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Water Heater Leaking

Hi,

My hot water heater just started leaking. It leaks about a drip every ten seconds or so. I have zero experience with water heaters. Is there anything I can try to save the $$ of hiring a pro? If not, how dangerous is it to have a leaking water heater and how soon should I get the problem solved?

Thanks in advanced

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,923
    Where, exactly, is it leaking from? Some leaks are simple -- such as the drain valve. Or a little less simple. Some are real warnings of danger -- like the pressure relief valve dripping (if it is, kindly go and turn the water heater off before you come back and answer).

    But one would have to know where the leak is from... I might add that I've never known a leak to get smaller with time.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    chaznied
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,757
    If it's over 13 years get a new one.
    chaznied
  • chaznied
    chaznied Member Posts: 39
    Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for your reply, I'm not sure where it's coming from other than the bottom of the heater itself. How can I be sure my son and I aren't in danger?
  • chaznied
    chaznied Member Posts: 39
    not sure how old, just bought the house 1.5 years ago
  • chaznied
    chaznied Member Posts: 39
    okay, it's 15 years old
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,923
    Danger is probably -- thought not certainly -- minimal. I take it the temperature of the hot water is reasonable?

    That said -- any leaks from around the bottom of the heater really aren't repairable. I'd get a new one as soon as I could. It's not difficult.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    chaznied
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,545
    Hello, A fifteen years, you are probably getting a new heater, but you could try and identify the source of the leak first. If it's a gas heater check in the combustion chamber and all fittings (tank penetrations). If it's electric, just check all fittings. You might be in luck and have a leaky fitting. Always begin looking for leaks from the top of the heater and work your way down.
    With a new heater (if you get one) make sure a second magnesium anode rod is added to the tank. This will add years to the life of the tank even if you don't service it periodically.

    Yours, Larry
    chaznied
  • chaznied
    chaznied Member Posts: 39
    is the removal of an old and installation of a new water heater something your average Joe can handle? and by average Joe I mean someone who has never done that before or really nothing like it but who is somewhat comfortable with tools?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,923
    edited December 2017
    I'd have to make that a very qualified "yes". There are just so many possibilities -- both in terms of the old installation and the new, and in terms of the average Joe's capabilities.

    Some things are show stoppers: if this is a gas fired or oil fired heater, I'd have to say no I really don't think either working with gas is something the average Joe should attemp, and setting up an oil burner -- even if one got the piping leak tight -- is not something which can be done without the proper equipment. If it is electric, probably -- if said average Joe is careful and knows how to do electrical wiring correctly. Which is a definite maybe.

    In terms of the actual plumbing, again. If the old unit was installed using unions, perhaps not that difficult. Soldering pipe is a bit of an art, but masterable.

    I might add, though, that there is another thread active now -- "total repipe by homeowner" -- which shows what can be done!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    chaznied
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,757
    Trust me you don't want too do it if you have too ask "can I do it "
    This is what will happen. "Honey I;m going to stay at my sisters house until we have hot water and all the water thats in the basement is gone. " you have to decide if that a good thing or not.
    CTOilHeatchaznied
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,545
    If you can find someone who has both the skills and the willingness to let you work alongside, that might be the best way to get a good and safe job done, while possibly saving some money and learning about how to do this work.

    Yours, Larry
  • chaznied
    chaznied Member Posts: 39
    So i'm seriously considering a tankless replacement and I'm finding potential replacements for around the same price as the traditional one...any opinions traditional vs. tankless?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,923
    I have decidedly mixed feelings about tankless water heaters. The variety which is located at or very very close to the point of use has some real advantages -- from the standpoint of instant, or nearly instant, hot water. They are very common in the UK -- most bathrooms have some variation on the theme. The installations which serve a whole house, though... not so sure. They have to be sized for the potential demand, of course; depending on the house, this may be fairly high.

    Thus for a tankless, you need either a pretty good sized gas line (if it is gas) or a pretty hefty electrical service, if it is electric. Either one is very likely to be a good deal bigger than what was serving the existing tank type heater. This makes the new installation somewhat more difficult -- and beyond the safe capability of many do-it-yourself homeowners (especially for gas).

    The tank type units, however, usually are pretty much a swap in/swap out proposition, which isn't usually all that hard to manage. A little less efficient, perhaps -- one does have some standby losses -- but to my mind this isn't a problem, as the lost heat winds up in the house anyway. The hot water is just as quick reaching the fixtures as a whole house tankless would be -- and you don't have the problem of the thing switching off at low flows.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    chaznied
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,545
    Hello, I service water heaters for a living and am the one who gets called when things don't work properly. I've taken a lot of calls for tankless units that simply didn't behave the way tank type heaters do. If you want efficiency, get a condensing tank-type heater as they are right up there with the best tankless. As to hot water delivery, tankless must heat up first, which adds 7 to 15 seconds to the wait time. A good middle ground is in a heater made by HTP, the Crossover... it should have been named R2D2. It has some storage and a big burner and the combination actually works. Here's a link: http://www.htproducts.com/RGH75100.html

    Tankless certainly have a place, but in my opinion have been oversold.

    Yours, Larry