I noticed a leak from the top of our 15 year old Rheem water heater.
I touched the water and it was warm. So I looked near the hot water
pipe coming out from the top of the heater and that's where it seems to
be leaking from. So, I shut off the valve on that pipe, which means NO
hot water supply to the house. That stopped the leak from the top.
If I turn the valve again, it seem leak under that pipe and then starts
flowing down the heater..
So, my questions are:
1) Is shutting the valve enough to prevent any further leaking ? i.e.
should I shut the gas too to be safe ?
2) I am assuming the sealant near where the pipe is connected to the
heater is leaking. Can there be other explainations to what I see ?
3) If it is a leak in the pipe, can I try to open the connection and
apply a pipe sealant and re-connect it ? Is that safe ? Any "pressure"
thing to be aware off ?
4) Am I better off calling a plumber or installer (who?) ? Is this a
complicated thing to fix ?
HELP ! Its midnight now and my wife's going to realize in the morning
that there's no hot water !
On 11 Sep 2006 22:04:58 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
You provided all the details except the type of pipe you have.
I assume it galv. steel. Yes, remove the pipe, and replace that
piece. Apply teflon tape. Pipes tend to corrode right where they
enter a water heater, and you probably got a tiny hole at the threads.
Your magnesium anode is probably dead inside the heater, that makes
the pipes corrode and rust faster. With the water off, shut off the
gas to the pilot position. You can leave the pilot light on. If for
no other reason, you will only be wasting gas till the water works
Warning, that pipe might not come out real easy after 15 years. You
could snap it off or damage the heater. Be prepared to replace the
heater if you do, unless you are real handy with pipe threading and
removal of broken pieces. But you may be lucky too....
If it happens, dont cry over it. 15 years is pretty much the life of
a water heater.
Sure, call a plumber if you are afraid of the job, but if you are
handy, give it a try, and if you got to replace the heater, it's not
all that hard. You'll save money. Just replace the pipes above the
heater. THey always turn to shit up there. Replace them to the
nearest union. A new heater may be taller or shorter, so some pipe
changes may occur, but those are the bad ones anyhow. They do sell
flex pipes for that use too.
The gas pipe could also be too short or long if the new tank is
different so try to get one that matches as close as possible. On gas
pipes, use pipe dope or the yellow teflon that says "FOR GAS".
Be sure to apply dish soap water to gas pipe threads to test for
The night (near midnight as well) you discover a leaking water heater
is not the time to learn about water heaters & plumbing........but I
suppose a situation like this can provide some motivation
1) Is shutting the valve enough to prevent any further leaking ?
shutting off the inlet cold water to the w/h will prevent more cold
water from entering the w/h to make up for the water leaking out.....it
will not prevent the hot water from running back into the heater from
the rest of the house & leaking out but since the water heater will not
be under much pressure it will most likely not leak
i.e. should I shut the gas too to be safe ? depending on how
substaintial the water leak is I might leave the gas on (to have hot
water in the AM) or I might turn it off
yes there can be others, cannot tell from here based on your
maybe the 15 year old w/h is just worn out & leaking....I've had w/h's
last 20 years + and had others gone in less than 10.....depends on the
water in your area
yes...btw pipes rarely leak...pipe joints leak
Is that safe ? yes if done correctly
>Any "pressure" thing to be aware off ?
if the water & gas iare off....the only pressure you'll see the
elevation head from the water in the house that is above the w/h
that would be your call.........plumber can fix (if fixable), plumber
can install as well..........installer wiil R&R w/h.
no..not at all but doing your first water heater solo w/o much general
home repair experience won't be easy....do you have tools? pipe
wrenches, wrenches? experience? a DIY book?
btw you can be the hero (if you're willing to risk it).....if the leak
isn't too bad, turn the water & gas back on in the AM (about an hour
before you need hot water) & fire up it up...that way your wife won't
be w/o hot water in the AM. & you'll look pretty smart :)
Arrange for repair or replacement in the afternoon (or dive in
yourself)...can you leave work earlY?
Thanks for the suggestions (Bob & maradcl..) ! Definitely helped me
guage how difficult/easy this would be.
I don't have all the tools for this and since it is old, I didn't want
to risk trying to open the connections... & break it.
I did the call the plumber this morning. Hopefully they can fix it
quick and not have to replace the heater.
Again, Thanks for the suggestions. It really helped me !
Well sometimes pipes do.
Below is a picture of a galvanized nipple connected to the hot outlet of
a new electric water heater I installed in our home. It corroded through
in less than six months. The other end of the nipple connected to the
steel half of a dielectric union and the copper half of that union
connected to the copper hot water feed to our home.
Considering that the leak took place at the root of a thread, I suppose
you could argue that the "pipe joint" leaked, but that part of the
thread wasn't even engaged. <G>
That's when I figured out that dielectric unions and steel nipples are
much worse than using copper all the way to the tank, because the
insulating gap in the unions is quite effectively shorted out because
the tank and the house piping are both connected to ground.
I threw out those dielectric unions and replaced them with all copper
unions and nipples.
I later found out that the Rheem water heater company agrees with me
On 11 Sep 2006 22:04:58 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
Yes, until you can repair it. Yes, turn off the gas.
Yes, if that's the source of the leak. It is safe if you turn off the
water going to the heater but be aware of any hot water.
Not complicated. Consider replacing the tank with a new tank (about
$250). Usually a plumber or an experienced handyman can do this job.
This is a DIY project or you can pay $100 or so to have it installed.
Gas lines use pipe dope, water connections use Teflon tape.
At 15 years, w/h is almost certifiably in need of recycling. Because of
electrolytic activity. Replacement is cheap, and reflects many
made over 15 years.
I'd round up necessary tubing and fittings to install new heater, and
future r&r to be by breaking/joining unions. In fact, BTDT year ago.
whether you're comfortable with plumbing- read that "sweating tubing
The plumber did recommend that I get a new heater. The leak apparently
is from the "buns" , i.e. the welding joints of the pipes to the
heater. He declared that is unfixable and officially pronounced the
heater as dying.
So, I am off to Home Depot to look at a new heater cost. I just need a
40 gallon one.. What should be a reasonable total cost from an
installer that includes:
1) The heater (short)
2) Installation cost
3) disposal of the old one
4) Applying for the permits & inspection (that's what the plumber said)
$300+ for a gas water heater is cheap? Plus another few hundred to have it
installed. Not cheap.
This is why regular checking of anodes and draining the tank is a good idea.
My tank has been around for 27 years largely because the previous owner did
time for a new tank, even if leak was from threads old tanks arent
worth messing with.
look at it this way tanks are cheap.
assume 500 bucks for a tank that lasts 10 years, thats 50 bucks a year
roughly a dollar a week.
thats really not much.
consider a new larger tank say going from 40 to 50 gallon or higher BTU
adds little in cost, gives more capacity.
new tanks are better insulated and slightly larger in diameter.
something to check before purchase
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.