How to turn off water heater when it’s leaking

Do you know how to turn off the water heater when it’s leaking? Many people don’t.

Our Master Plumber, Adam Proctor, has this to say about leaking water heaters:

There are two kinds of water heater leaks: large ones and small ones. The pans underneath will not handle a large leak. This is especially important if your water heater is above or attached to living space. Water always flows downhill and you can’t always tell which way it is going. A pan located in the garage can still overflow and damage items in your garage or worse, go into living spaces. “Which way is really downhill?”

When you notice that your water heater has sprung a leak, here’s what to do first:

  • How to Turn Off Water Heater When It's LeakingIf it’s an electric water heater, DO NOT go near it until turning off electricity at the breaker. Water and electricity do not mix!
  • Locate the valve on top the water heater
  • It could be a lever handle that turns 90 degrees off, like the ball valve to the right. When the handle is parallel to the pipe the water is on. When perpendicular it is off.
  • Or it could be a round handle, called a ‘gate valve.’ Turn clockwise to turn off. Counter clockwise turns it on.

Once you’ve turned it off, try opening up a hot water faucet to see if, in fact, it’s off.

If the water is off:

  • For a gas water heater, turn off the gas.
  • For an electric water heater go to your breaker box and turn off the circuit.

Then give Gary’s Quality Plumbing a call and we will either repair or replace it with a dependable, energy efficient Bradford White water heater. When you need dependable water heater replacement, call 972-424-6479.
J.Adam Proctor M38474


  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas and tips to solve water heater problems. Most of times the problems can not be solved easily. So we provides 24/7 plumbing services with professional and licensed plumbers in Sydney. visit:http;// .au/

  2. I’m glad that you gave instructions on how to turn the valve off on a water heater. I always have trouble remembering which way to turn or position the valve handles, so the reminder is very much appreciated. Shutting off the water and gas or electricity to your water heater is the best way to lessen the damage until a plumber can come. Thanks for the article!

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