If you notice a pool of water around your hot water cylinder, you may have a leaking hot water cylinder. There are a few signs that may indicate a leaky hot water cylinder:
- water is dripping from or pouring out of the bottom of the cylinder
- water is coming from the top or side of the cylinder
- water is coming from one of the valves (temperature valve, drain valve, hot water cylinder relief valve)
- water is coming from the cold water inlet and/or the hot water outlet connection
- water is pouring from the outlet pipe – it is normal for this outlet to drip, but it should be no more than a small drip
- water is coming out of a crack in the cylinder
Remember, it’s normal for hot water cylinders to emit a bit of water. But it should never be a steady stream of water or a constant leak.
What causes a hot water cylinder to leak?
Damage to the hot water cylinder components
There are different types of hot water cylinders – electric hot water cylinders, gas hot water cylinders, low pressure hot water cylinders, mains pressure hot water cylinders, vitreous enamel hot water cylinders, stainless steel hot water cylinders, copper hot water cylinders.
They all operate with an intricate network of parts and components that work together to heat your water. A leak, therefore, could be caused by any number of faulty parts, loose connections, excessive pressure, or corrosion. It’s hard for the average homeowner to determine what’s causing the hot water cylinder to leak, so we always advise that you get in touch with us and we can diagnose what’s causing the leak and what to do about it.
Damage to the cylinder
Hot water cylinders are designed to last for anywhere between 10 and 15 years, and with proper use, they can be quite hardy. Like anything, though, they can be damaged if not looked after carefully.
A common cause of a hot water cylinder leak is a crack in the cylinder caused by a blow or other external force. If something hits the cylinder, it could crack. This might happen during renovations. It might happen if you’re moving boxes around in the cylinder cupboard. Or it may be the result of careless repair work near the cylinder.
The age of the hot water cylinder
If your hot water cylinder is greater than 10 years old, the leak could very well be the result of ageing or wear and tear. There are no fixed rules around this, as the efficiency of the hot water cylinder depends on how much use it gets – how many people live in your household and how much water you use.
If your cylinder is nearing the end of its life, it may be more cost-effective to replace your hot water cylinder rather than repair it. We can give you solid advice around this.
Work by your water provider or water main upgrades
If there are road works happening near your home and all of a sudden your hot water cylinder starts to leak, it may be the result of work done by the water company. Sometimes upgrades to the water mains may create a change in water pressure that may affect your hot water cylinder valves. It may also cause an overflow of open vents. Or, on the rare occasion, there may be debris now coming in from the mains water into your plumbing that is making its way into your hot water cylinder.
The immersion element and/or thermostat may be the cause of your hot water cylinder leak. We see this, particularly in cylinders that are starting to show their age. We can investigate and diagnose this type of issue causing a hot water cylinder leak, but a licensed electrician will be needed to fix the problem.
What should you do if your hot water cylinder is leaking?
If you discover that your hot water cylinder is leaking, you must act quickly.
- The leak may be causing damage to your property
- The leak could cause mould and mildew to grow, which cause allergy and asthma and eventually can become highly toxic
- The leak will also be costing you in wasted hot water
Steps to take if your hot water cylinder is leaking:
- Turn off the water – If you can locate the tap that lets water into the hot water cylinder, turn that off. If you cannot locate it, you may need to turn off the water supply to your house.
- Turn off the power – If you have a switchboard, just turn the switch labelled “hot water cylinder”.
- Call the professionals – Give us a call at Sumich Plumbing & Drainage and we’ll see how we can help.
Is a leaky hot water cylinder an emergency plumbing issue?
It might be. It depends on how much water is leaking. If it’s quite a heavy leak, give our emergency plumbing team a call – they’re available 24/7. We don’t want any further damage to occur and we also don’t want you to waste unnecessary hot water or power.
Does a leaking hot water cylinder need to be replaced?
This depends on the cause of the leak and the age of your hot water cylinder. We’ll look at what parts may be worn or damaged, whether they’re part of the cylinder itself and its internal parts, or whether it’s the valves, taps or pipes causing the problem.
Most hot water cylinders have an expected life span of between 10 and 15 years. If your is around this age, it may be time to replace your cylinder.
It may be a good time to change over to an instantaneous gas hot water system. If you’re interested in upgrading to a gas continuous flow system or would like to know whether it’s time to replace your water heater for any other reason, please get in touch and we can discuss what’s best for you.