Why is My Water Heater Overflow Leaking?

leaking water heater overflow

Water heater leaking issue is a common occurrence in every home. Every time you see water pudding out near a pipe, you start worrying about the possible leakage. Usually, people confuse condensed droplets with water leakage.

This condensation occurs because of the cold water line passing nearby to the hot water supply. First, you need to confirm if the water bothering you is coming out as a result of a leakage or if it is simply due to condensation.

The condensed water droplets are easy to deal with. You can put a tower around and get rid of the water droplets. However, if the issue is more complicated than condensation, you will need to find the root cause first and then find the solution. We will be concerned with the water leaking around the water in this article though.

Troubleshooting a Leaking Water Heater Overflow:


Causes of Leakage:

There might be a number of different reasons for a leaking water heater like a faulty valve and a deteriorated tank etc. A faulty overflow pipe which is also known as the pressure relief valve can also be a reason for leaking water. In this article,  the prime focus shall remain on the leakage issue related to this pressure relief valve.

What Do We Call an Overflow?

An overflow is a device that is responsible for taking the water out once the pressure of the inside rises too high. This is the reason that the leakage issues related to the overflow should not be ignored. You should also check it after the first time installation.

A few troubleshooting steps are listed below:

  • Check the pressure relief valve and saturation level of water on the floor.
  • Observe any leakage around the overflow.
  • Examine the leakage and if it is the dirt that has compromised the seal.

We will briefly explain these steps for clarity in the subsections to follow.

Check the Status of the Pressure Relief Valve:

Observe the status of your pressure relief valve. Check if there is little or no water in it and check the saturation level of water on the floor as well. If there is no water in the tank and the floor is saturated, it is highly likely that the overflow has blown.

If this is the case, try to turn the input supply of the water heater and shut it off completely. In some of these scenarios, you will need to replace the overflow while in the worst-case scenario, you may need to replace the heater itself.

Re-coating of Threads:

Check the threads that connect the overflow to the heater. If the leakage is around these threads or you feel it is the main reason for leakage, you may have to re-coat the thread. You will need to pull the handle on the valve above to release the pressure inside and then start working.

Unscrew the extension tube with the help of an adjustable wrench. Afterward, you will need to coat the thread again with the help of a plumber’s pipe compound. Now fix the valve firmly and reattach the extension tube.

Check if the Leak is Caused by Dirt or any Other Particle:

Turn off the heater and open and close the valve multiple times. Put a bucket underneath and you will see water splashing from the overflow tube and onto the floor. Take out the water from the valve and free any obstacle that is causing the leakage. Scrutinize the outcome two days after this experiment.  If the valve still does not reseal itself, you will need to replace it.

leaking water heater

What if All the General Solutions do not Work?

If all the general solutions do not work in your case, you will need to replace the valve and in the worst-case scenario, the heater itself. This is not everyone’s cup of tea to replace an overflow valve of a water heater. This article will help you out in replacing the old valve with a new one to avoid the leakage of water.

  1. Turn off the input supply of the water heater. If it is a gas-operated heater, shut the gas inlet valve. If electricity is the input source, just flip the breaker off. Prevent the cold water supply from going into the heater as well.
  2. Open the drain valve to take the water out of the tank and reduce the pressure inside.  Get rid of the overflow pipe afterward. This pipe is usually glued or soldered to the assembly.
  3. Unscrew the old valve using a pipe wrench and screw the new one. Make sure it is tightened firmly and Teflon tape is applied on the threads as well.
  4. Now turn the input supply and inlet of cold water on. Observe the performance of the new valve and call the plumber if you need professional help.

Final Words:

Quite often we find our pipes and valves puddling water but we hardly pay attention to them and wait for them to create a bigger mess for us. However, the leaking water heater especially from the overflow is not something that can be ignored.

The overflow is for safety purposes and prevents the pressure inside the tank to build up too high. That is why this article covers all the important aspects that you need to know about the leaking overflow of a water heater. The troubleshooting steps help you put the heater back in normal operating mode.

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