Most hot water heaters have a temperature and pressure release valve. The TPR valve is a safety mechanism of boilers and water heaters that allow the appliances to release water to mitigate temperature or pressure levels in the appliance. Learning about these valves can help you understand issues that can occur with your hot water tank.
Locating Your TPR Valve
Most hot water tanks will have their TPR valve right on the tank. The valve should sit somewhere near the top, front-facing part of the tank. On some tank models, you can find the valve directly on top of the tank. You should see a valve that connects to a discharge pipe.
If you have a valve but no pipe, you should have a plumbing professional install one. If you see no valve on your hot water tank, make sure to check all around the tank. Some older tanks have no valve at all, and you should consider replacing such tanks as soon as possible.
Additionally, if the discharge pipe doesn’t point straight down, you may need to have an inspection to ascertain if it’s configured correctly. Sometimes the pipe is too short, damaged, or pointed in the wrong direction.
Understanding Your TPR Valve
Your hot water tank builds up both heat and pressure. If you’ve ever heard of a tank exploding, that was likely because of too much heat or pressure in the tank.
The TPR valve opens to release heat and pressure by letting out hot water. Once some hot water leaves the tank, cooler water comes in to replace it. Once the tank settles back within proper heat or pressure thresholds, the valve will close.
TPR draining works through gravity. This is why the drainage pipe needs to point downwards. If the pipe has a bend or becomes trapped, it can’t drain properly.
When working properly, the valve should shoot hot water out and not just leak it. If you have a perpetually leaky valve, then you may need to replace it. You can usually tell if it leaks when a puddle starts to form under the discharge pipe.
Equally, if the valve never activates, you can have a faulty valve or a drainage pipe that needs replacing. However, a well-functioning tank may never reach heat or pressure thresholds that cause the valve to activate.
If the valve stays open or discharges water frequently, you may have a plumbing or tank issue that causes a constant heat buildup or increased pressure. All these things can help you ascertain if you have a larger problem with your tank or plumbing or just a problem with your TPR valve.
Most TPR valves will have a test feature that allows you to manually discharge water. If nothing comes out when you test the valve, have a plumbing service come take a look.
Maintaining Your TPR Valve
As a mechanical component, the valve is just as prone to wear and tear as any other component. An old tank that never had its valve checked or replaced is a prime candidate for immediate TPR valve replacement.
If the valve doesn’t seem to operate as it should, then replace it. This also applies to the drainage pipe. Even if you have no issue, you should consider replacing the valve every five years.
When you look for replacements or discuss the valve with a professional, understand that the TPR valve goes by many names. You may see:
- TPR valve
- T&P valve
- T&P controls
- Control valve/li>
No matter the term, consider the health of the valve as an important part of your overall home maintenance routine. At Quality Plumbing, we offer professional plumbing repair services. Contact us for help with your TPR valves or to find out more about transitioning to a tankless water heater.