How To Resolve An Issue With A Water Heater That Leaks On The Top

Posted on: 18 January 2017

If you have a hot water heater and inspect the appliance regularly, then you may look for some common signs of a failure or break. Some of these signs include rust around the tank, leaks on the bottom of the unit, and popping sounds coming from the appliance. However, there are some other signs you need to look out for. Water leaking from the top of the tank is one of them. If you notice this problem, then follow the tips below to resolve the issue.

Investigate The Pipes

If you see water on top of your water heater that seems to have pooled on the top of the appliance, then there is a good chance that water has leaked out of either the cold water supply or hot water outlet pipe. If your hot water pressure has also reduced significantly, then this is another sign of a problem with a pipe leak. If you installed and connected the pipes yourself, then your issue may have been forgotten dielectric unions. This is a necessity if the nipples fitted on the top of the tank are made from a different type of metal than your water pipes. For example, many nipples are made from stainless steel, but water pipes are often copper. If the copper and stainless steel remain in constant contact with one another, then an electric charge will be created. This will cause the copper pipe to corrode and form leaks.

If the water pipes are connected directly to the water heater nipples, then install dielectric unions. One side of the coupling will be fitted with steel, and the other will contain copper. The steel side should fit against the steel nipple and the copper end should be secured against the copper piping. Keep in mind that corroded pipes will need to be replaced if they have already been damaged. However, the dielectric fittings will prevent future issues. 

If you already have the fittings on the water heater pipes, then make sure they are as tight as possible. Loose fittings can cause leak issues as well. Use a plumbing wrench to tighten the fittings. If you see any quick connect fittings near the water heater, then press them together strongly to stop leaks. 

Check The Overflow Tube

Water heaters have devices called temperature and pressure relief valves that help to keep pressure from building up in the appliance. The valve opens when pressure becomes too high in the tank, and water is released to reduce this pressure. While the overflow valve is only supposed to open when pressure is elevated, the valve can become weak over time. The valve can then open intermittently and allow water to escape. While most valves have overflow tubes that divert water away from the water tank, some have much shorter pipes that let water drop on top of the appliance. This may be your issue if the overflow tube is a shorter one.

To check to see if the temperature and pressure relief valve is weak, look at the overflow tube that sits on the top of the water heater. Place a small rag or piece of paper underneath the tube and investigate it every 15 minutes or so to see if it becomes wet. If it does, then change the temperature and pressure relief valve.

Temperature and pressure relief valves are standard devices, so you can easily find a replacement at your local home store. Find the one that matches the opening size on the appliance. If you do not know what this size is, then remove the old valve to check before buying a new one. When adding the new valve, just make sure to use either plumbing putty or plumbing tape around the threads of the valve to keep it from leaking in the future. For more information, contact a company like StateWide Mechanical II Inc.


Knowing When It’s Time to Call the Plumber

My name is Jason Lawrence, or around my house I’m sometimes known as “Daddy Fix-It.” My wife Sarah and I have four children all under the age of ten. I didn’t start out as a guy who was handy around the house, but I am learning to become a do-it-yourselfer for sure. Did I mention that I’m a bit stubborn? There are times I struggle with projects a little too long, and it takes my wife stepping in to convince me that it’s time to call a professional. I’ve become especially handy with plumbing projects. I don’t know why kids think toys belong in the toilet and doll hair is good for the bathtub drain, but around here those are weekly events. I’m going to share some of my experiences, how I fixed some of our plumbing problems, and when it becomes time to call the plumber.

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