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Causes of Leaking Hot Water Systems

There are different reasons why you may experience a hot water system leak in your house. A quick read of this compilation will put you in the know of some things which will make you better prepared to handle leaking problems when they arise.

  • Age of your Water Heater

Can you remember the last time you had your hot water system checked and serviced. Most hot water systems will be able to serve you for about 10 years or more before needing repairs.

If you have a hot water system that is about this age or older, you would be better of thinking of a complete hot water system replacement or at the least a hot water system repair.

At about this age, there is bound to be a decline in the efficiency of your hot water system and this is because some of the internal parts will begin to break down.

Some sediments and mud that come as a result of the breakdown will find their way into the shower, basin, sink, and bath as well as the other plumbing appliances in your house.

It is therefore important that you continue to monitor the way your hot water system works by checking it physically and observing any sound that comes out as it operates.

  • When Storage Tank Breaks

The storage tank of a water heater is lined with glass. With time and use, the natural minerals that are present in the water will harden leaving behind deposits on the inside of the tank. Eventually, the glass lining will break and the water heater may begin to leak as a result.

Apart from this, the glass lining expands a lot when the water inside it is heated up and returns to its normal size when it cools down. The back-and-forth expansion and contraction will make the glass lining break at some point.

Whenever this happens, you will have to replace your water heater system because the cracks that result from the contraction and expansion of the glass lining cannot be repaired.

There are times the resultant leaks will not affect the smooth running of the unit and the owners will rather wait to have the water heater replaced. This should not be a problem as long as nobody comes to any form of harm as a result of this. However, at some point, a change of the water heater system becomes inevitable.

  • Exertion of Excessive pressure

Sometimes water heater tanks build up a lot of pressure causing them to start leaking. This can happen if the external water coming in does so at excessive pressure. When the pressure is too much or the water temperature has been set to a very high level, damage can take place in the water system.

  • Other Causes

Other reasons your water heater system may begin to leak include improper draining and some loose fixtures in the system. It is never a bad idea to try to solve some of these issues at home yourself, but at some point, you need to understand the better approach will be to invite a professional.

In most homes, not much thought is given to the hot water system until it develops a fault or stops working altogether. In fact, in some homes, depending on how severe a leak is, a leaking hot water system may escape the notice of those in the house for days or even weeks.

When there is a leaking hot water system, there are several other things that may get affected. For example, the walls, furniture, and floors may all get affected. This is the reason it is very important to service your hot water system regularly or get it replaced if there has been permanent damage to the unit.

Leaking Hot Water System: Repair or Replace?

A leaking hot water system is often the first sign that your water heater needs repairs or that you need to make provisions for a replacement. Making repairs and replacements is inevitable in any useful item in the house.

In a case where you have only a small amount of water leaking from or around the valves of the hot water system, you may not be bothered at all as this may be considered normal.

It is necessary to know whether the leaking water can be considered normal or it is an indication of a hot water system that is failing. To do this, you should ascertain the amount of water that is leaking from the system and try to determine the frequency at which the water is dripping.

Pressure release valves are meant to let out the pressure that has built up inside the tank from time to time and a small amount of water is let out in the process. Rest assured that if what you see released is only a small amount of water then it is just the pressure relief valve doing its job.

If, on the other hand, there is a large amount of water or a constant flow of water that is released from the hot water system, this is a sure sign of some serious problem.

Steps to Take When you Observe a Leaking Hot Water System

As soon as you make a water leak detection in your hot water system, you should swing into action. You must take well-coordinated steps and these start with identifying the source of the leak.

  • Identifying the Source of the Leak

You must ascertain that the leak is from the hot water system or from the pipes that come in and out of the hot water system and not from a closed pipe because while they are similar, they are not the same issue.

Should it be that the water is leaking from the hot water tank itself, you will need to find the source of the leak which can be at the top or the bottom of the water tank. It could also be from the pressure or temperature release valve of the system.

Again, it is necessary to know that the small amounts of water that you find coming out of the release valve periodically is not strange, but a normal occurrence.

  • Water Leaking from the Pressure Release Valve

If you discover that the water leaking is from the pressure release valve, what you should do is lift the lever that you have on the valve about three to four times. The valve will open and close so that any form of blockage that may be in it will be cleared off.

If this attempt puts an end to the leak, it will not be necessary to invite a professional again as the blockage that caused the leak has been taken care of. On the other hand, if you discover that the leak continues after you have lifted the pressure valve a few times, you may have to invite a hot water specialist to come and have a look at it.

  • Leaking from the Top to Bottom

In case you are using an electric or solar hot water system, hot water might leak from the top or bottom of the tank. Before you do any sort of work on the system, you should make sure to switch off or disconnect the power supply.

The usual practice is to keep the circuit breaker of the hot water system in the fuse box. You will be able to cut off the power supply to the hot water system but have the power supply to the other electrical appliances maintaining connection.

This step is important for two reasons. The first reason is that water and electricity can lead to an incident of electric shock. The second reason is that if the hot water system is leaking, keeping the heating element running in a near-empty tank is a terrible thing to do.

If yours is a gas water heater, you need to make sure that you turn off the gas supply to the system before you carry out any form of inspection on a hot water system that is leaking. Make sure to find a gas pipe that runs into the side or the bottom of the system and cut off the gas supply by turning the tap or the lever.

  • Make Sure to Turn Off the Water Supply

As soon as you find the source of the leak, turn off the water supply connected to the hot water system. This way, any further damage that may be caused by the leaking water is prevented.

If you look closely, you should be able to find a round dial or a small black tap installed on a pipe that runs into the bottom of the hot water system. This is the line that brings in cold water. Turning the tap clockwise will stop water from flowing into the heater tank. In case you cannot find this tap or perhaps it has become corroded or stiff, you should turn off the supply of water from the water mains.

Many homes have the water mains installed at the side or the front of the house, not too far from the water meter. In case you live in an apartment, you can try checking places like under the kitchen sink or the laundry.

The moment you find the tap, turn it off by doing a clockwise motion. Something to take note of when you choose the route of turning off the water mains is the need to fill up some buckets with water so you will be able to have something to use in the bathroom before the hot water specialist arrives to attend to the situation.

Calling an Expert May be the Best Option

It is never a small thing to have a faulty hot water system in the house, especially during the times of the year when life without it could be unbearable. You may not be able to handle all issues by yourself regarding the entire system and more importantly, there are some decisions best left for the professionals to handle. This is the reason you are advised to seek professional hot water services at times like this.


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Christopher Chow

I called Hero Plumbing to unblock a shower drain and was unable to get a quote over the phone, but Sam the owner was here same day. After his first try, he made quick work of the blockage. I opted to also get the acid cleaner stuff poured down. Sam had run out, but made a trip to go pick some up to finish the job. If you opt for this treatment make sure you can easily air the bathroom as it’s extremely strong and produces a lot of fumes. Great Service and Honest Pricing.

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Jared Evans

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Hayden was on time and explained the issue clearly, fixed it,then also did some extra checks on water pressure and taps to ensure there were no underlying issues.
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They replaced our hot water system with excellent workmanship, professionalism and in a timely manner - as always!

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