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Why is My Water Heater Leaking and Signs It’s Time to Replace It

Leaking hot water heater needs replacement

Why is My Water Heater Leaking and Signs It’s Time to Replace It

Nothing throws a wrench in your day like issues with your hot water heater. If you discover that it’s leaking, you’re going to want to identify the source of the leak right away. Some issues that cause leaking might spell the end of your hot water heater’s life, but some are easily fixed by a small repair or replacement part. If your hot water heater is leaking, we at The Plumbing Works in Lancaster, PA have got your back! Here are some common causes of leaks to be on the lookout for, and how to know when it’s time to get a whole new hot water heater.

Faulty Cold and Hot Water Connections

The source of your hot water heater leak might be in the pipe that supplies cold water to the tank or the pipe that takes the hot water back out again. Leaks in the connections of these pipes can be fairly easy to fix and you might even be able to DIY them, but if the leak is in the pipe itself, you’ll need a professional’s help to fix it.

Loose Gaskets

To determine if the gaskets on your tank have worked themselves loose, cut the power to your hot water heater and remove the hatch covers so that you can get to the gaskets. Once you find the gaskets, you can determine whether or not they’re the source of the leak. If they are, the entire tank will need to be drained and the electrical components will need to be removed so they can be replaced. An experienced plumber can help you with that.

Damaged Drain Valve

Water that pools at the base of the tank might make you think that the tank itself is leaking, but it might actually be coming from the heater drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. This is an issue that a professional will have to address, since fixing it requires a full flush of the tank and cleaning away any buildup, and might require replacing the valve altogether.

Damaged Tank

When your water heater is leaking from the tank, it’s possible that it’s just at the end of its lifespan. A leaking tank requires a complete replacement by a professional.

What to Look For

A hot water heater will usually give some warning signs before it completely dies, and keeping an eye out for these problems can help you to prevent more serious problems from occurring. Here’s what to look for!


Visible rust or corrosion on the outside of your water heater is almost always a sign that there are some serious leaks going on inside. If you see these signs on your heater, they should not be ignored unless you know of a circumstance where a heater that isn’t very old and is functioning well might have been exposed to external moisture, like flooding or an overly damp room.

Pilot Light

There are a few potential causes for a pilot light that won’t stay lit, like a faulty thermocouple (the part that controls the gas flow to the burner) or buildup of dust and debris. However, on an older heater, it might indicate rust on the housing of the pilot light and inside the tank as well. A professional plumber can help you to determine if an issue with your pilot light will mean a small repair or replacing the whole heater.

Water Issues

Leaks aren’t the only water problem that you can have with an aging heater. If your water isn’t hot all the time, or if it’s cloudy or discolored when it comes out of the tap, it’s a sign that things aren’t functioning the way they should be inside the tank of your hot water heater. These problems are possible for a plumber to fix temporarily, but they are often a sign that your heater is on its way out.


Everyone’s house, whether new or old, makes some odd noises from time to time, but strange noises like pings, bangs, thumps, or rumbles from your hot water heater, it’s a sign that sediment is building up inside that can eventually lead to leaks and the end of your heater. Flushing your hot water heater regularly can help with this problem, but if your tank already isn’t working well and it’s noisy most of the time, it’s probably time to replace the entire thing.


Leaks and other issues with your hot water heater could be a sign that it’s time for a complete replacement, but they can also indicate the need for some basic repairs and maintenance. Either way, the assistance of an experienced plumber like the ones on our team at The Plumbing Works will help you to get the hot water in your home flowing smoothly again! For more help, please contact us to discuss your problem!