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How do i find a leak in my central heating system?

Posted on: October 29, 2010

If you find that your Montgomery County, Maryland (MD) or Washington, DC home’s hot water heater is losing pressure and you don’t know why, you may have a leak in your central heating system. Hunting for a leak in your hot water heater can be difficult – some small leaks may only drip a few times a minute, which makes them difficult to notice. But when added up over a few weeks those small drips can lead to huge reductions in boiler pressure.

But if the leak in your hot water heater is that small, how are you supposed to find it? Start by filling up your water heater and testing out how long it takes for your system to depressurize – this will give you an idea of the size of the leak you are dealing with.

Next, visually check your whole hot water heater, all the way up and down. Start at the boiler: first, take all the covers off and then check all the fittings and pipes to make sure there is no water leaking from any of them. If you don’t find the leak, follow the feed pipe (the hottest pipe coming out of the hot water heater) around the outside of hot water heater until it reenters the boiler. If there are any ‘T’ joints in the feed pipe, make sure that you follow them both individually to find out if they are leaking. 

If you don’t find the leak in your hot water heater during the visual check, place some colored paper underneath your hot water heater. Leave it for a couple of hours, then come back to it – if you find water spots on the paper, use them to try and track the source of your leak.

If you still can’t find the leak in your hot water heater, your problem may be in one of the secondary heat exchangers. Older models of hot water heaters came fitted with secondary heat exchangers and heat connectors – and if your leak is coming from here, it is entirely possible that you would never notice it because the water from such a leak would run along the waste pipe with the ordinary condensate. A residential plumbing company will be able to find a leak if you have one in your heat exchanger or heat connector.

If you have performed all these steps and you still can’t find a leak in your central heating system, your problem may not be a leak but a blockage in one of your pipes. To find it, carefully feel along the length of each pipe. If you find a cold spot on any of the pipes, you may have found a blockage in your central heating system. If the whole length of pipe is cold, the blockage is in the pipe at the point where it goes cold. If the feed pipe entering the thermo valve on your radiator is hot, one of the valves on the radiator is faulty.

If you think you have a blockage in your central heating system’s pipes, a local residential plumbing company may be able to remove the pipe and flush the blockage out, or they can replace the pipe entirely.

Don’t let a leak or blockage in your central heating system leave you shivering this winter. If you suspect that your central heating system is losing pressure and you want a professional residential plumbing company from Montgomery County, Maryland (MD) or Washington, DC to take a look at it, call James A. Wheat & Sons today!