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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Hot Water Heater Leaks

7/1/2018 (Permalink)

Most of us rarely think about our hot water heaters until they either fail to give us hot water or they leak all over our basement and cause significant damage. But in fact, due to the nature of what they due, water heaters are prone to leaks and often cause significant damage to your basement, especially if your basement is finished.  It's a much harder clean up if you have wet carpeting and drywall versus cement floor and walls.  

Hot water heaters operate by bringing cold water into the tank at the bottom.  This water is then heated using natural gas, propane, fuel oil or electricity.  The hot water then rises to the top where it is released to wherever warm water is needed in your home, while more cold water comes back into the tank to replace it, and the cycle continues.  This process results in various spots where water can leak.

  • Whenever you have a plumbing connection or plumbing lines, you have the potential for a leak and there are several near your water heater
  • Because water is being heated, water heaters have a temperature & pressure relief valve.  These valves can be faulty and cause a leak, or they can leak due to excessive pressure, overheating, or becoming stuck
  • Your water heater has a drain valve.  This drain valve can fail to close completely and can cause leak.   
  • If you have an electric water heater, leaks can occur due to a loose heating element or a bad gasket
  • The tank itself can corrode and water can leak out the bottom

To protect yourself from significant water damage from a leaky hot water heater, you can install an automatic water shut off valve.  Moisture sensors are placed on the floor near or under the water heater.  If a leak is detected, the sensors send a signal to the control box which in turn closes the valve, shutting off the water supply.   

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