Not every small puddle of water found at the base of your water heater is due to a leak. Condensation can form on the pipes and appliances surrounding your water heater. As the condensation accumulates, it’ll drip and pool on the floor. This is especially common in basements, or during damp weather.

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Furnace drain lines, water softener discharge lines and other plumbing could be leaking instead of your water heater. If you notice a small amount of water near or under your water heater the steps below will help you determine the source:

    Dry the area and try to determine the cause by inspecting the water heater and plumbing fittings for obvious signs of water leakage.
    If none is found, inspect other nearby possible sources. Water faithfully obeys the laws of gravity, so pay particular attention to anything directly overhead, especially water pipes.
    If still nothing is found, place some paper towels after you dry the floor. Check the towels every few hours for signs of leakage.
    If after a day or two, the problem doesn’t re-appear, it’s likely nothing to be concerned about.
    However, if water reappears, and no other source can be found, there’s a good chance it’s your water heater.

Once you determine that your water heater is leaking, the first thing you need to do is turn OFF the power supply.

If you have an electric water heater simply locate your circuit breaker box and switch OFF the breaker to your water heater. Water and electricity can be a dangerous combination, so it’s important you do this before moving forward.

If you have a natural gas water heater, there should be an on/off switch or dial on the exterior of the tank near the bottom. Make sure it is set to OFF. Avoid closing the gas shut-off valve if possible. These valves can be finicky and susceptible to failure over time, so it’s best that they be left alone.