Why Is Your Water Heater Leaking From The Top

Water heaters are one of the most used systems in homes, only truly second to residential air conditioning and heating systems. 

Whether it’s used for getting warm water for the jacuzzi on a cool summer night or getting some hot water to quickly make some pasta for dinner, our water heaters see quite a lot of use throughout the year. Due to the fact that many people don’t like using cold water, water heaters often end up seeing quite a lot of use. 

So when it comes to any problems that may pop up, many homeowners want to fix theirs right away.

Thankfully, finding your water heater leaking from top isn’t as big of a deal as other issues can be. More often than not, if you manage to find the source of the leak in the right amount of time, it can be repaired quickly and rarely needs any parts to be replaced. 

However, finding the source of where the water heater leaking from the top is very time critical. A leak from the top of the water heater that’s left unattended for too long can lead to water running down the sides, shorting out any electrical components and damaging the walls and floor around it.

We’ve found some of the key reasons for why your hot water heater leaking from top for you to consider and how you can go about fixing it yourself. 

If none of these reasons are the cause of why your water heater has a puddle on its top or the problem is too complex to fix yourself, contact Clover Contracting for an estimate or repair.

What can cause water from leaks?

If you are trying to find  the cause of the leak the first thing you should do is turn off the power to the water heater. This makes sure that the machine itself won’t accidentally turn on while you’re checking it and that any water that is still inside the system won’t activate the heating elements inside. Additionally, leaving the valves on makes any leaks easier to find.

Your water inlet valve is loose or faulty

If you notice your water heater leaking from its top, one of the most likely causes is that the valve bringing cold water into the system isn’t properly tightened. Depending on the model of the water heater and the pipes connected to it, the cold water inlet pipe may have either a ball or a gate type valve.

In order to make sure that the valve is the cause of the issue, turn the valve to its off position before checking for any leaks. If you have a gate valve, simply turn the valve or wheel that lowers the gate. For ball valves – which often have levers – pull the lever so it’s perpendicular to the pipe. With the valve closed off, check for any dripping water.

In many cases, the solution to this problem is very easy. All you would need to do is tighten the screw connected to the handle. If you find the water heater leaking from the top even after you tighten the screw, the valve itself is faulty. The best choice here is to replace the entire valve.

Your TPR valve may be malfunctioning

One of the possible reasons that you’re finding that your water heater is leaking, especially from the top of the machine, is that the TPR valve isn’t working as it should. The temperature and pressure relief valve, as the name suggests, is used to vent out excess hot water to prevent any of the elements inside or the tank itself from breaking. 

If you find that the water heater leaking from its top, particularly from around the TPR valve’s threads, you may need to remove it. If there’s any rust around where the valve was, the entire tank needs replacing. Otherwise, simply wrap the threads with a sealant tape like teflon tape and reattach the valve.

Some pipes and fittings may be loose or corroded

In some cases, the source of the leak may not be the water heater’s valve but some of the pipes instead. These leaks can typically come from either of the inlet or outlet fittings, also referred to as dielectric nipples. 

If you find that the water is dripping out of one of these fittings, then the solution is fairly simple. If you have a wide enough wrench, you can tighten the connection to stop the leak. If that doesn’t solve the issue, you might need to replace the fitting, since it’s likely that it corroded.


Though this may not always be the case, a puddle of water on the top of your water heater doesn’t always mean that there’s a leak or a break nearby. 

On occasion, simple condensation can be the main cause of the water building up. A little bit of condensation is entirely normal, especially when the weather’s been rather chilly. If you use the water heater often, chances are that the amount of condensation builds. 

Typically, if given enough time, the condensation will simply evaporate. However, if you use hot water faster than the heater can supply, the condensation builds and builds until you have a puddle on top of it. The moisture on the tank isn’t given the time it needs to properly evaporate and you’re left with water everywhere, likely including the floor. 

Water heater leaking from top — Takeaway

When it comes to a leaking water heater from top, there are many potential reasons as to the cause. 

In many cases, however, the problem can be solved quite easily. If the leak is found in time, all that’s needed to do is to tighten any connections nearby and mop up the water to prevent excess water damage. Some of the causes of the water build up on your water heater may not come from the plumbing or the water heater itself. In those cases, all you can do is clean up. 

However, if you can’t solve the issue itself or you can’t find what the cause is, contact Clover Contracting to help you. 

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