Troubleshooting a possible water heater leak

water heater leak A puddle in your basement is usually an unwelcomed surprise – especially if it happens under or near your water heater.

Your first response to that puddle could be panic: after all, if the source of the leak is left untreated, the problem can quickly escalate into a structural or mold issue for your floors, subfloors, and walls.

But is the water from that puddle actually coming from a leak in your water heater storage tank?


When you first notice water on or around your water heater, it’s a good idea to investigate the problem before you call for professional water heater repairs; several other culprits could be to blame for your puddle, including:

  • Condensation – When humid air comes in contact with a cold surface, condensation (water droplets) form. Gather enough droplets and you’ve got a puddle. Condensation can form on the water heater itself, associated pipes, or any nearby appliance. 
  • Pipe fittings – If you’ve ruled out condensation as a cause of your puddle, check your pipe fittings – you may have a leak in your water softener discharge lines, furnace drain lines, or other plumbing. Check the entire area: the leak could be coming from an overhead water pipe or other places that are easy to overlook.

A simpler method for diagnosing a water heater leak

If you don’t find anything after your inspection, place some paper towels over the area where you first noticed the water. Check the paper towels every few hours for signs of soaking.

If after a few days there are no obvious signs of a leak you are probably in the clear – but keep an eye on your water heater and pipes for a while just to be safe.

If you do have a water heater leak

If you do have a water heater leak, take these actions immediately (see your owner’s manual for instructions, or contact us for help):

Having water heater problems? We can help. Contact Advanced Propane today for expert water heater maintenance and repair in our Western Tennessee and Southern Kentucky service area.