Leaks are some of the most common issues you will encounter with a water heater. If you notice your water heater leaking from cold water inlet, we can help you resolve the problem. We will explain the common causes and repairs you or a professional installer can perform to correct the problem. We will also explain whether or not you can keep using your water heater while it is leaking and how long it will continue working if you do not fix it.
What you should do if your water heater is leaking from a cold water inlet depends on whether the water heater leak is from the valve or the pipe. If it’s from the valve, the water will drip down the pipe and pool at the top of the water heater.
To fix this, replace the leaky valve. If you’re dealing with a leaking cold water pipe, water will cling to the pipe, which usually occurs from a loose connection, and simply tightening the pipe can fix the issue. If it doesn’t, you may need to call a professional to replace the entire pipe.
Can I Still Use Water Heater if it is Leaking?
No matter where your water heater is leaking from, you should stop using it immediately because the leaking water can lead to significant and irreparable damage if you keep using it. As soon as you notice a water heater leak, you should shut off the water intake valve and address the problem.
What Causes a Hot Water Heater to Leak?
There are plenty of reasons why a water heater can begin leaking. In many cases, corrosion damage and poorly attached valves and pipes can lead to leaking issues. When a water heater’s temperature is set too high, the water heater will be more susceptible to leaks, as the pressure inside the hot water heater is much greater.
While it is possible to correct water heater leaking simply by tightening nozzles and valves, you might be facing a corrosion issue, which would mean you would have to replace the corroded and damaged parts.
No matter what is causing the leak, the first step should always be to identify where the water heater leak is coming from. Properly diagnosing the problem will help you focus your troubleshooting efforts.
Why is My Cold Water Pipe Leaking?
Water heaters often leak from the cold water inlet pipe, so it is a fairly common issue. To make things easy, we will explain how you can quickly and easily correct the problem and stop the leak.
As the name suggests, your water heater uses a cold water inlet valve to draw in cold water from your home’s main water line. This water is then heated and used by the various faucets and hot water appliances in your home.
Leaking Cold Water Valve
The valve sits high up along the cold water pipe, so it is easy to locate. Most cold-water inlet leaks are a result of a corroded or damaged cold water valve. If this is the case, water will drip down the pipe and pool at the top of your water heater. To correct this, replace the valve with a new one, which is a fairly inexpensive repair. We recommend that you hire a professional to replace the valve for you, as improper installation can lead to more serious issues than the original leak.
On the other hand, your cold water valve might be loose or improperly threaded. To address this problem, you would twist the valve so you can set the connection correctly. This will allow cold water to flow into the water heater without dripping or leaking from the valve.
Leaking Cold Water Pipe
If the pipe is leaking rather than the valve, you will notice condensation tends to cling to the pipe. This issue is a best-case scenario, as it is uncommon to have to replace the cold water pipe. Instead, you can simply tighten the pipe’s connections.
If you have tightened the plumbing pipe’s connections and the leak persists, it could be possible that the cold water pipe has corroded. In this case, you would need to replace the cold water pipe and, again, you should hire a professional to do so.
How Are the Cold Water Supply Pipe and Valve Replaced?
While you should hire a qualified professional to replace the cold water inlet components, it is worth learning how the issue is resolved.
First, the plumbing professional would turn the water heater off completely and ensure every hot water faucet and valve in the house, including the pressure relief valve and TPR valve, was securely closed. From there, they would use a cutting tool, which would allow them to remove the corroded or damaged cold water pipe. They would then ensure that the interior of the water tank was clean and all filters were free from excess sediment buildup and limescale.
Once the pipe and the valve are properly removed, the person repairing them would replace them with new items. In many cases, they would also solder the connectors to ensure everything was secure.
How Long Will a Water Heater Last After it has Started to Leak?
While a good hot water heater will last for at least 20 years, a leak, especially one that is not fixed promptly, can significantly reduce the water heater’s overall lifespan. Unfortunately, most leaks cause a significant amount of damage to the rest of the water heater. The corrosion damage that an unaddressed leak can cause can be enough to cut your water heater’s lifespan down to a fraction of what it should be.
While there is no exact timescale for when the water heater will eventually fail, there is no denying that allowing a water heater leak to persist is a major risk. If you are uncomfortable trying to repair the leak yourself, you should do yourself a favor and contact a professional plumber immediately. As mentioned above, it is also a good idea to shut the water heater off as soon as you discover a leak, as this will prevent the leak from causing further expensive water damage.
While choosing a reliable and durable water heater is always a good way to avoid leaks, it is just as important to make sure any water heater you purchase is installed correctly. While some water heaters can be installed quickly and easily, you should always reach out to a professional plumber if you want to make sure everything is done correctly to avoid a leaking water heater.
In some cases, installing the hot water heater yourself can even void the warranty, so it is an unnecessary risk. If your water heater is leaking from the cold water intake, act quickly, and you will be doing everything you can to stop the problem from becoming worse and needing a new water heater!