Water heaters are strong pieces of equipment that last a long time. Unfortunately, this causes many homeowners to completely forget about them. While water heaters aren’t as troublesome as other appliances, when a problem does develop, it can be very serious.
Since the water heater tank holds about 50-100 gallons of water, any leak can cause a lot of property damage. You don’t want to come home to a flooded basement and then start thinking about water heater maintenance.
A little maintenance now will vastly improve the performance and safety of your water heater. Just set a little reminder every 6 months to perform some key maintenance tasks, such as testing the temperature and pressure relief valve.
What is a Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve?
The TPR valve is critical to the safety and proper operation of your water heater. This safety valve releases water and pressure if it becomes too high inside the tank.
For instance, if there is a malfunction with the thermostat and the temperature gets too high, the valve will open to allow steam to escape safely. Water heaters can explode if the pressure gets too high and the valves do not work properly.
How to Catch the Leaking Water
While TPR valves are absolutely essential for safety purposes, they often leak with small surges in pressure. Since this is their purpose, there is no way to prevent the valve from leaking, however, a correct configuration will properly discharge the water outdoors.
The other way to catch leaking water from the TPR valve is by collecting the water with a pan underneath the heater. Hopefully, this pan will have a hole that allows water to escape into a drain.
How to Test Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve
One of the most common problems with water heaters are leaking and defective TPR valves. Sometimes, debris, rust, corrosion, and freezing temperatures can cause the TPR valve to fail.
We recommend testing your TPR valve ever 6 months to make sure it’s working properly.
- To test the TPR valve, simply lift it up and down several times. This should lift the attached brass stem and hot water should get flow out of the drainpipe.
- You should hear a gurgling sound as the valve allows some water to be released into the drain tube. If no water comes out or if there is just a little trickle, contact a plumber to replace the valve.
- If water continues to flow out of the valve after the test, continue to raise and lower the valve to free any debris that may be putting it out of adjustment.
- After the test, lower the water heater thermostat temperature to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scalding and overheating. The ideal water pressure should be between 50 and 60 psi.
- Make sure the TPR drainpipe is made of heat-resistant material, such as copper. If the drainpipe is leaking or causing any leaks around your water heater, contact a professional plumber right away.
- Ideally, the drainpipe should discharge water outside of the house around 6-24 inches above the ground.
Learn more water heating troubleshooting tips.
If the TPR valve constantly leaks or you notice any other problems with the valve or drainpipe, contact Service Champions to correct it. We have years of experience working with all types of water heaters and are happy to answer all your questions.