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Sweetwater Plumbing Blog

How Much Water Should Be Leaking from the Water Heater?

water-dropletsA water heater that leaks is almost always a problem. If you have a tank water heater and you notice water is pooling around the base, it’s time to call for a licensed professional plumber to look at the system and find out what’s wrong. Leaking water can indicate a number of major problems that require repairs or, in some cases, a full replacement of the water heater.

However, there is an important exception, which we’ll talk about below.

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

Yes, there’s one place on a storage tank water heater where you may see water dripping on occasion, and it’s normal. It’s the temperature and pressure (T&P) valve. This valve is located near the base of the tank of the water heater and is designed to relieve pressure at 150 psi and temperatures at 210°F.

During the regular operation of a water heater, a buildup of pressure or temperature in the tank that causes the water to expand is relieved by having the water travel back up the cold water inlet pipe. Think of it as if the municipal water supply is serving as an expansion tank to cushion the increase in pressure.

But, if there is a check valve on the inlet pipe, the pressure in the tank wouldn’t have anywhere to go. In this case, the T&P valve opens up to allow a bit of water to drip out and fix the problem. You may notice some drops of water around the valve, and this is just the vale doing its job.

If you see large amounts of water from the valve, it’s possible the valve is wearing down and needs to be replaced. You can have a plumber handle this for you easily. The plumber might find that the water heater is developing too much pressure, and may need to add on an expansion tank to help relieve the pressure.

For All Other Leaks—Get Help Right Away!

Leaks in other parts of the plumbing are often warning of extreme high water pressure. Leaks can spring up at connection points because of the water pressure rise. When the pressure is this bad, the whole water heater may be at risk.

Another common cause for leaks is corrosion. Water heaters have a number of defenses against corrosion, such as a sacrificial anode rod and glass interiors. But corrosion will catch up with a water heater if enough years go by. Once over 15 to 20 years old, a water heater may begin to corrode and allow leaking. Although corrosion on parts such as the heat exchanger can sometimes be fixed by replacing the parts (if caught early enough), usually corrosion means it’s time to get a new water heater.

If you need questions answered about water heaters in Corona, CA or elsewhere in Southern California, call on our expert team. We work with all types of water heaters (tank, tankless, heat pump), and we can take care of whatever repairs and replacements are necessary.

Need fast water heater repairs? Sweetwater Plumbing offers 24-hour emergency service—we’re always open for business!

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