When you have a hot water system leaking, the very first thing you need to know is the cause of the leak. To detect a leak, you may check the system and its parts. These include the tanks and the pipes along the length of the system. Keep in mind that other pipeworks may also be the source of the leak, and although they do not belong to your water system, they should also be dealt with.
Leaks do not resolve by themselves. In fact, they get worse the longer you avoid the problem. You may think that you are simply dealing with a simple little drip, but before you know it, it can turn into a big problem.
Reasons for Hot Water System Leaking
The first possible cause is a leaking temperature and pressure relief valve. You should check if the valve needs to be replaced.
Secondly, loose pipe joints can also cause leaking, and may be due to bad weather conditions that damage the fittings in the joints. The solution to this problem could involve replacing or repairing the loose joints or replacing the entire hot water system itself.
The third cause involves a damaged tank. A leaking tank usually means that one or more of the tank’s components have malfunctioned.
Your hot water tank may have leaks at the top or at the bottom, both of which you can sometimes repair, depending on the nature and extent of the damage.
Leaks at the top may involve leaks at the following areas: the expansion tank; inlet valve; a rusty anode rod screw that incurred water damage; loose pipefitting; temperature and pressure relief valve; and the tank itself. Leaks coming from the bottom may include leaks from the following: the temperature and pressure relief valve; the drain valve; and the tank itself.
Remedies You Can Implement
To avoid further and serious damages to your hot water system leaking, you need to resolve the problem as early as possible. There are cases when you can detect a leak and fix it by yourself, and there are instances when a contractor plumber is the only choice. In this section, we shall see how you can fix some leaks on your own.
Leaks may warrant either repair or replacement. For the latter, you may replace either particular parts or the entire unit. There are instances when replacing the entire system is the better and more efficient option. If you are replacing your unit, consider getting the latest model. This might be environmentally and economically sound because the latest technologies are often more efficient.
You may find that a hot water system leaking at the top is cheaper and easier to repair than a leak at the bottom. First, switch your heater off. For gas systems, look for the gas valve and twist it to its “off” position.
For electric systems, look for the off switch at the breaker and twist it to “off.” For gas heaters, you also need to make sure that the gas piping ball valve connected to the heater is positioned vertical to the gas piping, or is at a right angle to it. These are safety measures to prevent burns and shocks.
Look for the source of the leak and inspect each pipe. You also need to check for moisture in the access panels’ insulation. If a pipe fitting is loose, you can use a spanner to tighten it.
You may also use the spanner to tighten the nut of a leaking cold water inlet valve. If the threaded connection of the expansion tank is leaking, you may remove it from the connection point, apply thread sealer, then thread and fasten it back securely.
If the drain valve near the bottom is leaking, try turning the valve counter-clockwise. If it doesn’t stop the leak, it will need to be changed. To do this, connect an ordinary water hose between the outlet and a location outside. Then switch the inlet of the cold water line off, and then open the drain valve to vacate the tank’s contents. Using a spanner or wrench, take out the valve. Apply Teflon tape or joint compound on the thread of the new drain valve replacement, and then screw it tight.
When Is It Time to Call the Contractor?
For water heaters that have condensation, you might want to replace them with tanks that are better insulated. With your hot water system leaking, you also need to be concerned with mold impact on human health. You will need to call a professional, licensed plumber to perform the parts and tank repairs and replacement for you. The same professional help is needed for leaks in the temperature and pressure relief valve; anode rod port; rusty pipe fitting; cold water inlet valve; the expansion tank parts other than the threaded connection; or the tank itself; because all these need replacement. In general, it is not recommended to tinker with your hot water system if you are not a professional.