Water Heater Leaks

Problem: Frying or sizzling noises are heard when the heater’s burner comes on.

Background: The water heater tank may be leaking onto the burner, or condensation water may be drop ping into the burner area. Whenever the heater is filled with cold water, a certain amount of condensation will form while the burner is on. This usually happens 1) when a new heater is filled with cold water for the first time, 2) when gas burns and water vapor is produced in heaters, particularly in high-efficiency models where flue temperatures are lower, and 3) when large amounts of hot water are used in a short time and the refill water is very cold.

What to do: Heaters with tank leaks should be replaced. However, don’t assume a water heater is leaking until there has been enough time for the water in the tank to warm up. A water heater may appear to be leaking when, in fact, the water is condensation. Excessive condensation can cause water to run down the flue tube onto the main burner of a gas- fired heater and put out the pilot. This condition maybe noticed during the winter and early spring months when incoming water temperatures are lowest. After the water in the tank has warmed up (about 1 to 2 hours), the problem should disappear.

Special advice: If condensation is heavy, also check the venting system of a gas-fired heater. Good venting is essential for the heater to operate properly, as well as to carry away the combustion and water-vapor products. Inspect the venting system once a year, looking for obstructions blocking combustion and ventilation air flow, or damage or deterioration which could cause improper venting or leakage of combustion products. If discovered, have the flue and venting cleaned or replaced before resuming operation of the heater. See
Gas Appliance Venting Faulty.

Helpful hint: An undersized water heater will cause more condensation to form. The heater must be sized properly to meet home demands, including dishwashers, washing machines, and showers.




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