If you go down into the basement and find that your boiler is leaking, it's normal to be alarmed. After all, a leak could lead to water damage and the need for costly repairs. But there is some good news -- boiler leaks are not always caused by serious issues. Sometimes, there may be a very minor problem you can address yourself. Here are the steps you should follow whenever you spot a boiler leak.
See if the water is coming from the pressure-relief pipe.
The water inside your boiler is put under pressure in order to bring it to a boiler faster. If this pressure rises too high, some water will come out of a small pipe on the side of the boiler, known as the pressure-relief pipe. Look for a pipe with no fittings emerging from the boiler; this is your pressure-relief pipe. If the water is dripping from this pipe and there's only a small amount, chances are nothing is wrong -- the pressure in the tank just got a little high and the pressure-relief pipe did its job. You can put a bucket underneath it to catch the drips.
Keep an eye on the pressure-relief pipe over the next few days.
If you're constantly noticing water dripping from the pressure-relief pipe over a period of several days or weeks, contact a boiler repair company. This indicates that your boiler is consistently under too much pressure, which could be caused by a blockage in a pipe or a thermostat malfunction that requires professional repair.
Look for a damaged seal.
If the water is not coming from the pressure-relief pipe, take a look at the seals between your boiler and the various pipes that connect to it. If one of the seals appears to be coming loose or is cracking, you can apply some plumber's cement over it to stop the leak. Simply dry the area off as well as you can, and then use a small wooden or rubber spatula to smooth a glob of plumber's putty over the cracked or damaged area.
Look for cracks in the tank itself.
If all the seals are in good shape, the most likely suspect is a crack in the boiler itself. Boilers sometimes develop stress cracks as they age. Look over the unit carefully, and see if you can spot a crack or split in the metal. If you do see a crack, shut off your system and contact a boiler repair company. Depending on the size of the crack and the age of your unit, they may either recommend repairing the crack or replacing the boiler entirely. Contact a company like Rickett Industrial Environmental Systems for more information.