How To Know If Your Hot Water System Relief Valve is Leaking
When your hot water system starts to play up, it can be frustrating and confusing – particularly if your hot water system relief valve is leaking. Hot water is something we all take for granted, and it really is easy to forget just how much we depend on it.
Murphy’s Law basically dictates that your hot water system will fail you when you most need it – in the dead of winter when it’s freezing, or the day before you have guests staying. A hot water system failure is always frustrating, but sometimes it can also be dangerous.
Getting to know the parts of your hot water system, like the ‘TPR valve’, is one way to help you diagnose problems and know when a lack of hot water might be an emergency in the making. Read on to find out more!
What is a relief valve?
A Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (or TPR valve for short) is designed as a safety measure. You’ll find it about three quarters of the way up the hot water cylinder, with a little lever handle on it. It works by automatically releasing pressure inside of your hot water cylinder during the heating cycle; when you’ve had a shower, for example, or when someone has used the dishwasher.
If the temperature or pressure of the water in the tank gets too high, it vents the hot water and prevents the system splitting or exploding. A damaged valve can definitely be dangerous.
How to know and what to do
The TPR valve will release a small amount of water throughout the day, so sometimes it can be a little difficult to determine if there’s a real leak. If you notice that the valve is constantly running, you’ll know it needs replacing.
There is a simple bit of maintenance you can perform on your hot water system to determine if the leak means the valve needs replacing.
Firstly, check to make sure that the area underneath the outlet pipe is clear from obstruction. You’ll want to make sure you’re standing as far away from the pipe as possible.
Next, carefully life the handle on the TPR valve. If the handle is stuck, don’t force it. If you can’t move it, it needs to be replaced. If you can move it, you should see very hot water flow out from the end of the outlet pipe. You’ll want to gently return the valve to the closed position, which should cut off the flow of water. If the water doesn’t stop, the valve isn’t working properly and you need to replace it.
The typical rule of thumb is that this is something you should do every 6 months or so. TPR valves have a short service life, so you should be replacing them every 5 years.
If you can’t seem to tell whether your hot water system relief valve is leaking, it’s always best to let the professionals take over. If you have any issues with your hot water system, contact the team at Gladesville Plumbing today at 9817 4777, and we’ll give you a hand!