If you happen to notice a puddle of water near your water heater as you pass through the garage, you should take a minute to investigate. A leaky water heater may not be a serious problem, but it could also indicate a dangerous situation that needs to be addressed right away. Here are some places to check to find the source of the leak. When you find out where the water is coming from, you'll have an idea about what's causing the problem and what needs to be done to fix it.

Feel For Condensation

Under the right temperature conditions inside and outside the tank, condensation can develop on the walls of the water heater and drip down the sides. Run your hand along the heater to see if the sides are damp. If so, that could be the source of the problem, and it will clear up on its own. However, you may also want to run through other checks just to make sure there isn't a different problem. Also, if you determine condensation is the cause, check the heater at a different time to make sure the condensation has cleared up because it shouldn't be a continuous problem.

Check Inlets And Outlets

If there's a large puddle of water on the floor, be sure to turn off the electricity to the water heater before you do anything to it to be on the safe side. One thing to keep in mind is that the leak may be coming from some place other than the tank. The pipes that lead to and from the heater are likely culprits. Check the connections on the pipes to make sure they are not loose. If you see water dripping around the connections, tighten them to see if that fixes the problem. Another thing to look at is the seal around each pipe that comes out of the tank or goes into it. If a seal is leaky, you'll probably need to call in a plumber to do the repairs.

Examine The Pressure Valve

There's a pressure valve on the side of your water heater. It is designed to release water if the pressure gets too high inside the tank. If you see water spraying or running out of the release valve, you should cut the power and water supply to your heater and call a plumber right away because this could be a dangerous situation. However, the valve could also be leaking because it is worn or has a loose seal. While this situation isn't as dangerous, you should still have repairs done as soon as possible so the valve functions as it should to protect your home from an exploding water heater.

Look Under The Tank

Get on your hands and knees so you can see under the tank. If there is a puddle of water under the tank, it might indicate the tank itself has a leak due to rusted areas. This can happen when your tank is old and at the end of its useful life. The solution is to have a new water heater put in by a plumber.

When you work with your water heater, even if you're just examining it, keep safety tips in mind. The water leaking out could be hot enough to burn you, so be careful about putting your hands or feet into the leaking water. Also, in addition to cutting off electrical power, you may also want to cut off the water supply, especially if water is spewing everywhere. There should be a red, water cut-off valve above the tank. If you can't find it or you can't reach it safely, then cut off the water to your house at the main entry valve until a plumber can get to your home and assess the situation.

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