Hugh Cairns: Hot water tank failure

Water heater leaking can be the symptom of a more serious problem, so keep a very close eye on your water heater after performing any repairs. Photo: Contributed – (Photo: Hugh Cairns)

Hugh Cairns: Hot water tank failure

A leaking hot water tank is not good news. While a small leak may seem somewhat of a nuisance, it can quickly turn into a big problem.

Hot water tanks often have large storage capacities. Most tanks I inspect are in the 40 gallon range, which is a lot of water. It isn’t so much about the volume of water in the tank, but that the tank is under pressure. When homeowners experience a plumbing leak on the supply side of the plumbing system, the leak usually continues until someone discovers it. The longer the tank leaks the higher the probability of major damage. In extreme cases a complete failure of the tank can occur causing a significant flood. Repair bills are sure to follow and damage to personal property a reality.

Be careful to check out the other mechanical components in the hot water tank area. There can be other sources of water that cause puddles near tanks. Other sources may be plumbing waste lines, appliances near the tank or condensation which can accumulate and drip to the floor.

A water heater leak does not diminish or go away with time. Tank leaks usually accelerate so it’s best to move quickly to fix the problem. Your first move is to shut the power and water supply off to your heater off and call a professional plumber.