How To Check For Gas Leak On Hot Water Heater

Check For Gas Leak On Hot Water Heater

A gas leak can be very dangerous, especially if not dealt with quickly. Several people die each year from non-fire-related gas exposure. Unfortunately, water heaters seem to be particularly susceptible to developing gas leaks. 

But how can you know for sure that your hot water heater has a gas leak? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about checking your water heater for gas leaks to keep you and your family safe.

Quick Guide

In a rush? We’ve got you covered!

Here is the condensed version of everything you need to know.

Signs Of A Leak

  • The smell of sulfur or rotting eggs – if you can smell gas it is escaping your appliance and is dangerous

Causes Of A Leak

  • Too much pressure
  • Missing or damaged drain valve
  • Storage tank cracks
  • Miscellaneous, minor issues.

Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Tiredness, headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and eye irritation are all more minor symptoms of excessive carbon monoxide exposure. You are in more trouble if you experience nose bleeds, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or pale skin. 

Gas Leaks from Water Heaters

There are several different signs that your hot water heater is leaking gas. 

The first, and a most obvious, sign that there is a gas leak somewhere in your home is the smell. Natural gas has no smell so is deliberately mixed with a smelling agent so that you can detect it without any sort of gadget, should there be a leak. 

The smell of gas that leaks out into your home will be strong and sulfurous. If you aren’t a chemist and don’t know what sulfur smells like, it is very similar to rotting eggs. If you start smelling old eggs whenever you walk past your heater then it is likely that you have a leak that needs to be addressed quickly. 

Keep in mind that the smell is not just limited to your heater – any gas appliance has the potential to leak and the same smell will be present each time.

How To Check For Gas Leak On Hot Water Heater

Causes of Gas Leaks from Your Water Heater

There are potentially thousands of causes of gas leaks from your water heater. Far too many to run through here! Instead, we have compiled a list of the most common causes that will hopefully help you troubleshoot and get your heater back in working order.

Too Much Pressure

We all crack under too much pressure – your water heater is no different! 

Sometimes the pressure that your water heater has to deal with is much higher than the pressure that it was designed to withstand. This can make an existing, minor leak much worse. Occasionally this means that a previously undetected leak becomes apparent.

Excessive pressure can be caused by the water temperature being set too high. It may even be caused by the external water supply that comes into the tank having an increased pressure that is too high for your appliance.

Missing Drain Valve

One of the most common causes of a water heater leaking gas is a missing drain valve. Once the water begins to leak out of the valve, you can assume that gas is leaking out too. This is because gas can slip out of small cracks much more easily than water can.

If you do notice a leaking water heater, you need to fix it ASAP. Tighten up the valve as much as you can or until it fits snugly again. If you are unsure or can’t stem the leak this way, you should call an experienced plumber to fix the issue.

Storage Tank Cracks

Increasingly, water heaters are built with a glass-lined storage tank. Does this linking help protect your steel tank from corrosion that occurs because it is always in contact with the water? Yes. But does this age-proof your tank completely? No. In fact, the glass lining may only last five years before it is prone to issues.

Issues mostly arise because of calcification – that is the process that calcium and other perfectly natural minerals in the water build-up and create deposits. As these deposits grow, they can easily crack the glass lining and then cause gas or even water leaks. 

Once you have a crack in your lining, you need to get it fixed or replaced quickly. Keep in mind that water expands as it gets hot so, when your heater is heating the water, any water that is inside the crack will expand and is likely to worsen the crack. Your heater may also develop brand new cracks as the shape of the lining is gradually distorted.

Other Causes

Some other quick-fire issues can cause gas leaks in your water heater. Loose fixtures, improper water draining, and just plain old age are all very common issues that most water heater owners will have to deal with at some point. 

Dangers of Gas Leaks

We have already mentioned that gas leaks are super dangerous but many people still regularly underestimate the severity of their water heater issues.

Carbon monoxide is highly prevalent in the gas that a water heater burns. It is perfectly safe when it is contained, but when it leaks out and you come into contact with it without realizing it, you will likely be exposed to a dangerous level. 

Remember these common symptoms and be sure that you seek medical and professional advice should you experience the following:

  • Eye irritation and tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Drowsiness, fatigue, headaches, or dizziness
  • Poor appetite and severe nausea

As exposure becomes more severe, the symptoms worsen:

  • Difficulty breathing or breathing very quickly
  • Chest pain
  • Nose bleeds
  • Pale skin as the blood is drawn to preserve your vital organs

Gas leaks can easily kill people who are unaware so do not let it catch you out. We recommend that you invest in a carbon monoxide detector – these are inexpensive and will alert everyone in the house when unsafe levels of carbon monoxide are detected.

Final Thoughts

Gas leaks are very dangerous and all too common so you must know what to do.

The easiest and most obvious way to tell if you have a gas leak is that you will smell gas. It is deliberately made to smell as obnoxious as possible so it is not easy to miss. 

Smell sulfur or rotting eggs? Get your water heater checked out immediately. The same goes for any other gas appliance you have. 

YouTube video