Having a hot water heater develop a leak can turn into a disaster very quickly. If you're currently experiencing this problem, read this guide to quickly find out how you should act to minimize the damage caused by this problem and to get help.
Under no circumstances should you approach the water heater while it has a leak. If the leak is under pressure or worsens while you're there, you could experience burns from scalding water. While you might have the urge to throw down towels or to try and plug up the leak, keep your distance for now.
The first thing you should do is shut off the water to your home. This can be a bit of a nuisance, but it's just for the moment.
Locate your water main and shut off the water, and then proceed to the next step.
Whether your hot water heater is a gas-powered one or electric, you should consider turning off the electricity to your home if your water heater isn't outdoors. Indoor water heaters are often close to electronics like washing machines and power outlets. In order to prevent a short and to eliminate the risk of electrocution, shut off the power to your house from the main shut-off switch or fuse box.
With this process complete, head back to the water heater. Now that the water and electricity are turned off, you can shut off the water at the water heater instead of to the rest of the house.
Take a look at the back of your water heater. There should be a small knob mounted over one of the intake pipes leading into the water heater. Turn it to the right until it tightens and stops, and it should shut off the water.
Now that that's done, you can turn the water main back on. The water heater won't receive any water, so the leak won't get any worse, but you'll regain the convenience of being able to use all other water-based appliances in your home.
Finally, reach out to a plumbing company. Water heaters often have warranties that can make servicing them very inexpensive. In addition, trying to repair a water heater yourself — unless you're a plumber — can be very difficult, time-consuming, and can ultimately result in needing to call a plumber anyway if something goes wrong. Don't risk scalding burns, bigger leaks, and a damaged home. Get help right away after you've completed these steps.