Can A Leaking Water Heater Be Repaired?

A leaking water heater can be very concerning. Not only is there the potential for the leak to cause damage to your home, but you may be concerned about the expense involved in replacing it.

Thankfully, a leak does not always mean that a water tank needs to be replaced. Depending on the location of the leak, it may be possible to repair it and get more use out of the tank.

In some cases, the source of the leak may be quite obvious. In other cases, a puddle of water might appear a bit further away from where the leak is situated. It is important to determine the source of the leak before deciding whether a repair or replacement is the best course of action.

Potential Sources Of Water Heater Leaks

Based on the origin of the leak, you may be able to avoid water heater replacement and just stick with a simple repair. However, it is almost always advised to call a plumber when there is a water heater leak. Here is a look at some of the most common sources of water heater leaks and whether the issue can simply be repaired or not.


In some cases, the leak in your water tank could be coming from the pipes. Most hot water heaters connect two pipes: a hot water line and a cold water supply line.

These pipes are typically equipped with elbow joints that allow them to bend toward the water heater. If one of these water lines leaks, you may notice water spraying from one of the fittings or pipes.

Can It Be Repaired?

This can affect either the cold water supply line or the hot water line. In some cases, a leak that originates in the pipes may be less noticeable. Tightening any loose-fitting joints may be a quick way to resolve the leak.


If you notice a puddle on the floor near your hot water heater, it could be caused by condensation that has developed on the outside of the tank.

When the majority of the water within the tank is cold, such as during periods when your home’s hot water usage is particularly high, the cool tank will react with the warmer air within the home to increase condensation.

Can It Be Repaired?

This water will eventually drip off of the tank and onto your floor, leading to the puddle. However, there may not be any leak at all, which means the tank will not need to be replaced. Instead, you can make an effort to manage your home’s hot water demands to ensure that at least half of the tank contains hot water at all times.

Pressure Relief Valve

When the pressure within your hot water tank climbs too high, it causes the relief valve to open so that steam can escape and bring pressure back down to normal. The steam will quickly condensate and may create a puddle at the bottom of your tank.

Excessive tank pressure is typically caused by an operating temperature that is too high, so try keeping your hot water close to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and see if the situation improves.

Can It Be Repaired?

If you are finding that the pressure is building up often, even after turning down the thermostat of your hot water heater, it could be due to a faulty pressure relief valve.

This could be very dangerous and must be addressed immediately by a professional plumber. They may be able to fix the valve rather than replacing the unit entirely which is typically a relatively inexpensive repair.


To heat the water in your tank, an electric hot water heater uses heating elements that project into the tank. These heating elements are sealed with gaskets to stop them from leaking. When these gaskets wear or become damaged, they may cause water to collect beneath the tank.

Can It Be Repaired?

A plumber can help solve this type of problem safely. It is essential that electrical power to the water heater is turned off before you attempt to examine the elements. A plumber can inspect the element gaskets carefully for any potential drips and drain the tank before removing and replacing any elements or element gaskets that are problematic.


If the hot water tank itself is leaking water and none of the above issues are behind the problem, it may indeed be time to replace your water heater. Over time, the inside of a hot water tank will corrode because of the constant strain of heating and cooling as well as the buildup of mineral deposits.

Can It Be Repaired?

This cannot be avoided, and an old leaking tank will eventually need to be replaced. A water heater repair will not be able to solve the deep-rooted issue that is causing the leak to occur. In most cases, this leak cannot be stopped without a full replacement.

When To Call A Plumber

Keep in mind that you should always approach your hot water tank with caution as it may be very hot to the touch. Do not try to diagnose a leaking water heater if you are unfamiliar with it and the way it works.

Instead, the best course of action is to call a plumber who can look over the tank safely and identify the source of the problem. Many times, it will be possible to repair the tank rather than replacing it, particularly if you call at the first sign of trouble before a problem grows out of control.

Reach Out To Baumbach Plumbing & Remodeling

If you need help diagnosing problems with your hot water tank, get in touch with the experienced Northern Virginia master plumbers at Baumbach Plumbing & Remodeling.

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