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Thread: Please help, I'm worried!

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Jessiann's Avatar
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    Default Please help, I'm worried!

    I live in a townhouse. Each unit has its own hot water heater, located in each house's garage. Coming out of the wall (outside) between my neighbor's garage and my garage is a valve (spigot?) that apparently is where the hot water can drain out from both of our hot water heaters. I didn't know this, but have noticed water coming out periodically. I always thought (for some dumb reason) it had something to do with our gutter system. Tonight I ordered pizza and the delivery guy told me what that valve (spigot?) really is. He said its something to be concerned about, A LOT of water has come out.

    My question is this: how can I tell if its my water heater or my neighbor's that is releasing this water? I went in and looked at mine, but I have no idea what to look FOR. I felt the pipe/hose thingy (yes, I'm really clueless) that leads from the relief valve into the wall (apparently it goes through the wall to drain outside) and it doesn't feel like water is moving through it...but its not coming out very fast outside, so I don't know if I'd be able to feel anything anyway.

    I don't know what to do...should I turn the gas supply on the heater to "pilot" until its figured out? If I do that, how will I know when its safe to turn back on? Should I also turn off the water supply to the tank? I don't have any money to call a plumber, and won't until Thursday. If worst comes to worst I can shower/do laundry at someone else's house, but I'd rather just be able to figure out if its my tank or the neighbor's.

    Please help...I am clueless (obviously) and very scared that its going to explode or something.

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member Jessiann's Avatar
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    I just did a little more investigating. I went out and felt the metal drain thingy that the water is coming out of...it is hot to the touch because the water coming out is hot. I went into my garage and climbed up to feel the (copper?) coiled pipe-thing that takes the hot water out of my tank and into my house for use. It is hot to the touch (which I would expect). Then I felt the coiled pipe-thing that leads from the tank into the wall (and therefore out to the drain), and it is NOT hot. It is the same type of pipe as the one that carries the hot water into my house...so wouldn't it be hot if it were draining hot water outside...especially since the spigot it is coming out of outside is also hot?

    So I'm pretty sure its the neighbor's tank. Does my deduction sound accurate?

  3. #3
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    You are probably on the right track. If I had to venture a guess I would say you are talking about the T&P discharge. T&P is temperature and pressure, it is a safety valve. Your neighbor may have a big problem or a little problem. Sometimes the valves go bad. Other times they start leaking because for whatever reason either the temperature or the pressure in the water heater is too high.

    I would talk to your neighbor about it ASAP.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member Jessiann's Avatar
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    Thanks Matt. She isn't home and I don't have her phone number, but I left a note on her door, so hopefully she will see it when she gets back. Sorry for my complete lack of knowledge about the lingo. I just looked at the user manual and yes, it is the T&P valve I'm talking about. The hot water heater is located in the very back of my garage, and from the T&P valve, a copper pipe is connected and then goes into the wall (rather then a pipe going down and draining into the floor like in the diagram in my manual). Then, apparently, it travels through the wall all the way out to the front of the garage to drain outside. Pretty cool, now that I know what it is, because it would help prevent flooding I suppose.

    So, it's the copper pipe that leads from the T&P valve that is cool to the touch, and the spigot the hot water is coming out of outside is very hot to the touch.

    Thanks for your input...I'll sleep better knowing it probably isn't my water heater.

    Incidentally, if I wanted to get my tank serviced just to make sure its a-ok (as the manual says I should get it serviced regularly-oops), would that be something a plumber does?

  5. #5

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    If she still isn't around what about asking another neighbor to see if they have a phone number? I don't know if this is sound advice, and I am not suggesting it, but, if me, I would try a door or window to see if it is opened, if I were on friendly terms with them. If the damage is getting severe or you are afraid of something exploding, I would call the police.

    Just my 2 cents worth. Especially since you are talking the closeness of a townhouse, and if I had kids.

  6. #6
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Yes a plumber can do your water heater service. Honestly, probably only about 5% (if that) of water heaters actually do get regularly maintained, most just wait until there is a problem (include me in that bunch). Ideally your heater will get flushed once a year and the T&P looked at for issues.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  7. #7
    DIY Member flamefix's Avatar
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    Certainly sounds like a T&P discharge. It could be a faulty valve or it could be a faulty pressure vessel or it could be a fault on the stat controlling the heater for the tank. The T&P is designed to relieve the tank(cylinder) that stores your hot water if it gets too hot or over pressurises. Therefore it is a fault condition that should be rectified with urgency.

    The discharge from this pipe can be scalding hot but generally it would be routed to safely discharge, with a visual means to notify the user of a fault.
    See the end of this video for a brief visual.
    http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?...ient=firefox-a
    Gas, Oil, solar and renewable service and installation in Devon UK- Please note my advice is not based on USA regulations as I am UK resident. Therefore I will try to avoid posting where confusion may be caused or make that clear.
    http://www.flamefix.co.uk

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    As previously noted, the T/P is a safety valve. It protects from two things. Excessive temperature and excessive pressure. I a T/P becomes corroded and did not open when it should the water heater literally becomes a bomb. When it opens when it should not, it just releases water. While a water leak from the T/P certainly can cause damage from flooding if these is no place for the water to go, it will not cause the tank to explode so I see no danger of an explosion here, just a problem that should be addressed promptly. There are some other reasons the T/P may be releasing water, so it needs to be checked by a plumber to determine the exact cause and provide remedy. For your added information, the two copper flex pipes on top of the tank are for the incoming water (cold) and the outgoing water (hot) These flexible pipes make connecting the tank much easier than connecting with ridged pipes that have to fit quite precisely. The T/P valve is either mounted on top of the tank or on the side of the tank near the top. It will have a pipe coming out of it, usually running down the outside of the tank to act as a drain if the T/P opens.

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