Most people understand that water leaks are serious issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Leaks can lead to substantial water damage and the buildup of mildew inside your house. While most leaks are fairly straightforward, you may sometimes notice water coming from an odd place, like the top of your water heater. Since water usually leaks from the bottom instead, you may be confused about the problem.
Investigate The Pipe Fittings
Before you do anything, you should inspect the tank to make sure there are no signs of holes, openings, or rust along the tank itself. These are signs of corrosion and the tank should be replaced before the tank leaks even more and floods your home. If you do not see any immediate signs of damage, then look at the water inlet and outlet pipe attached to the top of the tank. Both of these pipes can leak at the fittings.
Slow leaks are common, so do not be surprised if you do not see any water shooting or trickling from the pipes. Turn off the cold water supply valve and then use a rag to wipe water from the top of the tank. If you still see water starting to build, then the fitting on the hot water outlet pipe is likely loose. If you see no water, then turn on the cold water supply valve. If you start to see water, then you will need to tighten the fitting on the cold pipe. Use a crescent or an adjustable wrench to tighten the loose fitting. If the fitting does not tighten enough to stop water from leaking, then try adding some plumbing putty or teflon tape to the threads of the fitting and tighten it once again.
Look At The Anode
Almost all water heaters have special metal rods that sit inside the water tank. The rod is called a sacrificial anode and it corrodes over time. If the corrosion builds extensively, there is a chance that the connector that allows the anode to twist into the top of the water tank will start to degrade as well. A leak can then develop.
Investigate the anode for corrosion. You will need to twist off the top cap and pull the rod out of the water tank. If it has degraded significantly, then you will see an oxidized and form wire left behind. If you notice this, then replace the anode.
If the anode looks mostly or partially intact, then this is likely not where the leak is located. Look at the temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve can weaken over time and release water from the tank when pressure is normal or low. You can replace the valve yourself, but you will need to drain the water from the tank and shut off the unit. Otherwise scalding water will release from the tank while you make your repair.
For professional help with a leaky water heater, contact pros at companies like Reeves Plumbing & Heating.