How to Fix a Leaking Water Heater
LESLIE: The Money Pit welcomes Kevin from Texas with a water heater question.
How can we help, Kevin?
KEVIN: Well, my wife and I discovered a small stain in the ceiling, so I immediately went into the attic and I discovered that one of the valves entering the water heater was leaking. It was just a miniscule leak, I mean the smallest leak you could ever imagine, but over time it built up. I went up and put a wrench on the valve and it – I think it cured the leak. Well, after an initial investigation, I went back there several months later and found that all the copper pipe was oxidating.
TOM: Yeah, well that water is coming from somewhere. Where was that coming from? Where was it leaking?
KEVIN: The valve on one of the pipes entering the water heater had a slight leak.
TOM: So what you need to do here is either to replace the valve or replace the valve seat. Because that’s the only way you’re going to fix this. You’re cranking it down against a bad seat and it’s going to continue to leak. So tightening it up is one thing but if it’s still leaking you’ve got a bad valve and it’s just a matter of replacing that or replacing the valve seat. Either way, you’ve got a repair that has to be done and you might be wise to call a plumber if you’ve not ever cut apart plumbing before.
KEVIN: Right. That’s great advice. My question is my house is ten years old. Is it a good time to actually replace the water heater or not?
TOM: Yeah, probably is. With the cost of that repair, a new water heater would be appropriate at ten years. You know, typically I wouldn’t tell you to do it if you weren’t doing it in conjunction with another repair. But if the situation is that you’ve got to cut that valve out anyway you’re halfway towards replacing the water heater at that point, so why not buy a new water heater and install it and have the piece of mind of not having to worry about an old water heater that leaks. Because wouldn’t it just be the case that the good news is you got that valve fixed and then a month later the water heater ruptures and floods out your ceiling?
KEVIN: That is great advice. I love your show and I’m so glad y’all called me back because I’m going to have it all done at one time.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kevin. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.