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psumike 01-11-2009 07:42 PM

Natural Gas Water Heater Leaking from Release Valve Pipe?
 
A.O. Smith Natural Gas Water Heater with a Gov't Energy sticker dated 1994, but house was built in 1997. We've lived here for 3 years and no problem with the water heater until last week. We noticed after running dishwasher or doing a couple loads of laundry, we had a water trail from the water heater to a drain in the basement floor.

It took a couple times, but finally traced the leak to the water pipe coming off of the release valve pipe. Going on a friend's recommendation, I toggled the release valve up and down once and a large rush of water started coming out. It kept up this pace for a good 30 seconds as I dumped bucket after bucket. It wasn't until I toggled the switch a couple times (thinking maybe it was stuck open??) until the flow slowed down. After 30 minutes later, it finally went from a stead drip to no more water.

Water pressure and recovery hot water time and temperature seem OK with showers, sinks, etc. So I'm confused as to what might be wrong.

I went to Sear's today and saw, if I need a new one, looks like I have to buy a "power vent" model due to the installation I have (coming in at $719 for a 40 Gallon).

I'm hoping someone can shed some light on this problem before I replace my water heater.

Thanks

Termite 01-11-2009 10:35 PM

Sounds like you're talking about the T&P blowoff valve at the top or top/side of the water heater. Unfortunately your friend gave you bad advice saying to do anything with it. They're notorious for leaking forever once they've been opened. Sounds like the seal on yours might have been going bad anyhow.

The good news is that you can replace it easily and cheaply (<$7).

Turn off your water heater's gas and the water supply going to it (to keep it from filling). Drain 8 or 10 gallons of water from the heater from the valve at the bottom, or empty it alltogether using a garden hose to a floor drain. That'll help clean some sediment out probably. Get a new T&P valve and some thread tape. Remove the old one counterclockwise. Wrap the threads of the new one with 5 or 6 wraps of teflon pipe tape. Thread it in and tighten it down. Install a 3/4" pipe (CPVC is easy) to safely pipe it down toward the floor. Don't open the new valve!!!!! They say to test them but testing them usually results in replacement.

Turn the heater back on and refill it. Check for leaks at the threaded connection and from the safety pipe.

Termite 01-11-2009 10:36 PM

Out of curiosity, what's the PSU in your username stand for? Pittsburg State University by chance?

Clutchcargo 01-11-2009 11:07 PM

If you have high water pressure without an expansion tank, this can happen. Do you know what the supply line pressure is?

psumike 01-12-2009 08:38 AM

PSU = Penn State University

I'll have to check what the supply line pressure is.

And thanks for the advice on replacing the blowoff valve.

metx 01-12-2009 08:59 AM

If you are blowing off .It is 1 of two things The valve is not seating properly, or to much pressure .If you change the valve get the same psi . I always check the valve after i install a hw heater .that valve is very very important .In school many years ago the show a video on a blacked tp valve and the heater took off like a rocket ..

psumike 01-14-2009 08:18 PM

Due to my lack of knowledge and fear of messing with something connected to Natural Gas, I decided to call someone out. He checked the Water Heater Thermal Expansion Tank and pushed the button and no air came out. He said it could be either the tank, or the relief valve...but the relief valve was probably the 1st place to start.

It was replaced and after a two days, I do have a little bit of water still (compared to a lot) in the bucket. He told me if I still get water, it's probably the Thermal expansion tank.

Does everyone else concur on this? Is it hard to replace the tank? I saw the contractor shut off the water intake to the water heater and the exhaust vent pipe...I'm assuming, based on where the tank is, I also need to shut off the house water supply?


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