So you walk into the basement or garage and there’s a rapidly growing pool of water in the area around your hot water tank, after thinking “this is going to be expensive” your next thought will likely be “I’ve got to contain this water before things get worse.” So what should you do? In this situation you’ve likely just gotten signed up for the exciting purchase of a new hot water heater, and while that may not have been on your Christmas list it’s definitely a necessary component of home ownership.
The average life for a hot water heater is 8-12 years so most people will need to purchase several over the course of a lifetime. There are a variety of factors that determine which end of that range you’ll end up on. Water quality – pH levels, chlorine, volume of sediment – these will all impact the life of your hot water tank. Maintenance – are you someone that completes annual maintenance or have you not looked at the hot water tank since the day it was installed? Quality of the product – of course if the previous hot water heater was a lower quality product than it’s likely to go belly up sooner than a better product. Location – if your hot water heater is located in the garage or any other space that isn’t temperature controlled it will likely have a shorter life as well. Water Pressure – if the water pressure coming into your home is too high it will put additional stress on the system and can cause premature failure.
If you’ve got water around the base of your hot water tank there are a few steps to take immediately. You’ll want to drain the water that’s still in the tank before it too ends up on the floor. Start by turning off the gas or power running to the water heater. Next turn off the cold water supply that is trying to keep refilling the tank. Then hook a garden hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank and run it outside or to a floor drain. Open that drain valve as well as the pressure relief valve on the top of the tank and the water should begin to flow out.
If water does not begin to drain through the hose than more than likely sediment has built up inside the tank to the point that it’s blocking the drain valve. Before you try to unclog it allow the tank to sit with the power/gas turned off for 24 hours so the water temperature cools and you avoid getting burned. Next get a stiff wire or coat hanger and insert it into the drain valve. Twist it around to loosen the debris. Once water begins to flow turn the valve off and reconnect the hose.
Once you’ve got the water situation under control you’ll likely need to call All Star Plumbing and Restoration to get started on a solution. We will come out and take a look to help you determine whether there’s a problem that can be fixed or whether it’s time to bring in a new tank. We can also make recommendations based on your set-up as to the type and model of hot water tank that might be best.