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Thread: Leak from a Hot Water Heater or condensation?

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member tj218's Avatar
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    Default Leak from a Hot Water Heater or condensation?

    I woke this morning and noticed approx 2 cups of water around the hot water heater. I later determined it was coming from the leg on the hot water heater. The water heater is a natural gas heater with a 50gallon tank (made or sold by Rheem)and it was made in 2003 with a 12year warranty. I called the # for service and they had me first do a "leak test" which had me turn the gas setting to pilot and wait an hour and look for leaks.

    After calling them back and telling them I couldn't see any leaks they said "it was just condensation then." Since I have turned the gas back to the "on" setting the waterdrip has come back. I can't actually see the water dripping (it's not fast) but when I put a paper towel down near the legs, the towel will have some water spots after a few minutes.

    It is really hot and humid right now, but I thought water heaters only get condensation when they are first filled up. I haven't seen this happen since we moved into the house in 2005. I am on city water and I don't think hard water is an issue.

    Should I be worried about a catastrophic failure of the tank?

    Thanks for any and all advice.
    Last edited by tj218; 07-21-2011 at 02:49 PM.

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    That's usually how a leak starts. When it gets worse it will extinguish the pilot light.

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    DIY Junior Member tj218's Avatar
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    Any ideas on how I can convince Rheem that it isn't just condensation then?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Does it only happen when the burner is on? Do you have an expansion tank in your system? If so, have you checked it to see if it is shot? Could the water be coming out of the T&P valve?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member tj218's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Does it only happen when the burner is on? Do you have an expansion tank in your system? If so, have you checked it to see if it is shot? Could the water be coming out of the T&P valve?
    This only started about 2 days ago. I only really noticed it when the burner was on, when it was set to pilot I couldn't see any water hitting the floor.

    The water is definitely not coming from the T&P valve, the valve area is dry and the bucket it feeds into is dry. There is no expansion valve in the system (there is one for the furnace though).

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Condensation will occur if the tank is not full of hot water and the burner is operating, but it usually just causes "sizzling" when the condensate strikes the hot burner, NOT a pond of water around the tank.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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