How to Handle a Broken Water Heater
- Step 1: Stop the Flow of Water – Thefirst thing you will want to do if your water heater breaks down is to locate the cold water supply pipe. You can usually find it running from the top of your water heater to your main water line. While functioning water heaters stop the flow of water when the tank is full, broken water heaters will continue to distribute water form the cold water pipe. After you have found the cold water valve, you will need to turn it clockwise all the way, thereby stopping the flow of water from the pipe into the tank and preventing more water from spilling over.
- Step 2: Shut Off Your Power – After you have stopped the flow of water from your cold water pipe, you will want to shut off the heater’s power supply. Water heaters are powered by either gas or electricity, which means that if they malfunction, they can turn into a fire hazard. For example, a heater with a broken thermostat will not be able to measure the water’s temperature, and therefore won’t know to turn the unit off if it gets too hot. This is why it is important to shut off the electrical breaker connected to your water heater if it runs on electricity, and to turn off the gas line connected to the heater if it runs on gas. You should also evacuate your home immediately if you detect a gas smell.
- Step 3: Start Cleaning Up & Wait & Call a Professional – By this point in the process, you should have already called a plumber to inspect your water heater. If that plumber is on their way, and your water heater is secure, you can start cleaning up the water at the base of the tank, in order to mitigate damage. If your water heater has broken down to the point that there is standing water or puddles in your home, you should use a wet/dry vac to clean it up, and start running a dehumidifier to prevent mold. You may also want to contact your insurance company if you have experiaced significant property damage.