Is your water heater pressure relief valve leaking? What is the cause, and what can you do to fix it? If you’re asking any of these questions, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn all you need to know to fix the problem.
Disclaimer: The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, financial, or DIY advice. We highly suggest consulting a professional before attempting any DIY home improvements or repairs.
Why Water Heater Pressure Relief Valves Leak
There are some common reasons why your water heater pressure relief valve might leak. One is excessively high temperatures in the water tank. Either a gas burner or electricity heats the water inside the tank, and the pressure relief valve is a safety mechanism to make sure the tank doesn’t overheat.
When water is heated, thermal expansion causes pressure to build up inside of the water tank. If the temperature gets too high, the valve will open up and drain out some of the hot water, replacing it with cooler water to lower the temperature.
This is a sign that the valve is working correctly and occasional leaking is normal. Temperatures inside the water tank range from 120 to 140 degrees. The pressure will be released if the temperature inside the tank gets to about 210 degrees and 150 psi (pounds per square inch).
If the valve is frequently opening due to high temperatures, it could be a sign of a safety hazard, and the water heater needs replacing.
Another possible cause of leaks is the valve not being appropriately sealed at the point where it connects to the water heater. Another potential issue is that the valve itself is faulty. For example, if the seal is damaged or the valve sticks to the open position.
If the water heater pressure relief valve is truly damaged and is causing the leakage, why is it a good idea to fix it right away?
- The high-pressure buildup could cause the tank to rupture or explode.
- Leaking water can cause damage to the structures surrounding the water heater.
- Excessive leakage can flood your basement and lower level of your home.
- If the tank ruptures with people in the vicinity, they could sustain severe burns from the hot water.
Your Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve Is Leaking. Now What?
What are some of the signs that your water heater pressure relief valve is leaking?
- Fluctuating or low water pressure. If you notice low or fluctuating water pressure, it could be a sign that your water heater pressure relief valve is leaking. For example, if you are using the bathroom sink and the pressure gets lower when someone turns on the faucet in the kitchen, this may be a sign of a leak.
- No water pressure. Just as with low or fluctuating water pressure, no pressure is a sign that something may be wrong with your pressure relief valve.
- Loud noises coming from inside the walls. If you hear loud banging or humming noises inside your walls, this may be a sign that your pressure relief valve is leaking. To make sure the sound is coming from the valve, go close to it and see if the sounds become louder.
What to Do When You Find a Leak
- Assess the leak. Find out whether or not the leak is from normal pressure release or a bad valve. Replace the valve if needed.
- Do a valve test to see if the pressure relief valve is functioning properly. If a lousy valve causes the leak, contact a licensed plumber to replace the valve if you don’t have the skills to do it yourself.
- Check the frequency of the leaks. If you often have leaks due to the valve opening. You may have unsafe pressure levels, and your water tank is at risk of rupturing or exploding.
- Check the valve opening to make sure it can close properly. Minerals in the water may become encrusted on the valve opening over time. If the valve is leaking because it is stuck in the open position, open and close the valve a few times quickly to get it unstuck. If the valve still sticks, you know that you need to replace it.
- Check the pressure gauge. If the valve has no pressure, it could be due to a broken spring or the valve not fitting correctly. Controlling the pressure is a vital function of the valve, and replacement is a must.
Things to Consider
If the leakage is severe, immediately turn off the water heater. If your water heater uses gas, locate the gas line, which is usually near the water heater. Turn the gas valve clockwise until the gas is entirely off.
If your water heater is powered by electricity, locate the appropriate switch in your breaker box and set it to “off.” Next, turn off the water supply to stop more water from building up in the tank.
Use caution with a leaky tank, as the water is hot and could cause burns and serious injury. Replacing a leaking water heater pressure relief valve can be a DIY project, depending on the cause of the leak.
The valves are inexpensive, and you can do a quick fix in a few simple steps:
- Turn off the water heater breaker (allow 24-48 hours for the water to cool).
- Shut the water off completely
- Remove the valve and discharge tube.
- Replace the old valve and discharge tube with new ones.
- Slowly turn on the water.
- Turn on the water heater and let it fill up again.
When to Call a Pro
If the water heater pressure relief valve is often open and leaking, there could be an issue with your water heater. If your water heater is constantly at a high temperature, there is a high-pressure buildup.
At this point, it’s always best that you call a professional as soon as you notice since there is a high risk of explosion. Repairs and replacements need to meet local plumbing codes, so it’s best to have a professional do the repair at this point.
So, Why’s Your TPR Valve Leaking?
If your water heater pressure relief valve is leaking, there’s no need to panic. A simple replacement of the valve can easily fix the issue. Testing your valve regularly can prevent costly repairs in the future.
Pay close attention to the frequency and the level of the leaks so that you know when it’s time to call a professional. Test valves regularly and replace them when necessary to avoid costly repairs in the future.
In case you still have questions, we have addressed the most common inquiries on pressure relief valves below.