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Thread: Water heater pressure valve leaking. 5 year old heater. Home Cheapo Strikes again.

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    Default Water heater pressure valve leaking. 5 year old heater. Home Cheapo Strikes again.

    I was changing the shutoff valve and used this pressure release valve to release pressure.
    Now it is leaking. Drip drip drip. For over a week. I thought it would stop eventually, but it hasn't.

    I really don't want to change it because my old iron pipes send rust scrapnel into my fixtures everytime I shut the water off and turn on again.

    I tried tapping the pin on the valve, and that got it from a trickle to a drip.

    Any advice other than changing it or going back in time and not touching it?

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you're lucky, if you open the valve up fully with the main valve open as well, you might flush out the crud that's likely caught on the seat. But, it might be mineral deposits on the shaft preventing it from reseating. While they recommend you open it annually to verify that it CAN open, with old iron pipes, that's a crapshoot. You'll probably have to replace it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    You can't blame this one on Home Depot! That WH is made by Rheem, a top manufacturer, and the relief valve is identical to EVERY relief valve on every unit they make! Your situation is verry common, and is related to your pipes and water, NOT to the valve. Yes...the easy out right now is to replace the valve.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    All preventive maintenance guides suggest that you operate the relief valve periodically, preferably every month, or when we perform services at a customer's house. BUT, if we did that, as you found out, that often exposes a failing valve, and then the customer thinks we are trying to "up" their bill. That is not the case, they just have a relief valve that should have been changed already. That is also your problem. All you did was find out that your relief valve was about to fail, but you sped up its timetable. Replace the valve.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    As opposed to things like your kitchen faucet or a hose bib that are convenience devices, the T&P valve on the WH is a safety device whose operation is much more critical...while leaking is an annoyance on any of them, a failed T&P valve, should it fail to open when needed, could lead to your house literally being blown up. A leak there is just an indication it needs to be replaced OR there's some safety issue. It is designed to open on its own if the temperature OR pressure gets high enough, then it releases to prevent it from being catastrophic resulting in the WH blowing up, taking lots with it in the process.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    I heard a great story from a plumber ... he said about 15 years ago the local newspaper published an article on water heaters . it said to test a relief valve once a month or so .so a couple thousand people went and jiggled the valve that hadn't been jiggles in a couple years .needless to say he said he was busy for the next two weeks 8 hours a day replacing pressure release valve on hot water heaters .

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    DIY Senior Member CanOfWorms's Avatar
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    Words of wisdom redshoe. I will replace.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    There is a video of a demonstration of what can happen with the TP valve doesn't open. It was on this forum a long time back, so it might be hard to find. They put a heater in a hole in the ground in an open field. Then applied heat. The resulting explosion blew the top of the tank maybe 100 feet into the air. It's not a myth about water heaters exploding like a bomb.

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    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    I think this Mayhem video from Allstate is appropriate on this subject:


  10. #10
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's a pretty good one, but if you Google "Exploding water heater", you can get several other interesting videos. I didn't find the one I alluded to in my first reply, but there is a dandy video by Mythbusters. One point that should be made is that for the water heater to explode, there must be two failures. First, the thermostat has to fail and not shut off so the water continues to heat. Second, the T/P has to either fail to open or the T/P drain pipe has to be blocked. If the thermostat fails the T/P should open and release the pressure. If the T/P is frozen shut but the thermostat does not fail, then you would not even know the T/P was not functioning. Most common T/P problem is it fails to shut off tightly and needs replacing. It's not dangerous when this happens, but sure can make a mess.
    Last edited by Gary Swart; 04-11-2013 at 03:40 PM.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    Gary, that Mythbusters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGWmONHipVo is pretty impressive. Fun starts at 1:20 into the video. The thing takes off like a rocket and hangs in the air 11-13 seconds. Wow. The shock stickers they put nearby showed more than 100 Gs -- lethal.

    This video by a Phoenix home inspector of his neighbor's home shows that the Allstate video isn't kidding: there's a hole in the roof of this house in an actual experience. The only thing fake about the Allstate video is that the guy watering his lawn would have been seriously injured -- in Phoenix, the thing landed 3 blocks away and all the interior walls of the house were destroyed, as well as a large hole being blown in the neighbor's house. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZEIqG2RrMs

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