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Can You Still Use Your Water if Your Water Heater is Leaking?

Owning your own home is a dream for many people. Still, it comes with the challenge of maintaining your property and repairing appliances—or hiring a professional. If you notice a puddle under your water heater, the first few questions that run through your mind are probably, “How bad is it? How much is this going to cost? Can I still take a shower until it gets fixed?”

If you ask yourself these questions, you might need a water heater repair company near Asheville to help you fix the issue, and we are just the team to do it!

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What To Do If your Heater Starts Leaking:

If you do find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. Follow these steps to prevent further damage.

1. Confirm that it is Actually your Water Heater Leaking

A warm water heater in a cold basement or garage during the winter may cause condensation to pool on or around the tank. If enough condensation builds up, it can start to soak the ground around the heater. If your heater is near your washing machine, air conditioner, or another appliance that might leak, it is best to make sure that your heater really is the source of the water.

If you suspect condensation, wipe the tank down and see if more water starts to collect evenly across the surface. Then check that nothing else around the heater is leaking.

2. Cut Off Power to your Water Heater

You should always turn off the power to any appliance before you try to perform any maintenance to reduce the risk of electrocution or burns. Water heaters can be either electric or gas-powered. If you have an electric water heater, flip the water heater switch on your circuit breaker to the OFF position. With a gas water heater, there should be a shutoff valve near the gas line.

3. Shut Off the Water Supply

If your water heater is leaking, continuing to let water flow into it will waste water. There should be two pipes at the top of your water heater. The cold water inlet pipe brings unheated water into the tank. Once the tank heats the water up, it exits back into your main plumbing through the hot water outlet pipe.

They may be color-coded (blue for cold and red for hot), or you can feel the exterior to see which one is warmer. Close the valve on the inlet pipe by turning the wheel as far clockwise as you can or rotating the handle 180 degrees.

4. Locate the Source of the Leak

See if you can tell where the water is originating. Then begin to clean up the puddled water and watch to see where it starts to pool up again. If there is water coming from the top of your tank, it may be that one of the inlet or outlet pipes has come loose and needs to be tightened with a pipe wrench.

Water running down the sides or from the bottom may mean that your pressure or drainage valve is having an issue or is partially closed. If the water is pooling under the tank and does not appear to be coming from any of the valves or pipes, you may have a cracked tank.

5. Clean Up the Water

Leaving standing water on your floor is never a good idea, as it might cause damage or warping. Moisture is the perfect environment for breeding molds, fungi, and even some species of insects.

Once you’ve mopped up the water, consider leaving towels under the heater (and keeping it off) to prevent future puddling and make clean-up easier until the leak is fixed.

6. Schedule a Repair

If tightening your valves and pipes didn’t do the trick, or you couldn’t find the source of the leak, contact a professional to help replace it. You may need a fitting or valve replaced or even a whole new heater.

Causes of Water Heater Leaks

There are a few reasons your heater might be leaking water. You may be able to fix some of them on your own, while others will require professional help.

Problems with Pipes or Valves

Water flows into your tank to be heated and out again through pipes, and valves help control the flow of that water. If the connections between any of these come loose, water can start seeping out. This may be a relatively simple solution to fix on your own by tightening them with a wrench. If tightening them does not fix the leak, it could indicate a cracked pipe or broken valve that needs to be replaced.

High Pressure

Heating water creates steam, and vapors have a greater volume than liquids. Too much steam can increase the pressure in your heater, which, if left unchecked, could eventually explode. Your tank has a temperature and pressure valve that lets out water if the pressure in the tank becomes too high.

If you notice water leaking from the T&P valve, start by lowering the temperature on your heater. You may need to replace a faulty valve if that doesn’t work.

Cracked Tank

Consistent high pressure over an extended period of time can put pressure on the tank. Especially if hard water has deteriorated the lining of your tank, this could eventually cause your water heater to crack. When your heater cracks, the only solution is to have it replaced.

Is a Water Heater Leak Dangerous?

A water heater leak is more of an inconvenience than a danger, but it can lead to problems if not taken care of promptly. As previously mentioned, standing water can cause property damage. In severe cases, this could cause structural damage to your home. Mold or an insect infestation could make you and your family members ill.

Electricity and water don’t mix. If the leak resulted in a wire, plug, or electrical device getting wet, it could destroy the device, damage your electrical system, or seriously injure someone.

Can you Use your Water If your Water Heater is Leaking?

The short answer is yes, as long as you don’t mind using cold water. Shutting off the input to your water heater will not affect your home’s main water supply. You can still run appliances like your washing machine or dishwasher, flush your toilet, and use your shower, sink, or garden hose.

However, you will have a limited supply of cold water since your water supply is no longer being heated. Since you don’t shut off the hot outlet pipe, you can use any hot water in the tank.

Keep in mind that since you have shut off the power and thus the heating elements, the water will not be consistently kept warm and will start to cool over time.

Once the water has cooled off or you use all the water in the tank when you shut it off, you will only have cold water until the leak is repaired, and you can turn the heater back on.

When to Call a Professional

If tightening your pipes and valves and lowering the temperature and pressure doesn’t stop the leak, or if you suspect a broken valve or cracked tank, it’s time to call in a professional.

If you need an emergency plumber in Weaverville, NC, call Four Seasons Plumbing. Our professionals offer top-quality water heater repair and installation. We can also replace valves and repair and replace water pipes and the gas line feeding into your water heater. We are the most seasoned and professional plumbers Black Mountain, NC, has to offer.

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.