Water-Cleanup Tips After Your Basement's Water Heater Fails

Posted on: 1 April 2016


From washing clothes and taking showers to using your dishwasher, your water heater plays an important role in your household needs. While it is an important appliance, you may not place much emphasis on maintaining your water heater. Your water heater may accumulate minerals and residue over time, causing an interaction with the steel inside the unit. This interaction corrodes the water heater tank, increasing your risk of major leaks.

Since the average lifespan of a traditional water heater is between 10 to 13 years, you may experience a water leak at one point while living in your home. Although overwhelming, cleaning up this water before serious damage occurs is imperative for preventing the growth of mold and damage to your walls, foundation, and flooring. Using this guide, you will understand the proper cleanup techniques to use after a serious water heater leak.


Bacteria are most likely present in the water of your water heater. These bacteria may affect your breathing and irritate your skin and eyes, even if you are cleaning up the water immediately after the water heater leak occurs. Before beginning the cleanup process, make sure you are wearing a respirator mask, rubber gloves, and safety goggles.

To reduce the risk of mold growth, ventilate the space. Open windows and doors near the room with the water heater. Also, turn on ceiling fans to circulate air out of the space while helping dry out the room.

Water Heater

Make sure to power off all electricity running to your water heater. Disconnect all electrical connections to your appliance before removing it from your home. If you have a gas water heater, be sure to disconnect the gas line, pilot, and burner, as well.

Water Removal

Soaking up a small amount of water using old towels and blankets is possible. However, a more involved method of water removal will be necessary if you have a few inches of standing water on the floor. If you have a basement, consider installing a sump pump in the space. Not only will this investment work for removing the water from your water heater's leak, but it is also effective for removing water in your basement in future situations.

A submersible sump pump is a smart choice, since it is a smaller option compared to pedestal pumps. Submersible pumps will suction out standing water from your basement while blocking dirt and debris from the unit.

After pumping out the standing water from your space, you will need to check the foundation, walls, and flooring of your home for water damage. Water can soak through carpet and wood floors quickly, affecting the underlying pad and foundation. In addition, the walls can soak up the water quickly, leading to serious drywall and paint damage.

Of course, the invisible damage is also a factor to worry about. Excessive moisture in the flooring and walls increases the risk of mold growth, which is not only unappealing, but also very dangerous to your health.

Hire professionals to test the space for mold, making sure this growth is not present in your home and around your family.


Once you remove the water from the space and clean up any possible mold growth, you can replace your outdated water heater with a new unit.

During the installation of your new water heater, consider sealing the connections using Teflon tape to prevent future leaks. Wrap electrical, plumbing, and any gas connections with the tape for added insulation and protection against leaks.

Your water heater is a key appliance in your home, but it can become overwhelming to maintain. After a water heater fails, use this guide for a safe and efficient cleanup. 

For more information, contact a company like Rite-Way Waterproofing.