Hot Water Heater leak?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by movingsoonMD, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. movingsoonMD

    movingsoonMD New Member

    Messages:
    9
    We have a 10-year old AO Smith hot water heater that appeared fine until a recent home inspection (by a potential buyer) determined there was signs of a leak by the cold water inlet/faucet above the tank. While the hot water heater has been functioning fine, when I looked back there (this side is somewhat obscured from plain view), I noticed a bit of rusting due to some leak in the cold water connection (or tank?) that is mixing with a chemical (iron oxide?) to cause some white powdery flakes above the tank. It does appear dry to the touch. Not sure if this was a one-time leak. Also, this chemical reaction has caused the 'washer' area (where the tank is connected to the cold water line) to loosen slightly.

    Is this correctable or are we talking replacement?
  2. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Sounds like the leak is at a connection and not the tank.

    But you may save much confusion if you replace the water heater. It's due.
  3. movingsoonMD

    movingsoonMD New Member

    Messages:
    9
    What do you figure caused that leak - I assume it's from the cold water inlet connection dripping down. If it's a connection fix (and it does appear dry now), is it easy enough? Can I wrap it in Teflon tape?

    I just don't want to move only to hear the sellers move in and complain about a hot water heater that malfunctions or possible breaks down. At the same time, if it's an easy fix and it works for now, it may be okay for some time. I would rather not be out the money since I won't be getting the use out of it.
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Is it wet or dry?
    Touch it and see if it is wet or dry. If dry leave it alone. It may have leaked long ago and stopped. Generaly there is no way to tell when it leaked. If there is a large amount of build up that can be chunked off then it is a constant leaking and drying problem. If just a lite coating it probably leaked and stopped.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,607
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    house

    Do like most sellers do and buy a one year home insurance policy, so if anything, such as a water heater, malfunctions they can call them instead of kvetching to you.
  6. movingsoonMD

    movingsoonMD New Member

    Messages:
    9
    It's dry. Must have leaked a bit from the cold water connection at one time, but now it's just dry, flaky white matter. It just looks like the part where the cold water connects to the top of the tank (washer?) is getting a bit cruddy too, and almost loosening a bit. Do I have to worry about the little gap it is creating?

    Should I teflon tape this area up?

    HO policy...I guess you meant like a one-year HO warranty policy....
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,714
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I'm with plumber1. Replace the WH with a new one. Having said that, if I were the buyer, I'd rather buy the house and replace the WH myself, to simplify warranty issues (although some WH warranties are transferrable to subsequent owners). Knock a few hundred bucks off the price to do that -- the purchaser will value that much more than you will.
  8. movingsoonMD

    movingsoonMD New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Thanks, guys. That was very helpful.
  9. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    hj has the right idea. Get a policy and leave it at that. I wouldn't replace it.
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,990
    Location:
    New England
    Rust there could also be from condensation. You did say it was the cold water inlet?
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Many times the packing nut on the valve will leak and cause what appears to be a leak in the spot you are talking about. Often it will stop leaking also. It may have been that.
  12. movingsoonMD

    movingsoonMD New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Yeah, it's got some greenish/white (lime?) scale just below the cold water inlet, on top of the HWH. It looks like the connection at the bottom of where the cold water pipe meets the inlet, is where it may have once leaked. Totally dry now. Definitely appears to have stopped.
    I've heard about possible condensation issues, too.
    If I clean up that area, and throw some teflon tape around it, can that do the trick?
    My concern is that the 'washer' area where the cold water pipe meets the top of the tank...if it's slightly loosened (due to the scale/leak), there's no chance of a carbon monoxide issue, is there? Just want to be safe...
  13. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I would wipe it down and leave it. Don't bother with the teflon tape.
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