How to Fix a Flexible Pipe Leak in Your Water Heater

What You'll Need
Plumbers Wrench
Clamps and Fittings

A water heater has several components, but some that are most prone to damage and leaking are the pipes, including any flexible pipe. Flexible pipe is more prone to leaks due to it's mobile nature. They are very convenient to install, as they save time and typically less material is needed as it is can be customized far more than rigid pipe. The more it moves, the weaker the metal becomes thus subjecting the pipe to increased wear and tear. The result is that the integrity of the material breaks down creating cracks or breaks in the piping, which you see as a leak in the pipe. Here you will find the information needed to repair a flexible pipe on your water heater.

Step 1 - Locate the Leak

First, you will need to locate the location of the leak. This can be difficult on flexible pipe. Wrap a layer of paper or dish towels around the piping in the general area where you think the leak is located. The leak will quickly saturate the towels, revealing the location of the leak by the color variance in the towels. Once you have located the leak, it can be helpful to mark it with a permanent marker.

Step 2 - Shut off Water

Turn off the water supply to the water heater. Depending on the location of the leak, you may want to drain the tank, although most flexible copper tubing on a water heater is going  to be at the supply lines on the top of the water heater, in which case it is not necessary to drain the tank.

Step 3 - Check Fittings

The flexible tubing on the water heater is secured with screw on couplings. Double check these to make sure that they are not the source of the leak. If they are seeping or leaking, tighten them and wait to see if the leak reappears. If the leak does reappear, unscrew the fittings and check to make sure that they were secured using plumbers tape or putty. If there is none, add some and reconnect them. Turn the water back on and check to see if the pipes continue leaking. If they do, continue on to the next step.

Step 4 - Repair vs. Replace

If the flexible piping continues to leak, you will need to evaluate if it is worth repairing. It is very difficult to effectively repair the copper piping in the middle of the pipe, where the ridges are. There are a few different fittings that can be affixed over the compromised area that may stop the leak. They are inexpensive and worth a try. Generally these are made of a foam gasket that is slipped over the tubing, then tightened down and secured, creating a wrap around the tubing. The type that is needed will depend on the size of the tubing and the size of the leak. Take your leaking tubing to a home improvement store and they can help you locate the correct fitting. If the fitting ultimately does not stop the leak, it is best to just replace the flexible copper tubing, as it is nearly impossible to repair a break in the ridged area of the pipe.