Water heaters are found in various locations throughout a house. Some are in the basement, other in the attic or a crawlspace and still others in closets. Unfortunately, a major leak from a water heater usually requires immediate plumbing help and causes significant damage. While a minor leak is no cause for panic, it will eventually result in a significant amount of damage if it is not addressed promptly and properly.
There are only two main areas where a water heater will leak; at the inflow and outflow pipes or in the water storage tank. Identifying the source of the leak is the first step in solving the problem and determining whether or not you need professional plumbing help.
If the leak is discovered to come from one of the pipes connected to the water heater, the fix is relatively simple and can usually be performed by a do-it-yourself homeowner. However, the pipes and water heater are sometimes located in awkward spaces and having the right tools and experience make the job much easier for professional plumbing help.
In you choose to fix a leaky connection yourself, be sure that all utility connections, gas and especially electricity are turned off before you start the project. Forgetting to shut off the water or gas will cause a minor inconvenience while you remedy the situation but electricity and water do not mix and can readily kill you.
Once the utilities are off, it is a simple matter to remove and replace the leaking pipes. Be sure to use the same type of pipe, the correct type of pipe joint tape and check your connections when you are done.
A damaged storage tank on a water heater requires significantly more work to correct as you will have to undo all utility connections, transport, the used and new water heater to the space and reattach the connections. In most cases you will require the services of a friend or assistant.
Professional plumbing help can perform these tasks far easier, far faster and in a far safer manner than the homeowner. The homeowner should carefully weigh the risks versus the costs before attempting this repair. Lastly, leaky water heaters are only a major problem when they fail catastrophically and cause collateral damage. Consider a yearly inspection to help eliminate this problem.