water heater

Nobody wants a leaking water heater. But it doesn’t automatically mean you need to replace it. Sometimes, when the leak comes from the top, you can still easily fix it without spending too much. But before you can address the problem, you have to identify the cause. So, here are some common reasons your water heater is leaking from the top.

1. Loose Pipe Fittings and Leaking Valves

When your water heater is leaking from the top, one of the places you should check is the area around the hot water and cold water valves. These pipes allow cold water to enter the water heater and hot water to exit it. You can find them at the top of the heater. Cold water may be leaking from the inlet valve found on the cold water pipe. If so, it may have loosened and all you need to do is tighten it with a wrench.

Aside from a loose pipe fitting, the pipe itself may be broken from corrosion. Rust marks and powdery white substance surrounding the pipe are indicative of corrosion and would mean it’s time to replace them. Since it’s difficult to replace a corroded pipe, it’s best to contact a plumber to do the job.

2. Pressure Relief Valve Issues

Every water heater has a safety feature called a pressure relief valve which is often found on the top or on the side of the heater. The pressure relief valve plays a vital role in the water heater as it prevents the tank from bursting. It does so by releasing steam or hot air when the heater has built up pressure and steam inside. 

While the pressure relief valve does release steam, it should not be leaking water. If water is leaking out of the valve, you can open and close it a few times to see if the leaking will stop. Sometimes, you would even need to wait a day or two to find out if the leaking has stopped. 

If the leaking continues even after that time, you likely need to replace the pressure relief valve. You can do it yourself or contact a plumber to help you out.

However, if the leak is coming from the piping attached to the valve instead of the valve itself, this may indicate that the tank is overheated. Another problem would be if the water is incredibly hot. If so, you’ll need to call a plumber to diagnose the problem and find the appropriate solution.

3. Corroded Anode Rod

Your water heater typically has an anode rod which helps prevent the tank from corroding. The anode rod is made from aluminum, manganese, and zinc, which allows it to draw away corrosion from the sides of the tank. But eventually, the rod will deteriorate as time goes on. And when the anode rod is completely corroded, it would no longer be able to do its job. This means corrosion will start to happen on the tank’s inner lining.

One sign to look out for is bubbling water where the rod enters the tank. If this is the case, a corroded anode rod may be what’s causing the leak. You will then have to contact a plumber to inspect your water heater tank for corrosion.


While your water heater isn’t supposed to leak water, there’s no need to panic. If the leaking is coming from the top, the problem may be solved easily without having to spend too much to fix it. However, the leak could also mean the need to replace certain parts. If this is the case, make sure to contact your local plumber for further help.

Fix your water heater problems with the help of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. We are a licensed, bonded, and insured plumber in Clearlake, CA that offers quick and reliable service. We understand how important it is for your water heater to work as it should, which is why we specialize in water heater repair, water heater installation, and water heater replacement. Call us today!