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Question DetailsAsked on 2/1/2014

We found our hot water heater was leaking this morning. The repair person won't be able to come to our house

until next Tuesday (today is Saturday). Is it safe to continue using our hot water in the meantime? It's a gas hot water heater, and it's situated in the garage on a pedestal - so the water that's leaking out from the bottom is simply going onto the garage floor.....?

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    2 Answers


    Not knowing where it is leaking, I'd be very cautious. If you are comfortable with turning water and gas on and off, proceed as follows.

    Turn the gas off first and then the water feeding the water heater off. Assuming you are handy and know how to relight the gas,turn them on once a day, water first until the heater and pipes fill, then the gas.

    Arrange time so all hot water needs for the day are meet. Obviously turn gas and then water off after each use.


    Answered 5 years ago by BayAreaAC


    A leak can go from a drip to a 5 or so gallon per minute gusher, which could also spray onto elecrical, you furnace, etc - so use great caution in using it. I would not do the on once a day thing, because every time you turn it on and off the heatingand cooling is likely to oipen up the leak more - possibly very quickly, and unfortunately very commonly the master water shutoff is close behind the heater, so you cannot get it turned off till you either take a pice of plywood or something to block the hot water, or till it runs out of hot water (30 gallons or so) before you can safely shut off the water - so I would not take the chance. Borrow a friend's shower, go to the fitness club to work out and shower, rent a motel room, heat wateron the stove and sponge bathe for a few days, etc.

    That said, if the leak is at the pipe threads where the pipe comes out the top of the heater, that is less likely to go catastrophic on you quickly, so there I might be tempted to tape it off with several wraps of waterproof tape over a wrapped old sock or rag (so it cannot spray all over the place and can only run downwards), and do the on for use, off when not needed plan.

    Of course, if the water is runningonto the garage floor AND you have a floor drain, or it will go out the door, you have less risk than if the water is going to start coming in under the adjacent walls.

    BTW - the gas shutoff you wold not have to totally turn off and relight - you could just leave on pilot. The water shutoff valve he was talking about would be right above the heater, on the incoming cold water pipe. Be sure to turn water on and run a hot water faucet upstairs till water comes out to be sure tank is full before you turn on gas - you do NOT want to turn the gas on with an empty water tank if it drains out when off.

    Also - if leak is at the two pipes coming out of the top of the tank, or at the relief valve at the top side of the tank, only them may need fixing for about $150-250 typically - you may not need a new water heater. If the top and the relief valve are dry, then unless it happens to be leaking at the thermostat well (rare), then it will mean a new heater for typically $1000 plus or minus about $200.

    Take a look at the installation date on the heater so you can decide in advance if you want to replace it even if the leak is only in the top pipes, if it is getting well on - say 12+ years for 6-10 year tank, 15-20 or more for 12-15 year tank, so you don't sink a few hundred dollars into a tank that might only be good for a few more years.

    Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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