The Purpose Of A Relief Valve On A Water Heater And Signs It's Bad

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The Purpose Of A Relief Valve On A Water Heater And Signs It's Bad

6 June 2018
 Categories: , Blog


A hot water heater can develop various problems during its life. Many of them can be repaired and save you from replacing the heater unless the tank is old, rusty, and leaking. One problem that should be repaired right away is a malfunctioning relief valve. If it isn't working properly, pressure could build up to dangerous levels in your tank. Here's how the valve works and some signs it needs to be repaired.

The Purpose Of The Relief Valve

The temperature and pressure relief valve on a hot water heater allows pressure to escape the tank. It releases water when the temperature or pressure in the tank gets too high. Water expands as it heats up. This is accounted for in the construction of a water heater. But if something causes the water heater to malfunction, the water might expand more than it should and create too much pressure. If this happens, the pressure is relieved through the valve. This can prevent a tank explosion, so keeping the valve operational is important.

Under normal conditions, the valve won't leak water. If it does, that's an indication of trouble with the hot water heater that needs immediate attention. You never want to block off a relief valve because it's dripping water. Instead, the valve should be replaced if it's damaged or repairs should be done to the heater so pressure is reduced.

The Signs Of A Bad Valve

The relief valve on your water heater should be checked annually. You can do this by lifting the handle to see if water flows out of the valve. It's a quick test that makes sure the valve isn't broken or clogged up with mineral deposits. The water that comes out is hot, so take precautions when doing the test so you don't get splashed. If water comes out, then shut the valve back off and check that the water stops. Sometimes, a bad seal is revealed when the test is done and the valve won't shut off after the test. If water continues to run out or drip, turn off the water heater and call a plumber to replace the valve.

You may also notice signs of a bad valve when a puddle of water is near the hot water tank and you can't figure out what caused it. It could be due to leaking from the valve. Test the valve to see if it is functioning properly. Even if it seems to pass the test, you should have the heater checked by a plumber when you find water puddles under the valve or when you notice it dripping off and on.

A bad relief valve is repaired by replacing it with a new valve. This requires draining the tank below the level of the valve so the bad one can be removed. This is one type of hot water heater repair that you don't want to put off because when pressure can't escape an enclosed tank, the heater could explode and damage your home or injure your family. The temperature and pressure relief valve is a simple part with simple operation, but it plays a critical role in keeping the heater safe. Contact a service, like Bedell Plumbing & HVAC, for more help.