What To Do If Your Water Heater Is Leaking?

Leaking water heaters can be a source of stress for homeowners. A leaking water heater not only wastes water but can also lead to damage and increased energy bills. In this guide, we’ll outline what to do if your water heater is leaking, helping you take swift and effective action to resolve the issue.

When it comes to home appliances, few are as vital as your water heater. It ensures you have a ready supply of hot water for showers, cleaning, and more. However, what happens when you discover your water heater is leaking? This can be a cause for concern, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to take if you encounter a leaking water heater.

Identify the Source of the Leak

Identify the source of the leak

When you notice your water heater is leaking, it’s crucial to locate the exact point from which the water is escaping. This information will guide your next steps in addressing the problem.

Evaluate the leak’s severity

Assess how quickly and how much water is leaking from the water heater. Understanding the severity of the leak will help you determine whether it’s an urgent situation or something that can be managed with less urgency.

Classify the type of leak

Water heater leaks come in various forms, such as those caused by pressure relief valve issues or more severe tank ruptures. Classifying the type of leak will help you take appropriate action.

Steps to stop water heating leaking

Turn Off the Power

In the case of an electric water heater, one of the initial safety measures to take when you notice a leak is to turn off the power supply. This should be done at the circuit breaker dedicated to the water heater.

 By cutting the power, you ensure safety during your inspection and any necessary repairs. For gas water heaters, the equivalent action is setting the gas control valve to the “pilot” position.

Shut Off the Water Supply

Before addressing the leak, it’s essential to stop the water supply to the heater. Find the cold water supply valve that connects to your water heater and turn it off. This simple action prevents further water from flowing into the tank and reduces the amount of water that can potentially leak, minimizing the extent of damage.

Drain the Tank

To inspect the water heater thoroughly and address the leak, you’ll need to drain the tank. This process involves attaching a hose to the drain valve located at the base of the heater and directing it to a suitable drainage area, such as a floor drain or outside.

 By opening the drain valve, you can release any remaining water from the tank, making it easier to identify and fix the issue.

Address the Pressure Relief Valve

If the source of the leak is the pressure relief valve, it’s essential to understand its functionality. This safety device is designed to release excess pressure from the tank. During your inspection, you can test the valve by gently lifting its lever.

This should result in hot water being discharged. However, when you release the lever, the flow should stop. If the valve doesn’t perform correctly, it may need to be replaced to prevent leaks.

Inspect the Drain Valve

Leaking from the drain valve can sometimes occur due to loose connections or other issues. As part of your troubleshooting process, inspect the drain valve for any signs of leakage. Ensure that it is tightly closed and secure. 

If you find any issues, such as a loose connection, addressing them promptly can resolve the problem.

Examine the Tank

A critical step in dealing with a leaking water heater is to examine the tank itself. Carefully inspect the tank for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks or corrosion. If you notice any of these issues, it’s a clear indication that the tank itself may be the source of the leak. In such cases, replacing the tank may be necessary to prevent further leakage.

Call a Professional

If you’re unable to identify the source of the leak or if the issue is beyond your ability to repair, it’s advisable to seek the expertise of a professional plumber or a water heater technician. These professionals have the experience and knowledge to diagnose and address water heater issues effectively, ensuring that the problem is resolved correctly.

Preventive Maintenance

Preventing water heater leaks in the future is crucial to ensuring the long-term functionality of your appliance. Regular preventive maintenance is the key. This can include flushing the tank to remove sediment buildup, inspecting various components, and addressing any issues early.

Taking these steps can significantly extend the life of your water heater and reduce the likelihood of future leaks.

Key Points
Identify the Source of the LeakLocate where the water heater is leaking.
Turn Off the PowerDisconnect power for electric or gas water heaters.
Shut Off the Water SupplyStop cold water from entering the tank.
Drain the TankRemove water to assess the issue.
Address the Pressure Relief ValveCheck the valve to ensure it’s functioning correctly.
Inspect the Drain ValveTighten connections and ensure it’s closed securely.
Examine the TankLook for visible signs of damage, such as cracks.
Call a ProfessionalSeek expert help if needed or if you can’t locate the issue.
Preventive MaintenancePerform regular maintenance to prevent future leaks.


Q.How can I tell if my water heater is leaking?
You may notice water around the base of the water heater, hissing or dripping sounds, or a decrease in hot water supply.

Q.Can I fix a leaking water heater myself?

Minor issues like loose connections can be fixed, but major problems require professional assistance.

Q.Is a water heater leak an emergency?
Sudden, significant leaks can lead to flooding, making it an emergency. Shut off power and water, and seek help.

Q.How can I prevent water heater leaks?
Regular maintenance, corrosion checks, controlling water pressure, and tank flushing can prevent leaks.


In conclusion, discovering a leaking water heater can be unsettling, but knowing how to respond is crucial. Whether you resolve the issue yourself or seek professional assistance, addressing it promptly is essential. Preventive maintenance is your best defense against future leaks, ensuring your water heater operates efficiently for years to come.

In conclusion, addressing a leaking water heater is a task that should not be delayed. Swift action is essential to prevent further damage and inconvenience. By following these steps, you can either resolve the issue yourself or contact a professional for assistance.

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