Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Diagnosing the Cause of Leaks from our Water Heater

Last week, I checked in our utility room and saw a couple of small puddles below our gas water heater. I though, "It's finally time to replace our water heater." As background, it is the original water heater in our house, which was built 21 years ago. Until now, we haven't had any major issues with it. Two years ago, the pilot light went out, but I was able to re-light it. Last summer, I drained the tank, for the first time in five years, and there was no sediment in the tank.

Thinking that the water tank was leaking, I checked the Internet to confirm my diagnosis. To my surprise, I found three possible causes of the puddles. The first was a tank leak, which would require replacing the water heater. The second was condensation resulting from cold water filling the water heater, which is a normal occurrence in cold months. The third was a valve leak, which might require tightening or changing the valve. Since valve connections were dry and the puddling occurred shortly after a bath was drawn, I thought the water might be due to condensation.

As a precaution, I got an Internet estimate for replacing our water heater from a local retailer. Afterwards, I called the store to confirm the estimate of $1069 and asked a few questions.

Q. About how long do water heaters last?
A. About 12-13 years.

Q. Can puddles be caused by condensation?
A. Yes.

Q. How can I tell the difference from a leaking tank?
A. Puddles from condensation disappear. Puddles from leaks are always there.

That was enough information for me to do the final trouble shooting. Within a day, I confirmed that the puddles were disappearing, meaning we did not have a leak. Thus, for now, the water heater is still functioning well and we won't be replacing it.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

This is not financial or maintenance advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

No comments: