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Expert Guide on How To Fix Hot Water System Leaks


Need to know how to fix hot water system leaks? Dealing with a leaking hot water system in your home or apartment can be downright bothersome. After all, water leaks and chilly showers are two things best not prolonged! But don’t worry, our guide will help you understand the basic steps you can take to better understand how to fix hot water system leaks.

It might catch you off guard, with water cascading over your floors out of the blue. Or perhaps you’ve noticed a drop in your hot water pressure. Even a spike in your water bill could serve as a telltale sign that something’s amiss with your plumbing.

But here’s the silver lining: there’s usually a swift solution to your leaking hot water system predicament. The key is to first pinpoint the root cause of the issue. It could be a matter of age catching up with your water heater, or perhaps it’s been neglected in terms of maintenance. Excessive tank pressure, a loose drain valve, or even shoddy plumbing during installation could also be culprits. Our expert plumber Justin Vergunst has been providing advice for 35 years on how to fix hot water system leaks, and is here to give you simple steps you can try at home.

Leaking hot water system all over ground

Locating the Source of A Hot Water System Leak

Before you can learn how to fix hot water system leaks, it’s important to know how to locate the source of a water system leak. Determining the exact source of the leak is crucial for effective remediation. Leaks can occur at pipe or fitting connections, often due to loose connections or worn-out gaskets. In such cases, tightening the valve or replacing gaskets can rectify the issue promptly. However, leaks resulting from excessive tank pressure, stemming from a faulty pressure relief valve or high external pressure, warrant immediate investigation from a trained, insured and licensed plumber due to the potential hazards involved. Similarly, a leaking tempering valve, responsible for regulating hot water temperature, may require replacement if seals are compromised or corrosion is evident.

J&G Plumbing Solutions advertising stating 'Hot Water Systems'

“Regular annual maintenance is key for keeping your hot water system running for its full life of 20 years, and prevent costly replacements.”

Justin Vergunst, Owner of J&G Plumbing Solutions – 35 Years’ Experience Repairing and Installing Hot Water Systems in Melbourne.

Identifying Leak Locations – Is your hot water tank experiencing leaks? 

There are many ways to to fix hot water system leaks Leaks may arise at the junctions between the tank and the inlet or outlet pipes if they’re loose or sporting worn-out gaskets. But fear not, for such a hiccup can typically be resolved with relative ease – just tighten the valve once you detect it’s loose or swap out the gaskets altogether. Excessive pressure on the tank can also spell trouble for your water heater. This heightened pressure may stem from a faulty pressure relief valve or an influx of pressure into the water heater. In such instances, it’s strongly recommended to enlist the expertise of a local plumber, as navigating these issues can pose risks and complexities best handled by a professional.

Is your tempering valve feeling a bit leaky? Also dubbed as a mixing valve or hot water tempering valve, this safety apparatus is nestled at the outlet of hot water systems to regulate the temperature of the hot water coursing through taps and fixtures. If it’s sporting a compromised seal or showing signs of corrosion, a replacement might be in order.

If water is seeping out from the top, it’s likely centered around the sacrificial anode, a vital element of your hot water system tasked with shielding the tank from corrosion. Engineered to corrode in lieu of the tank itself, the anode’s effectiveness diminishes with significant corrosion, potentially resulting in leaks.

Still need to learn more on how to fix hot water system leaks? Then keep reading on. If hot water system leaks are sprouting from the tank’s base, it could be attributed to years of rust and sediment accumulation at the tank’s foundation. Neglecting this buildup can lead to rusting of the tank’s base, eventually causing leaks. Regularly flushing your hot water tank serves as a preventive measure, particularly in locales with hard water, mitigating this potential issue. Cracks can also develop within the tank due to various factors such as manufacturing flaws, wear and tear, or physical damage. Even minuscule cracks have the potential to trigger substantial leaks, necessitating tank replacement, essentially equating to installing a new system. Excessive water pressure can exacerbate this situation, subjecting the tank to undue strain and increasing the likelihood of cracks and leaks. Thus, maintaining optimal water pressure levels is paramount in safeguarding your hot water system from damage.

Info graphic of places your hot water system may be leaking

Emergency Repair Procedures – How to fix hot water system leaks

  • Locate and Shut Off Water Supply: Identify the main water supply valve and promptly shut it off to prevent further water damage.
  • Assess Leakage Source: Determine the cause of the leak, whether it’s due to age, poor maintenance, excessive tank pressure, loose fittings, or faulty plumbing during installation.
  • Repairing Common Leaks:
    • Loose Connections: Tighten loose fittings or replace worn gaskets to rectify leaks at pipe connections.
    • Excessive Pressure: Address issues such as a faulty pressure relief valve by seeking professional assistance to mitigate risks.
    • Tempering Valve: Check for seal problems or corrosion and consider replacement if necessary.
  • Dealing with Tank Leaks:
    • Top Leakage: Inspect the sacrificial anode for corrosion, which may necessitate replacement to prevent further tank damage.
    • Bottom Leakage: Prevent rust accumulation by regularly flushing the tank, as years of sediment buildup can lead to leaks. Cracks in the tank may require professional intervention or tank replacement.

Repair or Replacement: Evaluating Options

The decision to repair or replace a leaking hot water system depends on factors such as the extent of the leak and the overall condition of the unit. While minor leaks from fittings and pipes can often be repaired, significant tank leaks or cracks may necessitate replacement. Regular maintenance plays a pivotal role in prolonging the lifespan of water heaters, typically spanning 10 to 20 years. If a hot water system approaches the end of its lifespan and exhibits signs of leakage, replacement becomes a viable solution.

