I'm not sure when the water heater started leaking. We didn't notice it until May.
It was a wet winter. Our back patio floods easily (drainage problem), so when a puddle of water appeared, we didn't know that anything was wrong. It took a while to realize that the puddle was constant, there was no precipitation to cause it, and it really should have dried up a long time ago.
That's when we noticed the pipe. Water had never come from it before, but now there was a steady stream of drops.
The only place it could have been coming from was the attic.
We live in a three-story townhouse. Above the third story is a crawl space that for lack of a better name I'm calling an attic. The heater/ac unit is up there. So is the water heater.
The water heater had to be leaking.
So, first we called the homeowners' insurance company. It took them about a week to send somebody. It took so long primarily because I was busy working, and they couldn't send someone after school hours or on the weekend. They guy came, looked, and said yep, the water heater was leaking.
As long as the water heater needed to be replaced, we thought about going tankless. The guy gave us an estimate. We wanted another. So, we called the contractor from the kitchen remodel for a recommendation.
A couple days later Rich came by. He looked. He explained why a tankless was a bad idea. It turned out that the gas line running to the water heater was too small for a tankless water heater, and putting in the proper line would be prohibitively expensive.
The insurance company would pay for the replacement of the water heater, provided we went through their company. So, we made an appointment with the first guy. It took about two weeks to get the appointment.
The day of the appointment I had that surprise assignment, so I figured that it would be all done by the time I got home. Unfortunately, things did not work out like that.
It took two weeks to get the appointment because the guy was out of town. According to the guy, he only found out that day that we were on his appointment list. Because the water heater was in that attic, it would be more expensive for removal (a cost we had to cover). He was going to need to bring in extra help that had not been scheduled. He was going to need to reschedule the appointment.
I wondered if he used to work for the local cable company. (There's a reason most of the households around here have satellite TV.)
After that run around, it was time to call Rich back. He's a busy guy, so today was the first day he was available to come out.
Was it difficult? Sure. We knew that going in. But at least Rich didn't whine and complain about it.
So, finally, we have a new water heater. The old one was rusted along the bottom. (I have pictures, but I haven't uploaded them yet.)
They started at 7:30 AM. They were done by noon. (Rich had help.) They had to empty the water heater (the drain spigot fell off in the process). Then they had to take it down the ladder, through the hall, down the first set of stairs, down the second set of stairs, and out the door. Then they had to get the new water heater back they way they had come.
The pipe is no longer leaking. Hopefully it'll stay that way.