Leaking water heater

marknmtMarch 6, 2012

Our 6 year old water heater is leaking.

Could someone please advise me in choosing a new one, and take a guess as to how much time I have before the existing heater fails completely?

Is there anything I can do to ensure longer life from the new unit?



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Draining a WH at least annually will promote longer service life.

If you have hard water or the PH is off then that should be corrected to promote longer service life of all appliances, fixtures, and plumbing.

A leaking WH will not heal itself and needs to be replaced ASAP.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 11:04AM
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gas or electric?

6 years seems short to me.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 5:07PM
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Since the OP's WH is leaking it's not a burner or element problem so gas or electric may not be significant.

6 years can be short... around here the average life for a WH is about 2-2.5 years. We have REALLY hard water. Mine is 16+ years old.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Is it a 6 year warranty WH? If so, it has lived its life, anything past that 6 year point is a bonus.

There are many types of water qualities that can have a negative impact on a WH - well, softened, and extremely hard water.

Yearly draining of the WH is one way to extend the life of the WH; however, the most effective way is to replace the anode (sacrficial rod) once every year or two depending on the type of water you have.

In terms of a a replacement - I am an advocate of Bradford White products (I do not work or represent them I just like the quality).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 7:46PM
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I appreciate all the answers.

I should have said that it's a 40 gallon gas Rheem "Fury" model. I installed it in September, 2005. No problems until now. But yes, we do have very hard water and no water softener.

One salesman pointed out the possibility of condensation, but I think our little puddle is bigger than that. We're running a humidifier tonight just in case, but I think we need to buy a new WH.

Apparently there are two readily available WH makes around here, sold under various names but all either Rheem or State. I might find a Bradford White at a plumbing supply house. I would be willing to pay up for a better heater if the consensus is that I'd be getting my money's worth.

I should have drained the heater annually but I didn't, and I was told not to bother with the anode. Wish I had done both. I've worried about damaging the WH getting the anode out (I've read descriptions involving cheaters to break it free) and would appreciate comments about that.

Thanks again for all your comments. It's been invaluable.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:56PM
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If the puddle is large enough to worry you then you have a leak.

When you've dealt with the new WH look into getting your hard water corrected cause it's having the same effect on all your other appliances and fixtures.

My water is 30 gpg hard and my softener brings it down to 0 hardness. I drain my 16+ year old WH at least once a year. I checked the anode a couple years ago and it is still serviceable. As I posted, the average life for a WH around here is about 2-2.5 years. The softener has more than paid for itself just in not replacing five or six water heaters.

And... DO drain your WH at least once a year.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 10:55PM
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Thanks again. We're replacing it this morning. I'll start looking at water softeners.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:42AM
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The only possible benefit from "draining" the heater is to flush out sediment that may have collected in the bottom. Connecting a hose to the drain and letting the supply pressure push water through the hose until it runs clear seems to me to be the best plan. Shutting off the supply and draining the heater completely probably leaves more sediment inside than leaving the pressure on. And after the flushable sediment is out, draining the remainder of the water accomplishes no positive purpose.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:08AM
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Whatever you do, you should get this repaired or simply shut the heater down. The water that's leaking out the top fitting will be draining down into the interior of the outer shell, which is where the wiring is. I've seen units fry the upper thermostat and the element from water dribbling onto the wiring there. This could be very dangerous. If you are handy with tools and familiar with pipe wrenches and how they work and you actually have some of them, then drain some of the water out of the tank, while you have the valve shut off on top, shut off the electricity and try to replace the parts that are leaking, being sure to wrap all male pipe threads with some teflon tape. Tighten all joints good and snug and open the valve and see if it still leaks. If it does and you can't afford some professional help, I'd just shut off the water valve on the feed line to the heater and wait for hubby. You'd be better off getting along without hot water from the tap for a couple weeks, than ruining the unit.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tarzana Plumbing

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:01PM
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Thank you Bus. I'd also be grateful if you'd speak to the matter of sacrificial nodes- how long they should be expected to last, how traumatic it is to change them out.

Thank you also Curtis. I guess I should have mentioned in my original post that it is an NG unit I'm replacing, that I have all the tools, that I installed the failing unit, and that I am hubby.

There is no doubt that I can use professional help, however; on that account you guessed correctly.

Anyhow, it's a done deal. I got the new one in yesterday and it's working fine. And I also managed to make a batch of bread, but I bailed on supper; we ordered pizza.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Anode life? Every situation is different due to variations in water analysis. Temperature setting of the heater will affect how quickly the anode reacts, if it does, with the water. Most users do not even know when the anode is depleted because they do not remove and inspect it -- and that would include me.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Hey Mark, I know it's too late for this because you've already replaced yours, but I just wanted to share this with others: our 2 year old water tank started leaking a couple of months ago, but it turned out to be from the drain valve. The valve and the pipe that attaches it to the tank is made of plastic, and someone (my son?) probably bumped into it at some time and caused a crack. Over time it started to dribble a bit. DH replaced the valve and pipe with a new one and it hardly cost anything!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 1:52PM
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