Hot water heater leakage

8 years ago my AO Smith water heater failed and my plumber said he could get a replacement/new AO Smith water heater for no charge to me (as it was still under warranty). He would only charge me installation costs.
Turns out his installation costs actually cost me $385! - Supply house handling charge of $75 - Materials of $55 - Labor of $255 (includes, I guess, hauling away the old, etc.)
Anyway, this hot water heater is now slowly leaking water from somewhere(?) underneath the tank. It is not a big leak but I can see a small puddle oozing out from the bottom for about 3 or 4 inches. It doesn't "leak" all the time either. Some days/weeks go by and nothing......then water will appear for a few days at a time - again not a lot of water.
Ideas on what is leaking and if it requires full tank replacement? If it does I don't think I'll be calling my plumber for another "free" water heater costing $385. Maybe a different plumber this time :) I'd prefer to get one at Sears or Home Depot and pay them to install it.
Ideas/suggestions are appreciated. I imagine that this 'new' heater is also under warranty as 8 years seems a short period of time for a water heatr to "go".
Thanks, Walter
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could it be the drain valve or the pressure releif valve on top, when a tank leaks it should continue leaking, not be intermitant
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Walleye wrote:

You'd have to read the specifics of the warranty to see if this one is covered too.
Put a cup under the relief valve outlet just to be sure the water isn't coming from there.
Only leaks sometimes suggests pressure build-up due to thermal expansion. (Maybe.)
Sometimes the drain valve develops a hairline crack (is this one plastic?) which will leak a little. The leak doesn't show on the outside of the tank; it dribbles into the insulation and finally out the bottom. You can look closely at the valve (where it meets the tank) to see any leak evidence.
Inspect the fittings on top of the tank for small leaks too. These will soak the insulation and finally drip out the bottom.
Unless the tank itself has failed, warranty probably not covering.
Jim
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One other idea. While it is not all that common, under the right conditions you can get enough condensation from a gas hot water heater do drip. Does it do it only on days with a lot of moisture? Of course this is no help at all if it is electric.
I would guess the pressure relief valve. This could be a sign of high water pressure and/or heat expansion.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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