Darn. Your hot water heater is leaking. But it can be quite expensive to call the electric/gas company to have it fixed. If you have the right tools and accurate information, repairing a hot water heater leak is not as difficult as it may seem. The problem is usually spraying, flooding, or dripping. Here is a step-by-step outline of how to easily fix your leak.
If the water is spraying outward, the most likely culprit somehow involves the pressure. In this case, there are three options: 1. Leak inside of the tank, 2. Pipes are leaking, or, 3. Pipes supplying water are leaking.
Spraying from the tank - Turn off the valve above the heater, which usually takes the form of a yellow lever.
Commercial pipes are spraying - First, shut off the valve that operates the stream to the broken pipe. Then apply a pipe repair clamp to the pipe. Finally, replace the pipe itself.
Supply pipes are spraying - Right away, switch off the water supply by rotating its valve clockwise. The valve, usually red, is normally located close to the cold water pipe or next to the heater itself.
If the issue is flooding, it probably comes from either inside of the tank or the heating element gasket.
Leak inside of the tank - Immediately empty the hot water from it. To flush a tank, turn off the gas valve or electrical power. Then, close the water intake valve and fasten a hose to the drain valve (in the back of the tank), connecting it to an outside drain or bucket. Finally, open the drain valve and turn on a hot faucet, and drain the water. In this case, there is probably corrosion inside of the tank, which is hard to deal with. Call a repairman to replace the tank.
Heating element gasket - Occasionally the flooding can come from the gasket. To fix this, shut off the electrical power (only for electric heaters) and supply valve, and drain the tank as previously outlined. Then, remove the heating element's access cover and clean the surface of the gasket, ridding it of all of the accrued sediment and gunk. Replace the gasket.
If the leak takes the form more of a drip, than a spray or flood, the problem is less serious, but water will slowly escape, over time, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the heater. Here the first step is to ascertain where the drip is originating. Commonly, drips come from the pressure-release valve, which is manufactured to release water when there is too much pressure in the tank. It is located on the top of the tank near the hot water outlet or electric supply. Often, too much pressure comes from high temperatures, or too much water being supplied. The other typical source of dripping is the drain valve. If liquid is dripping from either the pressure-release or drain valve, tighten it to secure the leak. If this does not work, the valve itself may need to be replaced.