Water heaters wear out eventually, and when they finally reach the breaking point, your basement or main floor can be flooded with gallons of water. The right clean up can help prevent this water from causing any lasting moisture in your home.

1. Shut the water off.

Your first order of business should be to stop the leak in its tracks. Disconnect the heater from the water supply and, if possible, connect a hose to the heater's output to remove the remaining water into a sink or floor drain. If you have a gas heater, be sure to also shut off the gas supply line to the heater to prevent a gas leak. 

2. Get the water off the ground.

Unlike other types of leaks, like flooding or sewage back-ups, you don't have to be worried about contamination because water coming from your heater is clean. You can immediately begin water removal, and the sooner you do it the better. If your basement is unfinished, you can simply direct the water to your floor drain or sump pump. If you basement is finished, act quickly to keep water from soaking into your floors and ruining the framing and sheet rock on your walls. Use a wet vacuum to remove the water. Peel back carpet to expose the pad and use fans to dry the pad out. Open any basement windows to allow for better drying, especially if you live in a dry climate. For areas that are humid, you may be better off running a dehumidifier and a heater in the basement and leaving the windows closed.

3. Run a dehumidifier after the initial drying process.

When water slowly dries in your house, the excess vapor can spread throughout the home, increasing your indoor humidity. This extra moisture can contribute to indoor mold growth, foggy doors and windows, and feelings of discomfort, especially in the summer. Generally, extra dehumidification is needed in the weeks following the leak to prevent any problems from lingering moisture.

4. Have your home checked for moisture and mold damage before you sign off on dryness.

Your carpet may seem to have dried out well, and your walls may appear no worse for wear, but looks can be deceiving. Have your home checked for mold growth a few weeks following the spill. Careful drying of clean water from a water spill can prevent mold growth from ever occurring, but its always better to be safe than sorry.