How to handle a leaky water heater

If your water heater is leaking, follow these three steps:

1. Cut the power: This is the very first thing you need to do when you find a hot water leak. Turn off the energy source leading to:

  • Gas water heater: Find your water heater’s thermostat. You should see a little knob with the settings: ON, OFF, and PILOT. Switch it to OFF or PILOT to shut off the gas and make the heater safe to work on.
  • Electric water heater: Go to your breaker panel and find the breaker labeled “water heater” and turn it off to cut the power to your water heater.

2. Shut off the water: Turn off the water by finding the cold water line leading to your water heater. There should be a shutoff valve on it. Turn it to the right until it closes completely. This will cut off the water running to the water heater and allow you to move on to the next step.

3. Drain the water tank: If you have a tank (traditional) water heater, draining your water heater is the most important step. It also happens to be the most involved! To drain your water heater tank:

  • Find the drain valve near the bottom of your water heater and attach a garden hose to it.
  • Run the hose to a floor drain, sump pit, or outside if convenient.
  • With the hose in place, open the valve (on older hot water heaters, this may look like an ordinary spigot; on newer systems, there’s a drain stem with a slot for a screwdriver).
    NOTE: Once you open the drain valve, you may notice the water doesn’t flow freely. This is because a vacuum has built up in the water heater.
  • To break the vacuum, open any hot water faucet in your home. This will let air into the water tank allowing it to drain. Once you establish good flow, the whole tank should drain in about an hour but could be longer with larger systems.

Once the water heater is drained, it’s time to contact Douglas E. Wilson Plumbing for water heating repair! We’ll find the location of the leak and take care of it quickly. Call us today at (805) 963-3454 for fast service.