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Yesterday we installed a new water heater. Pretty straight forward, my father in law has done many of these. I monitored pretty closely for next 12 hours and the catch pan under the water heater continued to have water in it, even when no leaks could be seen at the connections or the release valve or anywhere else on the water heater. I continually, took this water out of the pan with a rag every couple hours. I checked in the morning and there is water in there again. Roughly, a 20 to 40 oz amount of water. I am pretty sure I received a defective water heater and it is leaking out of the bottom of the water heater. Has anyone experienced this? If I can't see leaks at the connections, the release valve, or anywhere else it must be leaking out of the tank. Does anyone know the cause of this, or what else I could check on this?

I also opened up the bottom of the water heater where you can see the pilot light and put my hand in the bottom of the water heater and I can feel water in there. There must be a leak in the inner case of the water heater, correct?

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    It's possible that it's leaking somewhere above and running into the pilot compartment, but I'd consider that extremely unlikely. My money is on a faulty unit, but you can clean around all of the connections with rubbing alcohol and watch for water spots left by evaporation. – Comintern Mar 27 '16 at 16:31
  • Gas or electric? Electric heaters are unlikely to leak except at the visible connections, but a gas heater can have a leak in the heat exchanger. – Hot Licks Mar 27 '16 at 23:32
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Possibly the tank leaks.

But it is far more likely that one of the through-hole connections is loose. Check those before blaming the manufacturer:

  • Inlet (cold supply)
  • Outlet (hot output)
  • cleanout drain
  • heating unit

Well, I suppose if the heating unit is causing the leak, blame the manufacturer.

The top connections are easily checked by stuffing a paper towel or rag and see if they sop up anything.

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    I agree, the tanks are tightness tested at the factory. Much more likely that one of your water connections is leaking but it is difficult for you to see due to the sheet-metal covered tank insulation. Leaks at the top connections will run down under the insulation and end up at the bottom of the unit, eventually dripping into the pan below. – Jimmy Fix-it Mar 27 '16 at 16:37
  • Yep, as said in the initial question I have been checking the Inlet(cold supply), Outlet (hot output), release valve for the past 12 hours now getting closer to 18 hours for leaks. No leaks, not even a drop of water. I would say if the heating unit is leaking that would be manufacturer defect. The cleanout drain really shouldn't be leaking out of the box that I am aware of. – User Smith Mar 27 '16 at 17:02
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    Or perhaps it was damaged when it was shipped. – Ben Welborn Mar 28 '16 at 17:33
  • Marking this as the answer, while it was not my answer. It is more than likely going to be the majority of people's answers that come to this post. – User Smith Mar 31 '16 at 22:32
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We returned to the Maynards where we bought and the plumbing manager looked it over and said it was a defective product. He gave us a new one. We brought it back home installed using same hookups and 6 hours later not a drop in the catch pan. Looks like you can buy defective water heaters.....

  • Sure, sometimes they are defective. But 99% of the time, the problem is in the installation. – wallyk Mar 27 '16 at 23:06
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    Good on Maynard's for a hassle free exchange. As a prime retailer they can probably just swap them out upon complaint, I doubt the guy could really determine defect. Now we are left curious as to the actual leak, I am betting the threaded thermostat port. – Jimmy Fix-it Mar 28 '16 at 2:54
  • @wallyk I would agree that 99% of the time it is the installation. This scenario it was not though. – User Smith Mar 29 '16 at 14:10
  • Did you find out what the Maynards plumbing manager saw that made him conclude the product was defective? – wallyk Mar 29 '16 at 15:14
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    It was pretty obvious actually once we had it in the store and out of the basement and unhooked. Every inlet, outlet, release valve, clean out spigot, everything was bone dry, but you could still hear and see water sloshing around in the very bottom of the tank. I guess I didn't ask him what he saw that made him conclude that, but from my perspective it was much more obvious once it was sitting in the store. I have spoke with this particular guy a couple times before, and he made it sound like he had definitely seen quite a few defective ones in the past as he had some stories. – User Smith Mar 31 '16 at 22:35

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