A hot water heater leaking from the bottom is quite common. You don’t need to worry unless the leak is very severe. However, you must not let the problem persist as that can pose greater troubles sooner than later. The first thing you need to know is the exact source and severity of the leak. Do not presume that you need to get a new water heater. In all likelihood, the problem can be fixed rather easily.
You need to check at two distinct places to know the exact source of the leak or where it is leaking from. You need to reach out to the bottom of the heater and then check the drain valve and the tank. The drain valve is easy to spot. It would be a spigot, somewhere at the bottom of the water heater tank. This drain valve is responsible to extract the sediment and to drain it out of the water heater. The drain valve may have malfunctioned and that may be the cause of the leak and also the place where the leak is. Repairing the drain valve is not recommended. Most drain valves are beyond repair. You would need to replace it. Fortunately, the cost of a drain valve is not much and you can easily have it replaced. It is better to call in a plumber to replace the drain valve if you are not confident or sure whether or not you can do it.
What to Do
Should the leak be from the tank and not from the drain valve, then it is a serious issue. You may not be able to do anything. Even a plumber or water heater expert would be helpless. You need a new water heater. Such leaks happen because the buildup of sediment inside the tank, usually at the bottom, has led to corrosion. A corroded tank, which is a way of saying that the inner lining of the hot water heater tank has been corroded, is not usable or repairable.
Immediately after you know the source and cause of the leak, you should turn off the appliance and also cut off the supply of water. You don’t want a water heater to get exposed to more damage due to the leak. Even if the inner lining of the tank has been corroded, don’t let it get corroded even more. Do not attempt to uninstall the water heater or do anything with it immediately after use since it may still be hot.