How to Handle a Leaky Water Heater: Signs, Fixes, and Expert Advice

A leaky water heater can spell trouble for your home, causing damage to floors, walls, and valuable belongings. While water heaters are essential for everyday comfort, they can sometimes develop issues that lead to leaks.  In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the signs indicating you have a leaky water heater and provide step-by-step instructions on how to fix it. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, understanding these signs and knowing how to address them can save you from costly repairs and water damage that could lead to mold.

Recognizing the Signs of a Leaky Water Heater

Before delving into the solutions, it’s essential to identify the signs that your water heater might be leaking. Early detection can prevent extensive damage to your home and help you avoid higher repair costs down the road.

Puddles and Water Accumulation

One of the most obvious signs of a leaky water heater is the presence of water around the unit. Check the area around your water heater regularly for puddles or moisture. A pool of water can be an early indicator of a problem.

Rust or Corrosion

Inspect the water heater tank for any signs of rust or corrosion, particularly around the bottom. Rusty patches or discolored areas may indicate that water is seeping through the tank.

Damp Walls and Floors

If you notice dampness or water stains on nearby walls, floors, or ceilings, your water heater may be the culprit. These signs can be indicative of a slow, ongoing leak.

Strange Noises

Unusual sounds coming from your water heater, such as hissing or popping, could indicate pressure buildup due to a leak. Pay attention to any changes in the sounds your water heater makes.

Reduced Hot Water Supply

A noticeable decrease in the amount of hot water your water heater produces could indicate a leak. Leaking water may mix with the hot water supply, reducing its volume and temperature.

Causes of Water Heater Leaks

Understanding the underlying causes of water heater leaks is crucial for effective troubleshooting. Let’s explore some common reasons your water heater may be leaking.

Pressure Relief Valve Issues

The pressure relief valve is designed to release excess pressure from the tank to prevent it from rupturing. If this valve is faulty or malfunctions, it can lead to leaks.

Corrosion and Rust

Over time, the inside of the water heater tank can corrode due to the constant exposure to water. This corrosion weakens the tank, making it more prone to leaks.

Sediment Buildup

Mineral sediment can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, leading to overheating and pressure issues. This can cause the tank to weaken and eventually leak.

Faulty Drain Valve

The drain valve at the bottom of the tank is used for flushing out sediment. If this valve is damaged or not properly closed after maintenance, it can result in leaks.

Aging Water Heater

Like all appliances, water heaters have a finite lifespan. As they age, the likelihood of developing leaks increases. If your water heater is nearing the end of its expected lifespan, leaks may become more common.

How to Fix a Leaky Water Heater

Now that you’ve identified the signs and potential causes of a leaky water heater, let’s discuss how to fix it. Keep in mind that safety should be your top priority.  If you need more clarification or are uncomfortable with any step of the process, it’s best to consult a professional plumbing team such as Chas Roberts in Phoenix.

Step 1. Turn Off the Power and Water Supply

Before you start any repairs, ensure that the power supply to the water heater is turned off. Additionally, shut off the cold water supply valve leading to the water heater.

Step 2. Drain the Tank

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and place the other end in a floor drain or bucket. Open the drain valve to allow the tank to drain completely. This step is crucial for addressing sediment buildup.

Step 3. Replace Faulty Valves

If the pressure relief valve or drain valve is the source of the leak, you may need to replace them. Ensure you select the appropriate replacement parts and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.

Step 4. Repairing Rust or Corrosion

If you discover rust or corrosion on the tank, it’s best to consult a professional plumber or consider replacing the water heater altogether. Repairing extensive corrosion can be challenging and may not provide a long-term solution.

Step 6. Addressing Sediment Buildup

To prevent future leaks caused by sediment buildup, regularly flush your water heater. Once the tank is drained, close the drain valve, refill the tank, and turn the power and water supply back on.

Consider Professional Help

If you’re uncomfortable with any of the repair steps or if the leak persists, don’t hesitate to contact a licensed plumber, such as Chas Roberts. We have the expertise to diagnose and fix more complex issues so that more problems do not arise.

Preventing Future Water Heater Leaks

Prevention is often the best approach to dealing with water heater leaks. Here are some tips to help you avoid future problems:

Annual Maintenance

Schedule an annual water heater inspection and maintenance service with a professional plumber. Our team at Chas Roberts can identify and address potential issues before they turn into leaks.

Replace Aging Water Heaters

If your water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan, consider replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model. Newer units are less likely to develop leaks and can save you money on energy bills. Ask our team at Chas Roberts to provide you with the best options for your home.

Install a Water Leak Detector

Invest in a water leak detector that can alert you to leaks early on. These devices can help minimize damage by notifying you as soon as water is detected.


A leaky water heater can be a significant headache, but with the right knowledge and proactive maintenance, you can prevent and address leaks effectively. By recognizing the signs of a leak, understanding the potential causes, and knowing how to fix the problem, you can protect your home and save on repair costs. Remember that safety should always be a priority. If you’re uncertain about any aspect of water heater repair, it’s best to seek professional assistance from the experts at Chas Roberts.

Chas Roberts services 28 cities in Metro Phoenix and Tucson and provides exceptional, one-on-one customer service and knowledgeable advice on your A/C. If you’re experiencing an air conditioning or plumbing emergency, give us a call now. Our services include weekends and holidays with no additional cost.

Contact our Tucson office at 520.549.4172. or our Metro Phoenix office at 602.386.2732.