you contact a professional immediately for assistance.

Where to go for water heater repairs and services. 

If your water heater is leaking from the bottom then leave it to the professionals at Petro Home Services for repairs.

We're equipped for repairing water heaters both big and small. Petro services communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Our team of experts is ready to help you 24/7, to help get your home back in working order.

If you have additional questions, contact Petro for sales at 888.735.5651 and services at 800.645.4328. We perform water heater repairs, water heater services, and replace and reinstall new water heaters.