Why Is My Water Heater Leaking? (10+ Tips for Water Damage)

When it comes to household catastrophes, water damage can quickly jump to the top of the list in terms of urgency and stress. The water heater, although often taken for granted, can be a key culprit in such situations. A leaking water heater is an issue that demands quick action, yet many homeowners are not well-versed in the first steps to take when the unthinkable happens. The only thing most homeowners can do is ask, “Why is my water heater leaking?”

Inside This Blog:

  • Signs of a leaking water heater
  • The causes of water tank leaks
  • Immediate steps to take

Now, without further ado, it’s time to equip you with the knowledge to take control of this critical home maintenance issue.

why is my water heater leaking

Signs of a Leaking Water Heater

Your water heater is often a silent servant, tucked away in a corner or closet, doing its job day in and day out. But when it starts to leak, it can turn your world upside down. Here are some warning signs to keep an eye out for:

1. Water Pooling Around the Unit

One of the most evident cues of a water heater leak is, quite simply, water. If you notice puddles or dampness around the base of your water heater, the unit is likely failing and should not be ignored.

2. Rust-Colored Water When Discharging

A clear glass of water drained from the hot tap can sometimes reveal rusty or cloudy water. This is a red flag signaling that your water heater’s interior is corroding, possibly causing leaks.

3. Strange Noises or Whistling

Unusual sounds like rumbling, banging, or a consistent whistle can indicate that the pressure in your water heater tank is too high, potentially causing leaks through the overflow pipe.

4. A Corroded or Wet Casing

If you see visible signs of corrosion on the outside of your water heater or feel moisture on the tank’s surface, this could be a sign of an internal leak.

5. A Sudden Drop in Hot Water Availability

If you notice that you’re running out of hot water much faster than normal or that the water temperature fluctuates, a leak could be slowly draining your hot water reserves.

6. Higher Water Bills

A leak, even a slow one, can cause a surprising spike in your water bill. Be vigilant about your utility costs and seek the cause if you see an unexplained increase.

Keeping an observant eye on your water heater can help you catch leaks early and prevent further damage to your home.

Understanding the Causes

Water heater leaks can stem from a variety of issues—from commonplace maintenance neglect to more serious equipment failures. Here are some common causes of a leaking water heater:

Age and Wear

Water heaters have an expected lifespan of around 10-15 years. Over time, the tank materials can weaken, and components can deteriorate, leading to leaks and other malfunctions.

Sediment Buildup

Water contains minerals that, when heated, can precipitate out and settle at the bottom of the tank. Over time, this can create a layer of sediment that accelerates corrosion and reduces the heater’s efficiency, possibly leading to leaks.

High Pressure

Excessive water pressure can strain a water heater, causing it to leak at the seals. A pressure relief valve will discharge water if the pressure becomes too high, and this mechanism can be a telltale sign of an underlying issue.


The most common type of corrosion in water heaters is an electrochemical process that occurs when the tank’s steel reacts with the water. The corrosion can create tiny holes in the tank, leading to leaks.

leaking water heater with tools

Immediate Steps To Take

Reacting swiftly when you suspect a water heater leak can mean the difference between a costly repair and a catastrophic flood. These practical steps can minimize damage and ensure your safety:

Turn Off the Power Supply

Before you take any further action, it’s crucial to turn off the electricity or gas supply to your water heater. This will eliminate any immediate fire or electrical hazards.

Shut off the Water

Find the cold water inlet pipe atop your water heater, and turn the handle clockwise until it’s tight. This will stop the flow of water into the tank and prevent further damage.

Drain the Water Heater

With the power and water cutoffs in place, attach a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve and open it to release the water. Doing this will not only prevent further leaks but can also help in diagnosing the problem.

Ventilate the Area

Leaks can lead to mold growth, especially in warm, damp areas. Increase air circulation using fans and open windows if possible, to dry out the space quickly and reduce the likelihood of mold.

Taking these immediate steps can buy you valuable time while you assess the situation and make more permanent repairs.

Preventive Maintenance Tips

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this adage holds true for water heaters. These maintenance tips can extend the life of your water heater:

Flush the Tank

Sediment is the silent killer of water heaters. Flushing the tank once a year can rid it of calcium deposits and other minerals, reducing the risk of leaks and improving heating efficiency.

Check the Anode Rod

This aluminum or magnesium rod sacrifices itself to protect the tank from corrosion. Inspect it annually and replace it if it’s worn down to six inches or less.

Test the T&P Valve

The temperature and pressure relief (T&P) valve is designed to release pressure and prevent the tank from exploding. Test it once a year by quickly discharging it a few times to ensure it’s functioning properly.

Inspect for Moisture and Rust

Regularly examine the area around your water heater for any signs of moisture and inspect the tank for signs of rust or corrosion, inside and out.

Maintain a Clear Area

Keep the space around your water heater uncluttered to allow for proper ventilation and easy access. This will make both maintenance and problem detection simpler.

The Leak-Proof Future

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to overlook your appliances until something goes awry. Your water heater is no exception, and vigilant maintenance of this important appliance is a homeowner’s responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

If you’ve encountered a water heater leak, we urge you to contact the professionals at Allphase Roofing and Restoration. Don’t wait until it’s too late—protect your home from water heater leaks today, for a dry and worry-free tomorrow.

Read Our Recent Posts