My Water Heater is Leaking. Should I Replace or Repair It?
Is It Time to Repair or Replace My Water Heater?
Earlier this year, Trademark Restoration was called to a home in Las Vegas where the water heater leaked into the garage. Most homeowners don’t even look at these areas, so if there’s a leak it will cause water damage and mold growth over time. It damages the visible area, and sometimes the area just behind that wall as well.
Water heaters are often ignored – until it starts to take longer to get hot water for showers or strange sounds start coming from the tank. If your water heater is leaking, should you pay for repairs or replace it all together?
Water Heater Leaks Aren’t Doomed
Just because you notice water around your water heater doesn’t mean that it’s time to throw in the towel and buy a new one. The key to determining whether or not to replace starts with locating the source of the leak. Potential sources of a leaking water heater include the following.
When water inside of your tank is mostly cool, condensation occurs as that water mixes with warmer, outside temperature. Condensation often occurs when the tank is low on hot water, usually caused by periods of high hot water use. This is easily fixable:
• Monitor hot water usage to avoid excessive use
• Use an mix of hot and cold water
• Give the tank time to fill up after high, hot-water consumption periods
Condensation does not require replacement unless you need a larger-sized water heater due to high hot water consumption demands
Most water heaters have two pipes. One is the water supply line, the other is the hot water line. Both pipes have elbow joints that direct the flow of water to or from the tank. Either of these pipes are susceptible to leaking over time, especially around the joints. While water shooting from the joints is an obvious sign of the problem, leaky pipes are harder to spot, especially when the leak is only a few drips here and there behind the tank. Consider the age of the pipes, the condition of the water heater, and the frequency of leak repair related to pipes in order to decide to repair or replace it.
If you have an older water heater with pipes that tend to leak with some frequency, it’s time to replace it with a new water heater. For water heaters that are fairly new or have had very little issues aside from an occasional leak around the elbow joints, repair is usually the more cost-effective option.
Gaskets are used on electric water heaters to prevent leakage around heating elements that go into the tank warming the water. If the gaskets get worn or damaged, water slowly leaks and collects underneath the tank. Due to the difficulty in reaching these elements, it is best to let a professional turn off the power to the water heater and remove the cover plate to determine the extent of the damage. The tank will need to be drained before debris is removed and replaced from gaskets. If this is the only problem with your water heater, only repair is necessary.
Pressure Relief Valve
The pressure relief valve is an important part of the water heater – it allows steam to escape when pressure gets too high within the tank. This escaped steam condensates and forms a puddle around the bottom of the tank. Ideally, hot water should be kept at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Aside from keeping the pressure relief valve in check, this operating temperature can also help cut down on energy costs.
Pressure valve issues may include:
• A faulty water heater thermostat
• A defective pressure relief value
• Water temperature set too high within the tank
Repairs will usually fix most pressure relief valve problems. The only exception is related wear and tear within the tank that would make replacement a safer option.
By the time the water tank itself starts to leak, there is likely to be damage within the tank that may result in rust and other potentially harmful deposits getting into your water supply. As for the other potential problems with a water tank, a qualified contractor like Trademark Restoration 24/7 should be able to help you make a well-informed decision. For assistance, dial 702-749-9999 anytime day or night, or click here to reach us by email.