Some appliances around your home can feel like a vital part of your day — from the air conditioning unit that cools your home in the summer to the water heater that heats the water for your shower. That’s why, when something goes wrong with one of these appliances, you want to fix it as soon as possible. But, what does it mean when your water heater is leaking water from the top? Is replacing your water heater the only option, or is there something you can do on your own to resolve the issue?
What causes your water heater to leak from the top?
Water leaking from your water heater is never a good sign. But, if it’s leaking water from the top, there may be a silver lining. That’s because the lower the location of your leak, the more likely it is that you’ll need to replace the whole appliance. Water leaking from the top could be caused by various reasons. The most common parts causing leaking include:
- Water inlet valve
- Loose or corroded pipe fittings
- Temperature and pressure relief valve
How to Fix a Leak From the Top of a Water Heater
Leak From a Water Inlet Valve
If there is a pool of water on top of your water heater, the cause could be that rainwater has leaked down the vent pipe during a storm, but the more likely reason is that a water inlet pipe or valve is cracked, loose, or otherwise allowing for water to escape.
- Before attempting to fix the issue, always turn off the electricity leading to or around your water heater.
- Locate the cold water inlet. This pipe allows water to enter the tank to be heated. Make sure this pipe is turned on so that you can find where the leak is coming from.
- Dry the water spot on top of your water heater and use a paper towel to locate where the water is coming from (if you’re unable to see a leak).
- If the drip is coming from the valve, the solution may be tightening the nut that connects the handle. But, if tightening the nut doesn’t solve the problem, the valve is most likely faulty and will need to be replaced.
Leak From a Loose or Corroded Pipe Fitting
- If the problem is not the water inlet valve, pipe fittings may be the culprit. With the water inlet valve turned on, look for water leaking from a connection point.
- If the water is coming from a fitting, use a wrench to tighten the connection point.
- But, if you notice rust around the connection point or if tightening the fitting doesn’t seem to resolve the issue, the problem is likely corrosion.
- Simply replace the fitting. But, take note and continue monitoring as rust could mean that a more serious issue with your water heater is happening, and replacement may be necessary.
- If your water heater was installed with copper piping instead of threaded pipes, a qualified plumber might be needed to replace the fittings.
Leak From the Temperature or Pressure Relief Valve
- If the water isn’t leaking from the connection points or the water inlet valve, the cause may be the T&P valve. The temperature or pressure relief valve is located on top or on the side of your water heater. If you see water leaking from the valve’s threads, you’ll need to remove the valve.
- Before removing the valve, drain the tank until the water level is below the valve.
- Let air into the tank by opening a nearby hot water tap.
- Use channel locks to unscrew the valve from the tank.
- Check the part and pipe for rust or corrosion. If you find any rust or corrosion, your water heater will need to be replaced.
- If there’s no visible rust or corrosion, wrap the threads of the valve in Teflon tape, then screw the T&P valve back into the tank. The Teflon tape helps to tighten the part into place and can prevent leaks in most cases.
- If the part is still leaking water, the T&P valve may be cracked or damaged, and a new valve will need to be installed.
Need Help with Repairs or Replacements in Atlanta, GA? Air Select Can Help
Whether you need advice, routine maintenance, or a full replacement, our trusted team of water heater experts is here to help. Since 2008, Air Select has been providing dependable, high-quality AC and water heater services for families and businesses in Atlanta, GA. Contact us using this form to schedule a service or talk to an expert.