J&G Plumbing Solutions plumber fixing leaking hot water system..

Repair Procedures for Specific Issues

Addressing leaks from anodes or pressure relief valves requires meticulous steps to ensure efficacy and safety:

Replacing a Leaking Hot Water Anode:

  • Turn off power and water supply and drain the tank.
  • Unscrew the old anode rod, apply Teflon tape to the threads of the new rod, and securely insert it into the tank.
  • Reconnect power and water supply, checking for leaks.

Changing a Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve:

  • Turn off the water heater and cut off water supply.
  • Release pressure from the system and replace the valve, applying Teflon tape to the new valve’s threads.
  • Refill the tank and check for leaks.

Other potential leaks may require tightening fittings and valves.

Maintenance is Key

Regular, simple hot water system maintenance is a vital part of owning and operating a hot water system. For you, that means regularly checking and operating the pressure relief valve, doing an occasional sediment flush, and turning to the professionals for your thorough annual servicing and maintenance schedule. Another great option to ensure your hot water system is maintained well is a water heater flush – because prevention is always easier than implementing a fix. Check out our 4 steps below!

Rinai Hot water unit mounted on an outside wall.

A Water System Flush in 4 Easy DIY Steps

As for precisely how to go about flushing water heaters? The good news is that while your skilled and experienced plumber’s professional methods, tools and products will always do the most thorough job, a water heater flush is something you can do at home. The even better news is that it’s not difficult at all – especially if you follow these simple steps! You might be asking ‘How often should you drain your water heater for a flush’? The answer is simply: at least once a year.

1. Turn it off

Whether your hot water system is powered by gas or electricity, power it down – because you don’t want those burners to fire up while you’re servicing it. Also, make sure the cold water inlet is closed.

2. Attach a hose

Find the drain valve, which will be located near the bottom of the tank. Before proceeding, understand that the water you’re about to drain out is likely very hot. Now, simply attach a normal garden hose to the valve, open the pressure relief valve at the top of the tank, open the drain valve and watch the water begin to drain out in a controlled manner.

3. Clear any clogs

If there’s plenty of sediment in your tank, it’s possible some chunks are going to clog up that drainage valve. In that case, detach the hose and use a tool like a long screwdriver to try to dislodge and break up the clogs.

4. Complete the process

Once the water coming out of your hose stops, check that the entire tank is now empty. And that’s it! The flush is complete! Remove the hose, return all the valves to their original positions, and turn the cold water inlet back. Now, head into the house and turn on a hot water tap, allowing any air bubbles in the pipes to clear.

Turn the hot water system back on. You are done!

Hot Water System Lifespan:

Now, let’s talk longevity. A well-maintained hot water system can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, but various factors come into play. The type of tank, maintenance regimen, and environmental conditions all impact the lifespan of your water heater. Regular maintenance, including replacing anodes every five years, can help extend its lifespan and prevent unexpected leaks.

Signs of Replacement:

Knowing when to say goodbye can be tough, but fear not! Your hot water system will give you plenty of hints when it’s time to part ways. From mysterious noises to rusty surprises, keep an eye out for those telltale signs that it’s time to pull the plug and usher in a new era of hot water bliss. Decreased hot water pressure, unusual noises, and signs of rust or wear and tear are all red flags that it may be time for a new unit. Additionally, if your system is nearing the end of its expected lifespan, it’s wise to start considering replacement options to avoid unexpected breakdowns.

Plumber using a temperature gauge to test a hot water system.

Warranty Considerations:

Understanding your warranty can save you headaches down the road. While it is not impossible to get replacement units from your manufacturer as part of the warranty, you must have satisfied certain criteria and conditions for this to happen. First, the warranty must not have expired. Second, your reason for demanding a replacement must fall under the poor workmanship, and not the accidental damage category.

Lastly, you may forfeit your warranty rights by using non-genuine replacement parts on your unit. So, it is best to always use parts made by your manufacturer.

Leaking Hot Water System Replacement

In cases where repair is not feasible or safe, replacing the hot water system becomes necessary. However, this process involves intricate steps and should ideally be handled by qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance:

  • Shut off utilities, drain the tank, and disconnect gas or electricity supply.
  • Remove the old water heater and install the new one, ensuring proper connections and safety checks.
  • Activate power or gas supply, refill the tank, and conduct thorough inspections for leaks and functionality.
J&G Plumbing Solutions plumber attending a commercial sit to assess and fix a hot water system.

Seeking Professional Assistance: Call J&G Plumbing Solutions – The Masters in Hot Water Installations & Maintenance

When it comes to battling leaks and conquering hot water woes, don’t go it alone! J&G Plumbing Solutions are known as the best plumbers in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, with 35 years’ experience. Our team of seasoned professionals is here to get the job done right the first time, as we have the knowledge, tools, and certifications to ensure compliance with regulations and Australian industry standards. By entrusting the task to qualified professionals, homeowners can rest assured of a seamless and reliable resolution to their hot water system issues. If you need help choosing the right emergency plumber, check out our 20 point guide to help you choose right.

For high quality, local hot water services with fixed pricing and superior workmanship, don’t hesitate to reach out to J&G Plumbing Solutions. Our team of experts is committed to delivering prompt and efficient solutions, ensuring your hot water system operates optimally for years to come. Contact us today for all your hot water plumbing needs.

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Want to Learn More – How to Fix Hot Water System Leaks

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