You know the situation: you step into the shower at the end of a long day, turn on the water and not only do you not get any hot water, but suddenly you hear a strange hissing, gurgling sound. For a moment you don’t know what’s going on and then it hits you. That sound is your water heater leaking. You rush to the utility closet to find streams of water gushing out of the hot water heater, possibly flooding rooms nearby. This is not a pleasant situation in which to find yourself.
A water heater leaking is not always that dramatic. Sometimes it is just a trickle, or a small stream. Even if it seems minor, a leaky water heater is not something that should be ignored. A water heater leaking can cause lack of hot water, property damage and large expenses. It is possible, however, to fix a leaking water heater if you catch the problem early enough.
Water Heater Leaking – Identifying the Problem
The first step in fixing a leaking water heater is to identify the cause of your hot water heater leaking. You must evaluate the water heater to determine from where the water is leaking. Is there a rupture in the actual water tank or is the water just seeping from the fittings around the pipes?
Figuring this out starts with understanding the construction of a hot water heater. The outer portion of a hot water heater is basically a large metal tube. It is connected to water pipes, and electricity or gas as the actual heating fuel. Sometimes a hot water heater leaking is caused by simple rusting or wear-and-tear of the metal outer part. If this is the case, there is no repair that will make the hot water heater functional or safe. This is the time for a hot water heater replacement. Inside this metal casing is the actual water tank.
The tank is a sealed unit inside the heater. It is generally made from glass, which makes it highly durable, but it does occasionally rupture. If this is the cause of your water heater leaking you need to purchase a new water heater. A ruptured tank simply can’t be fixed. If the water is leaking from the pipes that go in or out of the heater, you are probably capable of fixing it on your own. It may be a result of loose fittings or a pressure relief valve that need to be replaced.
Water Heater Leaking – Preparing to Fix the Problem
When you notice your water heater leaking and decide to fix it yourself, you must be prepared to avoid a messy and dangerous situation. Before you begin you should collect all of the tools and materials you will need. This includes a wrench, towels, a bucket and some plumbing thread. Once all of these items are collected you need to shut down the heater. Because a water heater is an electric appliance it is essential that you cut off power to it before attempting to fix it. Make sure that everyone knows that you are working on the water heater so that no one decides to switch the breaker back on and accidentally gives you a nasty shock. If applicable, shut off the gas that connects to the heater. To prevent inconvenient flooding, close the water inputs. After the water heater is successfully turned off, drain the tank.
Once the tank is drained you can dry all of the fittings to prepare them for repair. Ensure that the pressure release valve is intact and functioning. If it is not, replace it. Check and tighten all fitting and make sure that all of the pipes are strong. Once you have done all of these repairs, turn the water back on and check that everything is working properly. If the water heater leaking has stopped, you have successfully made a repair and saved the hassle and cost of hiring a repairman!
Getting a Hot Water Heater Replacement
Sometimes even the most valiant of repair intentions just can’t cover up the real need for a hot water heater replacement. These devices need to be changed out occasionally just like anything else. If your water heater has reached the end of its life, the best course of action to ensure that your replacement is installed safely and effectively is to just go ahead and hire a professional. A professional hot water heater installer will be able to remove the leaking water heater, evaluate if the pipes and fittings are all still in good working order. If they aren’t he will replace them as he is replacing the water heater. If you are filled with the industrious spirit, or just don’t want to face the added expense of hiring someone to do the job for you, you can put in your hot water heater replacement yourself.
Hot Water Heater Replacement
The first step in this project is to remove the old water heater. This starts with the same safety precautions of disconnecting the electricity and gas as repairing a water heater. You should have chosen a replacement device that uses the same fuel type, whether it is electricity or gas, as your previous heater. This makes installment much easier. If for some reason you want to change fuel types you will most definitely require the help of a professional. After you have removed the old heater determine if all of the pipes, inlets, connectors and fitting are in place and in good condition. If they are not they will need to be replaced in order for your water heater to function well and be safe.
Consulting a diagram can help when positioning and connecting your new water heater to ensure that you are doing it correctly. When you feel that you have everything in place, turn the water and fuel source back on and give it a trial run. If it works correctly you have succeeded in your hot water heater replacement and, again, saved yourself money in the process.
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