With proper care and an annual inspection, you can expect your gas or electric hot water tank to last a minimum of 8-12 years. Of course to reach that minimum, professional hot water tank maintenance really is necessary; especially in Calgary, where our very hard water can easily halve the lifespan of your water heater. Regardless of how old your tank is, if it’s begun to leak, it’s important to figure out what’s causing the leak and have it repaired.
The Four Most Common Leaks.
If you notice your heater is leaking, these are the first four places you’ll want to check. Of course, these aren’t the only causes of leaks, but these four are a good place to start.
- Drain valves are near the bottom of the tank and allow you to drain the water out for cleaning, etc. When drain valves break, they can be easily and affordably replaced.
- Corrosion occurs when too much sediment builds up. Sediment is caused by hard water, which can make corrosion a big problem in Calgary for homeowners who do not have their heater drained and cleaned annually. Corrosion usually leads to cracks and holes near the bottom of the tank. The whole tank will need to be replaced.
- Loose water lines are caused by normal wear and tear. Once you’ve identified the inlet or outlet that’s causing the leak, tighten the connection or replace the line.
- Pressure valves are responsible for regulating the temperature and pressure inside the water heater. They’re very important for ensuring your hot water tank doesn’t explode. If a pressure valve breaks, you can expect to find water leaking from the side of the tank. Like drain valves, pressure valves can be replaced.
What to do if Your Heater is Leaking.
Many skilled DIYers may feel comfortable taking on a valve replacement or tightening a loose water line, but if your tank is corroded or you can’t quite figure out what’s going wrong, you’ll need the help of a professional Calgary plumber.
In order to protect your property and your heater, as well as protect anyone who works on your tank, the first thing you should do is cut the power off. On a gas heater, this will mean locating the thermostat and then switching it off. For an electric heater, your breaker panel should have a water heater label. Turn off that switch.
Once you’ve turned off the power to the tank, you’ll need to shut off the water. There should be a cold water line leading to your tank. This line should have a valve. Close the valve by twisting it to the right.
If you’re comfortable, you should now drain the water tank. This is an essential step in protecting your property, but it’s also the most challenging (though still within the average homeowner’s ability). Find your garden hose, then locate the drain valve near the bottom of the tank (this might be a good time to see if this valve is what’s leaking). Attach the hose to the valve and then run the hose to the nearest drain — a floor drain is easiest. Open the valve.
Note that your hot water tank may be acting as a vacuum, preventing the water from flowing well. To break the vacuum, open any hot water faucet around your home, so air can enter the system. Your tank will take around an hour to empty. In the meantime, call the friendly Calgary plumbers at Plumbing Paramedics. We’ll have a plumber over to help with your emergency as soon as we can!
Call us at (403) 452-2911 or Book Now an appointment.