Why Is My Hot Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom?Hot water heaters often leak from the bottom for one of two reasons: there is either a problem with your drain valve or there is a leak in your tank. The drain valve is a relatively simple and easy to fix issue, while the tank itself can be much more difficult to repair. Let’s take a look at how to tell what the cause of the leak at the bottom of your hot water heater is—and how to get a fix for either scenario:
- A leaky drain valve: If your hot water heater is leaking from the bottom, cross your fingers and hope this is your issue because it’s so much cheaper and easier to repair than if it is a leak stemming from the tank. The valve should be easy to locate. It’s a spigot on the bottom of the tank that doesn’t look all that different from the spigot you use to water your lawn outside. If you’re as handy as Miriam is, you’ve probably even used it to drain your water heater of sediment in the past. You can usually see water dripping from the spigot if the drain valve is, in fact, the problem. Generally, a drain valve leak occurs because the washer inside of it has become broken or damaged. The valve will need to be replaced, but the good news is that the cost is far less than that of replacing galvanized pipes, or other major plumbing dilemmas. It is, however, a bit complicated, so you’ll want to have a professional plumber out to make sure it’s done right.
- A leaky water tank: When trying to find the cause of your hot water heater leak, the second place you’ll want to look is on the tank itself. If you see water leaking anywhere from the tank, chances are very high you’ll have to replace the entire hot water heater. My sense is that Miriam—who described a noticeable pool of water on her garage floor—has this issue because more water tends to drip from a leak in the tank than it would from a drip in the valve. Replacing your water heater is not as costly as upgrading the plumbing in an old house, for example, but it is far more costly than just simply getting a new drain valve. As with the leaky drain job, you’ll want to call a professional plumber to get this fix done—or risk installing your new hot water heater improperly. A professional plumber can also make sure you pick a model that is energy efficient and fits the size and needs of your home and family.
Water Heater Replacement OptionsI won’t belabor this point because I’ve talked about picking a tankless water heater in the past, but I do strongly recommend choosing an energy efficient tankless model if you must replace your old hot water heater when it springs a leak. There are just too many benefits to the new tankless hot water heater models for homeowners to go any other route. Some of the most enticing benefits of tankless hot water heaters are:
- Comfort: In Citrus Heights, CA where Miriam lives, as well as throughout the Sacramento area and Northern California, we have what’s known as a Mediterranean climate. This means our summers are hot and dry, but our winters can be damp and chilly. And, there’s nothing as soothing as a nice hot shower on a cold winter morning. One of the main benefits of a tankless water heater is that it provides instant and continuous steaming hot water. No more showers going unexpectedly cold. Doesn’t that sound nice?
- Savings: Tankless water heaters tend to be between 24 and 34% more efficient than their standard counterparts, according to energy.gov. A more efficient appliance means a lower utility bill because your water heater will need to use less fuel to heat your water.
- A longer lifespan: Conventional water heaters have a lifespan between 10 and 15 years. Tankless water heaters, however, last up to 20, making them a great long-term investment.