Mystery leak at bottom of electric water heater

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Praxxl Cogsworth

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My water heater is 10 years old. About 5 years ago, I went out of town and shut off the main water to the house. When I turned the water back on, my water heater had a small leak, maybe 10 drops a minute. After a few days, the leak stopped. Now, 5 years later, I went out of town and shut off the water when I left and when I returned, the mystery leak is back, about 10 drops per minute but it is not stopping. The inlet and outlet fittings are dry. I can't see under the tank but there seems to be something there like a plastic fitting or plug and the leak seems to be from there. I have heard from a few other people that didn't shut off the water when leaving and finding a disaster when they returned. Seems like shutting off the water is cheap insurance against a flood in the house.
So I guess my heater is Kaput. Any idea what is happening? A crack maybe?
 

Reach4

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So I guess my heater is Kaput. Any idea what is happening? A crack maybe?
You are right, that it is time to get that changed.

Something rusting through would be most common, I would think. I don't know why you had a leak that disappeared for a long while.
 

Keith Frank

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What's the brand of your water heater? I guess 10 years is a good term, considering that their life expectancy is around 12 years max. The longevity also depends on a bunch of factors, including the manufacturer and the maintenance quality. But what's weird is that the leak actually disappeared first time around.
 

HudsonDIY

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Are you sure the water isn't coming from the pressure relief valve? Where are you seeing the water? In the drip pan? Does the pressure relief also drain into the dip pan?

As is the consensus, it is nearing the end of it's life.
 
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