Can Broken Water Heaters Create Carbon Monoxide Issues?

Can Broken Water Heaters Create Carbon Monoxide Issues?

Many of us take water heaters for granted. We rely on them every day without thinking too much about how they work and what they may need from us. We’re all fortunate in this regard. However, all water heaters have the potential to experience issues. Of course, it’s never fun to go without hot water. Broken water heaters can also cause much more significant issues. In some cases, they may create carbon monoxide, which is poisonous to humans and animals.

Gas-Powered Water Heaters

Only certain types of water heaters can potentially cause carbon monoxide. If you have an electric water heater, you won’t have to worry about this issue at all. Only water heaters that are powered by natural gas or oil are at risk. The risk can be very low if everything is functioning properly. Since problems can arise unexpectedly, it’s a good idea to stay informed. Keep reading to find out more about the signs of a carbon monoxide leak and what to do about it.

What Exactly Is Carbon Monoxide?

Before going on any further, let’s go over what carbon monoxide is. It’s a type of gas that you cannot see or smell. Its invisibility adds to its danger, as people often don’t realize that there’s a problem until it’s too late. When you breathe it in, it starts to replace the oxygen in your blood. This can make you feel tired and have shortness of breath. You may feel nauseous or start to vomit, your head may hurt, and you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. In addition, you may notice that your heart is beating much faster than usual. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide can cause you to lose unconsciousness, and in severe situations, it can cause death.

Carbon monoxide is created when a fuel is burned without enough oxygen being present. Rather than the fuel combusting completely and creating heat, with carbon dioxide and water as byproducts, there is incomplete combustion. The fuel, which contains carbon and hydrogen, isn’t completely oxidized, and as a result, carbon monoxide is formed.

A water heater that hasn’t been installed or maintained properly may be able to create carbon monoxide. In addition, a water heater that has been damaged in a certain way may be able to cause this problem.

Signs of a Carbon Monoxide Leak

The signs of a carbon monoxide leak might not be obvious at first. If you have any flu-like symptoms or feel nauseous or fatigued without explanation, there may be a leak. If multiple people in the same household develop these symptoms around the same time, an environmental cause could be more likely.

While carbon monoxide doesn’t have any smell on its own, the process of incomplete combustion can sometimes lead to the development of aldehydes. Aldehydes do smell, and they can be pretty pungent. Any unusual odor near your water heater should cause concern.

One other thing that some people have noticed when carbon monoxide is present is a difference in their burner flames. If there isn’t enough oxygen, the flame may have a yellow tinge to it. It may seem bigger than usual, though it may not be uniform in size. Please note that visual inspection isn’t enough of a diagnostic tool. Rather, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Steps to Take

If you think that carbon monoxide is in your home, you’ll need to move quickly to keep everyone safe. If it seems safe to do so, turn off the gas to the water heater. Have everyone get outside the home and open a few windows as you leave—if you can. Call 911 to request formal assistance. In some cases, you may have to receive medical treatment. A professional team will come out to your place and assess the situation. If the water heater is the culprit, it will need to be closely inspected to figure out what happened. Repairs may be able to fix some situations, and some circumstances will require the replacement of a water heater. We know that this requires a big investment, but remember that your safety is the most important thing.

Preventing Future Problems

Getting a carbon monoxide detector is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe from this poisonous gas. Since you can’t see it or smell it, you might not know there’s a problem until it’s too late. If you have a carbon monoxide detector, though, you will know when there’s an issue. This detector will alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide at certain levels. If there is very little carbon monoxide in the air, it may take several hours before the alarm goes off. If carbon monoxide levels are dangerously high, then the alarm can notify you quickly, potentially within a few minutes. It’s recommended that you have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including a basement if you have one. You can even place several detectors on the same floor. This could be a good idea for a floor with several bedrooms because it may be hard to hear an alarm in the middle of the night if it’s too far from where people are sleeping.

Another way to be proactive is to make sure you have your water heater professionally inspected and maintained. Regular maintenance, which could be an annual occurrence, can ensure that your system can heat your water effectively. It can also make sure that the system is safe to use and that no carbon monoxide will be created. If any components have gotten damaged, this will be revealed during a maintenance appointment. It gives you a perfect opportunity to address an issue before it becomes a significant concern.

If you are planning on getting a new water heater at some point, you’ll need to have a reputable company take care of the installation for you. Improper installation can lead to problems with airflow, which can lead to the development of carbon monoxide. Anything that involves a natural gas appliance requires a lot of care, and you definitely don’t want to cut corners when it comes to installation.

Ready to Help

At Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air, we focus on giving our customers our best effort, and we can help you with your water heater in Sacramento. Our business has been family-owned and -operated for more than four decades. We’ve enjoyed getting to know many people in our community through our work, and we always look forward to meeting new customers. Please feel comfortable asking us any of your questions. We know that many people don’t have that much knowledge about various HVAC or plumbing systems, especially when it comes to the details. We’re here to be a resource that you can count on. Plumbing is one of our specialties, and we’re available to install, repair or maintain water heaters, outdoor sprinklers, bathroom fixtures, water softeners, gas piping and more. We have experience with drains and sewers as well as sump pumps, slab leaks and water purifiers. In addition, we can help you with your air conditioner, heater, thermostat, humidifier or dehumidifier, and air filtration or air purification system. Contact Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air for more information!

