Experiencing a water heater leaking from the top may be inconvenient and frustrating, especially if you are unsure what's the source of the leak and how to stop it. If you don't fix the leak as soon as possible, you may experience more issues, such as possible electrical shorts in your heater and water damage to everything in your home. However, you should not assume that you won't have to replace the entire unit.
Luckily, a water heater leaking from the top is almost always a repairable scenario if you detect your leak swiftly. Here is a guide on what to do to stop your water heater leaks!
Firstly, you should examine the water input and output fittings thoroughly. Water leaks frequently here, and you can usually spot them where the fittings connect to the water heater. You can try to tighten the fittings by using a wrench. Your issue might be resolved by entirely stopping the leak using this.
Additionally, rusting is frequent in this location. The best way to combat corrosion is to replace the fittings. Unless your fittings are made of copper, in this case joining them with solder is nearly always the job of a qualified plumber.
Faulty Inlet/Outlet Valve
It's a solid indication that your outlet or inlet pipe is leaking if you notice water collecting on top of your water heater. If you are fortunate, there will only be a loose fitting around the pipe, in which case you only need to tighten the nuts holding the handle to the fitting.
If you tighten the nuts and the valve still leaks, it is likely that the valve is now entirely broken and needs to be replaced.
Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
At the top of the water heater tank is where you will find the temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P). When the tank's pressure builds up too high, this safety feature is activated. Steam will release once it is activated, letting the pressure restore to normal.
You must take out the valve and install a new one if you notice water dripping from the threads.
If you feel confident to handle this issue, start by shutting off the water supply to the water heater and emptying the tank until the water level is below the valve. Open a neighboring hot water valve so that air can enter the tank. Grab your channel lock tool, then release the valve's screw. Look for corrosion when you thoroughly inspect your valve and tank. It is time to replace your entire unit if you discover rust in it.
If your tank is more recent, there presumably won't be any corrosion and you won't have to replace the tank, but you will need to reinstall your T&P valve after wrapping the threads in Teflon tape.
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