8 Reasons For Water Heater Leaking From Top Element Panel: Solve It Now!

If you just noticed the water heater leaking from top element panel, you better not wait for a moment to solve this. Because water heaters can cause serious problems specifically when there is any leakage.

The leaking water from the top panel can happen if there’s any faulty or loose connection in any inlet or valves, because of corrosion, rust, or breakage of any part.

You can solve these problems by identifying the exact reasons and taking proper steps, like tightening the valves, or repairing or replacing any element after you get advice from a professional. Let’s dive into the next segments to know the reasons and solutions.

Why Water Heater Leaking from Top Element Panel- Causes & Fixes at a Glance

Water Heater Leaking

Well, we found 8 reasons for the leaking of the water heater from top panel elements, let’s have a glance at them.

Problematic ElementSolution
Cold water inletTightening, repairing, replacing
Hot water outletTightening, repairing, replacing
TPR valveTightening, repairing, replacing
Top seam leakageTightening, repairing, replacing
Anode rod connectionRepairing, replacing
Pipe fittingTightening, repairing, replacing
Expansion tankRepairing, replacing
Flue ventRepairing, replacing

Consumer Product Safety Commission warned folks regarding electric water heater incidents,

“Immersible electric water heaters manufactured by G.L. Electric Flasheat Co., Harper Woods, Mich., may cause serious electric shock during use. An identically designed electric water heater made by another company was reportedly involved in the electrocution of a teenage girl last year.”

Since there are several reasons behind water leakage as we mentioned above, you’ll need to know them in detail to identify and solve them properly.

Cold Water Inlet

Through the cold water inlet, all the water goes into the water heater. So, if your cold water inlet valve has a loose connection, the incoming water is supposed to leak from the top panel.

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Solution: Try to tighten the valve with a wrench or call a plumber to help you out.

Hot Water Outlet

Sometimes water also leaks from the hot water outlet. However, fixing this outlet is more complex than the cold inlet.

Solution: If you see the water leaking from the top is hot, it’s best to call a plumber. You shouldn’t try to solve this yourself.

TPR Valve

TPR, or the Temperature and Pressure Relief valve, is essential in the water heater. This valve is located at the top center of some water heaters and some are side-mounted valves.

Usually, this TPR valve gets wear and tear due to the constant temperature and pressure-regulating activity. When the pressure or the temperature inside the water heater rises beyond the normal limit, there can be the discharge of water from leaks.

Also, around the threaded fittings of the TPR valve, the connection can corrode over time and leak from the top or the side of the heater.

Solution: When your TPR valve is leaking, you can’t repair it yourself; you should call a plumber instead. Your plumber will replace the TPR valve and the leakage will be gone.

Top Seam Leakage

There can be any type of leakage in the top element panel if you see water seeping out from the top seam. In most cases, the leak from the top seam is because of the leak in the threaded fittings.

If water is leaking from these connection points, it can be a bigger leak in the inner side of the tank.

Solution: You can try to inspect the fittings and look for any corrosion and rust in the connections. If the problem is not so serious, you can try to repair it. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace the water heater with a plumber.

Anode Rod Connection

For an old model water tank, an anode rod can be a reason for water leakage from the top. This rod is located at the top of the tank between the hot water supply pipe and the cold inlet.

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Solution: If the anode rod is corroding, the water will form a bubble and start to creep up to the rod, making water leak from the top. There’s no other solution but to replace an anode rod because it can even burst anytime.

Loose Pipe Fitting

If any of the pipe fittings are loose, a water leaking problem will arise. So, it’s best to check for the fittings at the top of your water heater first.

Solution: If there are any screws loose, you can tighten them with a wrench. Or you can also get help from a professional.

Expansion Tank

Expansion tanks are the expansion of the main tank, as the name suggests. This tank is installed as optional to store excess hot water; and needs to be replaced every 5-10 years. You can easily identify the expansion tank. It’s a small tank located above your water tank.

Sometimes expansion tanks may leak or the connection near it.

Solution: You can try to tighten the connection to see if the water leaking is stopped or not. If it doesn’t work, call a plumber to replace the expansion tank.

Flue Vent Rainwater

If your water heater is a gas heater, you’ll see a flue vent pipe running up through the roof. When the flue vent pipe gets damaged, specifically after a bad storm, rainwater makes its way into the pipe. It will appear as a leak on the top of the water heater.

Solution: You’ll need to hire a roofer to inspect the flue vent pipe to see if any part of it needs to be repositioned or replaced. Sometimes you’ll need to clear the debris out to solve this problem.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I still use water even if the water heater is leaking?

Yes, you can still use water even when the water heater is leaking. However, you need to be careful about the leakage and treat it as quickly as possible.

Can a leaking water heater start a fire?

A water heater can cause a fire if there’s a gas leak. If you smell something like rotten eggs near your heater, it can burst at any time! Call for an emergency if there’s a leak.


The water heater was first invented a century ago, so all the water heaters you see now are equipped with avant-garde technologies. Even many governments, like New Zealand, pushed the public to use improved versions of the water heaters. However, water heaters aren’t perfect and often get problems.

Trying to fix the elements is the last step after you inspect if the water heater leaking from the top element panel case hasn’t been solved yet. However, if you’re not professional, there’s a big risk involved when you try to tamper with your house’s plumbing.

Because even when you’ll try to tighten a loose screw, it can result in a tripped connector that’ll need replacement. Nevertheless, you should inspect beforehand to make it easier for the plumber when he comes. Just wait for a bit and your plumber will solve the problems, and you’ll warm yourself up in a hot shower soon.

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