Water leaks stink. And they’re terribly inconvenient. But T/P valves are our friend.

You see, if it wasn’t for this little valve, then if your water heater got too hot or built up too much pressure, it would just explode, shooting scraps of scalding hot metal and water into nearby objects and people. Scary, huh? Instead, our little friend the T/P (temperature/pressure)valve  just opens a bit, and water pours all over your basement. Not great, but as far as exploding water heaters go, it’s a pretty good compromise.

Of course I discovered that either my water heater had built up too much pressure or the valve was defective just minutes before I had people coming over. I was too frantic to think straight so I called my bro, who told me to just shut off the water supply (duh). (In case you ever have to do that, it’s a valve that’s connected to one of the pipes coming out of the top of the water heater- you’ll see it.) So that was fine to stop the water, but that meant that any time I wanted hot water I would have to go downstairs and flip the valve (letting water flow all over the floor until I was done). Why, you ask, don’t I have a nearby drain for situations like these? Well I do, but it’s not at the lowest spot on the floor, so the water kinda just bypasses  it and pools in the lovely dent in the floor that does not contain a drain. Then it soaks into the concrete, letting loose all the lovely musky “old house” and “meth heads’ dogs’ pee” smells.

Thanks to Stan and Google, I figured out that the T/P valve was probably just defective and it is cheap and simple to replace.

Here’s what it looks like:

temperature/pressure valve

And here’s what you need to unscrew the old one and screw the new one on:

pipe wrench

First you need to unscrew the long pipe (seen in the below diagram on the left) from the p/t valve. Then apply the pipe wrench and give her a good twist (rightie-tightie leftie-loosie). Water will spew out everywhere, so be sure you have a bucket handy. The water will drain from the tank till it’s below the level of the valve. At that point, you can screw on the new p/t valve, tightening real good with the pipe wrench. Then just screw back on the long skinny pipe and you’re good to go!

And as for that drain bypass problem, instead of chipping up the floor and lowering the drain, I think a simple tube going from the water heater directly into the drain would work just dandy.

Here’s a little diagram that was helpful for me (of course I never take the time to learn about these things until something goes wrong).

The water supply valve is located just “up-pipe” from the “cold water inlet”.

That skinny little pipe on the left- the water will come out of the bottom of that if your p/t valve is faulty.

If, after you replace the valve, the water heater is still leaking, that probably means there is indeed too much pressure built up. You may have the water temp too hot, or you may have sediment built up somewhere, which I don’t really know anything about. Disclaimer: as you can probably tell, I am not an expert nor do I profess to be qualified to give plumbing/water heater advice; I’m just sharing what I learned. Also I’m sure Stan will comment and correct a few things.

I lost my camera cord, or I would have real pictures of the real action for you. These Google gems will just have to do. Also, talking about plumbing really brings out the redneck in me so I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post in your best Hank Hill voice.

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