Hot Water Leaking From Overflow Pipe? (We Have a Fix)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Leaks from your hot water heater can be an expensive problem to fix when the water damages your floor. Besides that, it can also mean that something’s wrong with your water heater.

When your hot water heater is leaking from the overflow pipe, this means the temperature and pressure relief valve is malfunctioning. Specifically, it is and causing a buildup in pressure. To fix this problem, you need to tighten or replace the valve.

Even if this might seem like a minor problem, even a small amount of water damage can cause extensive repairs. So, to help you avoid or minimize this problem, let’s dive into what’s causing it and how you can fix it.

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1. Confirm the Leak

Before we discuss leaking from the overflow pipe, let’s ensure this is the problem. Sometimes, the water you see around your water heater might be normal condensation.

Typically, this occurs during the colder months when the water hasn’t fully heated up yet. On the other hand, it might not be condensation. And if it’s not, then try cleaning up the water. If more water accumulates in the area that you cleaned, then you have a leak.

2. Turn Off Your Hot Water Heater

Once you’ve confirmed that your hot water heater is leaking, then turn off your heater to avoid additional and future damage. Also, when water is involved, you’d want to stop it from mixing with electricity.

To turn off your electric water heater, switch the circuit breaker for it once. Or, if you have a gas water heater then turn off your gas valve.

3. Turn Off the Water Supply

You’d also want to turn off your water heater, which you can do via the shut-off valve. However, if the leak makes it difficult for you to safely turn off the water supply then turn off your water’s main shut-off valve. You can normally find this next to your water heater.

4. Find Where the Leak is Coming From

Now that we’ve made the area around your hot water heater safer, let’s see what can be causing it.

Here are some places that the leak can be coming from:

  • Pipe fitting
  • Drain valve
  • Hot water tank

5. Check The Pipe Fittings

Over time, your pipe fitting can loosen up or start deteriorating, so tightening or replacing it is needed. If your pipe fitting isn’t tight, then water can get through. And if that’s the problem, the solution is to tighten it up.

If it’s deteriorating, you’ll likely see evidence of this such as rust. And if that’s the case, then you’ll need to replace it completely.

6. Check The Drain Valve

The drain valve is at the bottom of the water tank. Similar to the pipe fitting, leaking from here might be because it’s loose or damaged. So, the solution is to tighten or replace it.

7. Examine Your Hot Water Tank

Unfortunately, if it’s your hot water tank, you’ll likely need to replace it. The build-up in your tank can eat away at it and eventually cause leaks. If you’ve eliminated all these areas of concern then it’s most likely your overflow pipe and temperature and pressure relief valve.

What Can Happen if Water Leaks from an Overflow Pipe?

Usually, when there’s a leak from the overflow pipe, it’s because of the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve). They work together to drain water and relieve excess pressure.

When water leaks from anywhere in your home and onto your floor, it can lead to water damage. Water damage can lead to mold which isn’t safe for humans to breathe in. Also, it can seep into the floors and require you to remove and replace any areas with water damage.

In addition to water damage, if pressure is not safely released, it can build up and cause the hot water heater to explode. So, if this is where water is leaking from then it’s imperative that you fix it soon.

What Can Cause Water to Leak from an Overflow Pipe?

As previously mentioned, overflow pipes help maintain a healthy balance of pressure in your water heater. So, when there is too much pressure inside the water heater, water will start leaking.

The overflow pipe is a safeguard from excess pressure. So, usually, that’s not the issue. The problem is coming from the TPR valve. One thing that can cause the TPR valve to malfunction is age. And the solution would be to tighten or replace it.

But before you buy another valve, you should try tightening it. It can never hurt and if this does solve the problem, then you saved yourself a little money. If it doesn’t solve the problem then you’ll need to replace the TPR valve. And we’ll discuss how to do this below.

How to Replace a Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve

Here are some steps you can take to help you replace your TPR valve:

First, Protect Yourself

The first step you’ll want to take involves protecting yourself from the heat. Hot water heaters have water inside that is boiling. So, before you tackle this, ensure that you have a pair of safety gloves and thick clothing on.

Drain the Area

Now that you’re ready to continue, use hot water from a faucet closest to the tank to drain it. You don’t need to drain it completely. However, you do need to drain it to below the valve.

While it’s not necessary, you can drain the water and flush minerals and sediment with a water hose. You’ll need to connect the water hose to the drain valve and position the other end over the floor drain.

Remove the Valve

To remove the valve, you’ll need to use a wrench and turn it counterclockwise.

Coat the New Valve in Teflon Tape and Install it

By wrapping Teflon tape around the new valve a few times, you reduce the chances of future leaks occurring. After you’ve added the tape, you’ll need to install the new valve. You can start the process by twisting it with your hand until it’s tight enough.

Then, switch to the wrench to further tighten it. Be careful not to strip it.

Turn on the Cold Water Run-Off Valve and Check for Leaks

Once you’ve successfully replaced your TPR valve, turn on your cold water valve so that the tank can fill up again. During this time, you’ll also want to ensure that there are no leaks.

Related Questions

How can I prevent this from happening again?

Once you fix this issue, you don’t want to let it reach that point again. The best form of prevention is annual TPR valve maintenance checks. And for optimal performance, you’ll also want to change it out every three to four years.

What can I do about water damage caused by leaking?

Your first step is to clean up as much as you can then try to dry it out. If you were able to catch the leak quickly, then you might be spared from mold. If you weren’t then you’ll need to remove the areas that have mold on it. Be sure to call your homeowners’ insurance to see if they cover mold removal, before attempting to do it yourself. Do You Need to Hire a Plumber? Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you: FIND LOCAL CONTRACTORS.

Wrapping Up

A leaky hot water heater is just part of owning a home. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when it happens to you. Fortunately, you can fix your problem by yourself if you follow the tips mentioned above.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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