Top Reasons Why Water Heaters Leak

Top Reasons Why Water Heaters Leak

When a water heater leaks, water damage can spread throughout the surrounding areas. If the water isn’t quickly cleaned up, floors and walls can become significantly damaged. However, plumbers know how to identify the source of leaks and provide the right repair for the job. There are many reasons why water heaters leak, which includes everything from old age to pressure issues. The type of leak determines if a minor repair or full replacement is needed.

Primary Causes of Water Leaks

The causes of a water heater leak depend on several factors, including the age of the system, the type of system, and how often it’s been maintained.

Faulty Drain Valve or Pressure Relief Valve

One reason for a leaking water heater is a malfunctioning drain valve. Whenever a plumber performs maintenance on a water heater, the drain valve is used to empty the system’s tank. Over time, the valve will loosen, which can cause water to leak. If the leak occurs at the base of the drain valve, this indicates that it’s not fully watertight, meaning that a new valve might be required.

The pressure relief valve could also be faulty, which would cause a water leak. This valve is designed to remove pressure from the tank. If the valve isn’t working well, the tank’s pressure will increase. It’s possible that the valve is loose and only needs to be tightened. On the other hand, the part could be faulty, indicating when a replacement would be made. Plumbers will reduce the pressure within the tank before they address valve problems.

Tank is Too Old

The tank in your water heater may be too old. Once these water heaters are around 15 years old, leaks become more prevalent. When the unit ages, the components within will become worn down, which results in the water being unable to maintain its warmth. Leaks will also develop depending on which components are impacted. These leaks may derive from rust developing in the tank, which causes corrosion and cracks. Depending on the system’s age, it may need to be replaced.

High Pressure

The amount of pressure that’s present in a water heater can vary based on how often water is being heated. Pressure builds up because the hot water is producing steam that fills an empty space. If this steam is unable to go anywhere, the pressure could be higher than normal.

In this scenario, cracks could form, after which water will leak to naturally reduce some of the pressure. If the water gets into the system at a high pressure or the water temperature is too high, pressure will increase.

Issues with Inlet and Outlet Connections

Cold water gets into a water heater via an inlet connection. The hot water that’s produced by the heater will leave through an outlet connection. In time, these connections will loosen, which is when leaks occur. This is the main issue that affects inlet and outlet connections, which means that routine maintenance can catch it.

Sediment Collection or Damaged Internal Tank

When a water heater ages, sediment will be collected along the bottom of the tank. If the water is regularly removed and clean, this issue shouldn’t occur. If, however, you don’t have your tank cleaned regularly, sediment will increase until cracks develop. These cracks make it easier for water to leak out of the tank. Keep in mind that a tank leak requires a new water heater.

The cause of the water leak could also be the system’s internal tank. A tank water heater consists of two shells, which include an external shell and an internal shell. The external shell is designed to provide the internal one with insulation to better hold the water. An additional layer of metal is provided to cover both of these shells. Leaks in the internal tank take place because of deterioration and age.

Cracked Storage Tank

Certain water heaters come with an extra tank to accommodate more water capacity. These tanks will often use glass as the lining material. Over a lengthy period of time, minerals can build up and calcify on this glass, which will result in the glass cracking and water leaking. The water itself will also expand whenever it gets hot, which places ample stress on nearby glass. A full replacement might be necessary.

Where this Water Originates From

When a water heater leaks, the location gives the plumber a good idea of what the cause was. Some causes can be ruled out because it’s impossible for them to have occurred in that location.


It’s possible that the water you’ve noticed around your water heater is the result of condensation as opposed to a leak. In most cases, condensation isn’t a problem that must be tended to. It usually takes place when the temperature in the surrounding area is much different than the temperature in the tank. In the event that the room is cold but the tank is hot, condensation may form.

Inlet and Outlet Connection Leaks

If you spot water leaking along the top of the water heater tank, it’s likely that the inlet/outlet connections are the cause. However, cracks in this area are rare. Other causes can include loose pressure valves and corrosion of the anode rod. The leak can typically be fixed by tightening or replacing the individual component. A full water heater replacement is only necessary when a crack appears.

Leaks at Bottom of Unit

If the leak develops around the bottom of the heater, the cause could be the drain valve or a crack in the tank. Drain valves can usually be tightened to fix the issue.

Leaks in Tank

If the leaks are occurring in the tank itself, it’s impossible to see them from outside the tank. The crack that develops can be present in any area of the tank. This issue is usually found during routine water heater maintenance.

Leaks from Undetermined Area

If you have noticed that your water heater has been leaking but are unable to find where the water is leaking from, this may be the result of too much pressure in the system. In this situation, you may notice a pool of water below the unit. If a pressure leak takes place, the water comes from a very small crack. Once the pressure is reduced enough, the leak will stop, which is why it’s difficult to detect.

If your water heater is leaking, our plumbers have the skills required to identify the cause of the leak and provide you with the required repair. We work efficiently to ensure that your water heater will be up and running in no time. Our water heater offerings also include maintenance and installation services.

Here at Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating, & Air, we offer a wide range of plumbing services to residents of Loomis, CA, which include everything from water leak detection to water softener installation. We also provide indoor air quality and HVAC services. If you need to have a leak in your water heater fixed, contact us today to schedule service.