Leaking water heaters can be annoying— and big repairs. The cause of a leak can be tricky to pinpoint and even trickier to fix.
The good news is that with a little know-how, you can get that old water heater back in working order. Here’s everything you need to know about leaking water heaters.
How to detect where the Whirlpool water heater leaks
If you know where the water comes from, it will be a lot easier to know what is going on. What causes water heaters to leak? There are many reasons water heaters leak, including defective parts, damage from older age, a clogged drain valve, and water pressure issues.
We can look around the Whirlpool water heater and see where the wet spots are. Once we see it, we can try to find out where the water is coming from.
You can use a moisture meter if needed but often you will see or hear the water flowing. Some plumbers also use infrared cameras to see colder areas that can indicate wet spots.
Another thing that can help us is the display of the water heater. Modern water heaters have advanced sensors that can indicate what is going on. You can often Google the error code and the brand of your water heater to see what is going on. If there is a big problem, water heaters often shut off by themselves. Let’s take a look at some common issues.
Whirlpool water heater leaks from the bottom
If there is water under the water tank, it is possible that the pipes or valves that run under it are leaking. Sometimes the connection between the pipes (fitting) breaks and needs to be replaced.
Another common cause of leaking water heaters is pressure problems. If your water pressure is too high, the water will get pushed out of the water heater. This is a safety mechanism and makes sure that your water heater doesn’t explode.
It is often not a problem if it happens once. If it is a frequent problem, your plumber might have to check what is going on. Check the pressure gauge (if you have one) to see if there is not too much pressure in the system.
There are 2 types of water heaters: tankless and water heaters with a tank. If you see a lot of water flowing out of your tank, it is possible that there is a tear in it. This can cause a lot of damage as the tank can contain a lot of (hot) water.
This doesn’t happen often but the tank should be drained as soon as possible to avoid further problems. Installing a water dripping pan is a great idea as this can remove dripping water without any damage.
If you see water dripping out of the water heater itself, it can be a good idea to turn it off and call a plumber. Something in the device might have broken and it needs to be replaced.
It is important that your water heater gets maintained regularly so that every system is checked. If you have a sacrificial rod, it should be replaced often to avoid damage to the water heater.
Whirlpool water heater leaks from the top
Some water heaters don’t have pipes running on top of the water heater. The water can come from a device that is hanging above it. Another possible cause is condensation. When a water heater is active, it creates an exhaust.
This exhaust is transported through a vent. It is possible that this vent is leaking some exhaust and that this is creating condensation. This can be a dangerous situation as CO could be leaking in your house.
If the water supply pipe runs above the tank, it is possible that it is leaking. Connections between pipes are commonly dripping water as these are weak points. Replacing this is often quite straightforward if you have a valve nearby.
This valve can also be the cause of the problem though. These valves are not often moved and after a few years, they can break. It is possible that you see stains on the water heater if it has been a problem for a while.
Depending on the design of your tank, it is also possible that the water pressure release valve is located higher and creates problems. If it is only a limited amount of water, it is generally not a problem. If it is a lot of water or happens often, you might want to call a plumber to check what is going on.
Another possible cause is a leaky roof. If water streams from the roof on your water heater, it has to be fixed as soon as possible. Your water heater uses electricity and this can lead to dangerous situations.
Am I able to still use water in my home with a leaking water heater?
Below are some steps that you can take to see if you can keep using your Whirlpool water heater if water is leaking out of it:
-You should check if there is a notification on the display. You can use the manual or Google to see what the notification means. In some instances, it is best to stop using the water heater. Especially if water keeps leaking from the pressure release valve, you should be careful.
-You should also check the pressure gauge to see if the water pressure is within the acceptable range.
-You should check if the water leaks for a long time or not. If it just drips for a minute or two, it shouldn’t be a problem.
-Check where the water is leaking from. If it is leaking from the pressure release valve, you are probably fine if it doesn’t leak for too long.
The pressure release valve is a safety system. Your water heater also should have advanced sensors if it is quite new. If the release valve breaks and your tank doesn’t shut down, your water heater might explode.
If there is no notification on the display, you have a system that is quite new, the water pressure is not too high and it doesn’t keep dripping, you can probably keep using the tank. Check the manual of your device though. Your system should also be maintained by a plumber.
If your system shut down by itself, you shouldn’t use it if water keeps dripping from it. Call your plumber for a checkup.
Repairing a leaking Whirlpool water heater
If you’ve got an old water heater, you’re probably due for a new one. However, if it’s a little too old to install, you can get some extra life out of it by having it serviced.
Plumbers have sensors that allow them to diagnose problems with a water heater. They can check the efficiency and notice if a part is not performing well.
Newer water heaters are easier to service as they often indicate what the problem is. Water heaters have a lot of sensors that make sure that the water heater doesn’t get damaged or explode. The disadvantage of this is that these electronic elements can break as well and might have to be replaced.
While a new water heater can give you a fresh start, it’s not always worth the money. A new water heater can cost about $4,000 or more and for most people, it’s not necessary.
If your old water heater is old, rusted, and leaking, it’s time for a new one. A new water heater will save you money on your heating bills and prevent you from having to do emergency repairs.
If you decide to replace your old water heater, shop around for a great deal. There are plenty of options out there, and it’s important to find the right fit for your home.
If you don’t, you could end up with an expensive repair. Each brand has unique advantages and disadvantages, and your plumber can help find the best option for your needs.
If your water heater is leaking, it’s important to diagnose the source of the leak. A broken pipe or valve is the most common cause, while a pressure problem is also possible.
To prevent these problems, make sure your water heater is regularly cleaned and that the drain valve is not blocked. If the leak persists, contact your plumber to get it fixed.
Adding a drain pan under your water heater can make leaks less of a problem. This pan catches the water and it flows through the drain.
Whirlpool water heaters are quite durable. After about 10-15 years water heaters generally start to break down. If you start to get a lot of problems, you can consider replacing it with a new one.
The repairs can start to add up over time and it might be a better decision to just replace it. This makes sure that you can enjoy hot water without too many issues.
It is important to maintain your water heater. This includes flushing it and letting a plumber check it every 2 years. Plumbers can open the water heater and clean several parts of it. This makes sure that the water keeps working properly.
Plumbers have advanced tools to determine what is wrong with your water heater. A water leak can often be solved by checking the display of the water heater though.
If you don’t know what is going on, you can also check the manual.
Most plumbers have experience working with Whirlpool water heaters, you can also reach out to the company directly if needed.