How Long Will A Water Heater Last After It Starts Leaking?

How Long Will A Water Heater Last After It Starts Leakin

After looking at my water heater, I found something alarming. It was leaking. Aside from the water on the floor, I was concerned with whether I would need to replace it.

So how long will a water heater last after it starts leaking? It will depend on the cause of the leak. If it can be repaired, you might be able to get a few more years of use from the heater. If not, you’ll need to replace the water heater. Most water heaters will need to be replaced every 10 to 13 years.

Finding a leak can indicate big problems with your water heater. You’ll need to take action immediately, to prevent this issue from getting worse. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that you’ll need to think about when deciding whether it’s time to replace the water heater.

What Is Causing A Water Heater Leak?

There are a few reasons why your water heater might be leaking.

You might have a faulty temperature and pressure relief valve. It’s also possible that you have a problem with the drain valve. Third, the issue might lie with the tank.

When you notice that your water heater is leaking, the first thing that you need to do is find the source of the leak. There are a few ways that you can do this. However, it’s best to start by finding out where the water is coming from. To do this, place towels or paper around the heater. This will give you an idea of which part might be leaking.

In some cases, you might notice that the leak stops for a few days. If this happens, it likely isn’t a serious issue. It might just have been condensation building up on the water heater. However, you should still keep an eye on it. This will let you re-check the problem if it starts leaking again.

If you do discover a serious leak, there are three components that you’ll need to check. These are; the temperature valve, the drain valve, and the tank. Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas, so you’ll be able to find the cause of the issue.

Temperature And Pressure Relief Valve

The first place to look is the temperature and pressure relief valve. This is designed to regulate the temperature and pressure inside the tank. If this valve isn’t working, it could lead to serious safety issues. The pressure might build-up to dangerous levels. In rare cases, this has caused the tank to explode. You’ll be able to test this component yourself.

You’ll need to know where the water shut-off valve. You’ll also need to be able to know how to turn off the power. This ensures that you’ll be prepared if something goes wrong. Thankfully, this is a fairly straightforward test, so it’s unlikely that you’ll have any serious issues.

When you’re ready to perform the test, go to the temperature and pressure relief valve. You’ll see a small test handle. Turning this valve up will allow water to run into the overflow pipe. If you can do this fairly easily, this valve is likely in good condition. If you struggle to turn it on, or you can’t turn it off again, the valve needs to be replaced.

Leave the test valve open for a few minutes. This allows any built-up sediment to be removed. Then, close the valve. It’s recommended that you perform this test every year. Typically, the valve will need to be replaced every three years.

If, during the test, you experience problems, turn the power and water off. Then, try to correct the issue. If you can’t, you will need to call in a plumber. They will then remove and replace the valve.

Drain Valve

Another part that you might want to check is the drain valve. This is located at the bottom of the heater and will allow you to drain the tank during maintenance. In this case, you should be able to see whether or not the valve will need to be replaced. If it’s faulty it will be leaking.

In some cases, the leak might be caused because the valve wasn’t screwed tightly enough. To fix this, simply tighten the valve. If this solves the problem, you won’t need to worry about replacing it.

If the leak continues, you’ll need to replace the drain valve. To do this, you’ll have to drain the heater. Then, you’ll need to remove the old drain valve. Finally, you’ll need to put in the new one and test it. This should stop the leak.


The third common reason why a water heater might be leaking is because of a problem with the tank. This is where the vast majority of the water is stored. Typically, there will be issues if sediment begins to build-up. This can cause the steel to begin to crack. The longer this continues, the worse the leaking will get.

When this happens, it can cause serious problems. In this case, you will need to call in a professional plumber. They will be able to investigate the problem and find the cause. Then, they will need to decide whether the tank can be repaired or if the heater needs to be replaced.

How Do You Repair A Leaking Water Heater?

Once you’ve found the source of the leak, you’ll be able to start trying to fix it. First, you’ll need to disconnect the water. Then, you’ll need to turn off the heater. Finally, you’ll be able to replace the damaged part.

To stop the leak, you’ll often need to replace a broken part. Before you do any maintenance, you’ll need to make sure that you have turned off the water. There should be a cold water valve that flows into the heater. Turning this off will stop the water from flowing.

The next thing that you’ll need to do is turn off the power. If you have a gas model, you’ll need to turn off the valve, halting the flow of gas. If you have an electric model, you’ll need to flip the switch, turning it off.

Once you’ve disconnected the power and the water, you’ll be able to start fixing the leak. In some cases, you might just need to replace a defective part. You should be able to do this yourself. If repairing the problem yourself, be cautious. Test the parts carefully to check they were installed properly.

However, in other cases, you will need to do more serious repairs. For example, you might need to remove the old water heater and replace it. In this case, it’s best to call in a professional plumber. They will be able to help you ensure that it’s been installed correctly.

How Long Do Water Heaters Typically Last?

In most cases, a water heater will last for between 10 and 13 years. After this, it will require a lot more maintenance to keep working properly.

If you have an older water heater, the leak might be caused by old age. During its life, the water heater often builds sediment, because of the minerals in the water. These sediments build-up at the base of the tank. This can often cause some problems.

For example, it’s common for the sediment to cause the tank to crack. This can lead to leaking, which will get progressively worse over time. In other cases, it can lead to rusting around the base of the water heater.

Once the tank has been sufficiently damaged, you will need to replace the water heater. If you don’t the problems will get worse. There could be issues with internal pressure regulation. In rare cases, this can cause the water heater to explode.

Typically, the average lifespan for a water heater is between 10 to 13 years. After this time, the chances that serious issues will develop becomes more likely. To extend its lifespan, you can get regular servicing. This will let you spot, and deal with issues, faster.

Final Thoughts

How long a water heater will last after it starts leaking will depend on two things. The type of leak and how easy it is to fix. Not every leak is a sign that the water heater needs to be replaced. But the older the heater is, the more likely that it will be a serious issue. If you can’t solve it, you’ll have no choice but to replace the unit.

Dean Luoma

As a long-time homeowner, Dean has been working on his own home projects for over 30 years. He is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota, helping clients with the buying and selling of their homes.

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