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Old 03-19-2011, 12:09 PM   #1
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


I have a strange situation, Not too long ago I heard what sounded like water running.

I went around the entire house inside and out and couldn't find the source. It did sound like it was coming from the back of the house though.

I went out in the light and saw that this protrusion was pouring water like a faucet. I had always thought this thing was for condensation from my AC unit. I am stumped!

I turned off the main line and the water slowed down and eventually stopped when I opened up the spigot and drained all the water in the lines.

Here is a quick vid:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G29LMrsh6pc

The water coming out is cold, but I cant think of anything it could be. I have been poking around all over the internet and found this site seemed like a good place to ask for help. Does anyone have any idea what this could be and how to fix it?

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Old 03-19-2011, 12:36 PM   #2
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


That should be you're temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve line. See link below for photo. If it is, check your water pressure (should be no higher than 80 PSI). If your watger heater is older than 10 years, consider replacing it. If nothning else, replace the valve.
http://www.amazon.com/Camco-10463-Te.../dp/B0024E6URC

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Old 03-19-2011, 02:28 PM   #3
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


How do I check my water pressure?

Thank you for your help!
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by LordOfChaos View Post
How do I check my water pressure?
Buy a water pressure gauge with a hose bib connector and just connect it to a water faucet with that type of male threads. Usually an outside faucet or in a laundry tray. Recommend buying a gauge that can save the maximum pressure reading like this one:


The picture is from here: http://www.freshwatersystems.com/p-1...s-276h300.aspx
I can't vouch for the seller since I never bought from them yet.

The red pointer remembers the maximum pressure. Having the max pressure capability will allow you to leave the pressure gauge on after a lot of hot water is used and no one opens any water faucet including cold faucets. Like over night. When your water heater heats the water "without anyone turning on any faucet AND you don't have any leaking faucets", the water pressure will build to a maximum pressure. Later, even if someone opens any faucet, hot or cold, the pressure will drop but the gauge will remember the highest pressure.

If the max pressure is too high, you should install an expansion tank for your water heater which prevents the pressure relief valve on the heater from releasing water from the heater. Though from the amount of flow from your heater now, your PRV needs to be replaced. An expansion tank will also reduce the chances of developing faucet and toilet valve leaks caused by excessive water pressure, even if the pressure doesn't get high enough to cause the PRV on your heater to relieve the pressure.

The black pointer gives the real time water pressure reading which you can use to get the normal water pressure in your system.

HRG

Last edited by Homerepairguy; 03-19-2011 at 06:18 PM. Reason: Added info about faucet and toilet valve leaks.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:28 PM   #5
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Similar gauges, but not as nice, are available at most blue apron, orange apron, and ACE hardware stores. These will not have the pointer which records the max pressure when you are not looking at the gauge, but will show you the pressure at a glance. Most water pressure's on municipal systems are at their highest points in the early A.M. hours just as the pumps are finishing filling those large tanks we see every where. ID you so find your pressure spikes at any given time of day, an expansion tank and/or Water Pressure Regulator (WPR) would be in order. IF you find that your pressure is within specs: I'd say in the 45 psi to 60 psi max pressures, then you may want to have the T&P valve replaced.
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:15 PM   #6
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


OK got a pressure gauge. It was around 70 PSI.

Is there another source that could be draining to that?
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:28 PM   #7
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" These will not have the pointer which records the max pressure when you are not looking at the gauge, but will show you the pressure at a glance."
I got mine from either HD or L and it has the red pointer.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:12 PM   #8
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


Oh and just a heads up, I had the water heater replaced a little over a year ago.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordOfChaos View Post
Oh and just a heads up, I had the water heater replaced a little over a year ago.
70 PSI is fine. If your water heater is only a year old, contact the plumber who installed it (if you had a plumber do it) so he/she can come and check/replace the T&P. If you did it yourself, get the model of the water heater, go to your local plumbing supply house for a replacement T&P.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by LordOfChaos View Post
Oh and just a heads up, I had the water heater replaced a little over a year ago.
At this point, you need to verify what's feeding that drain spigot. Cold water flowing out seems to indicate that it is not from your heater's pressure relief valve. As you already know, turning off the main water line and the flow stopping verifies that the flow cannot be from condensation from an air conditioner and must be flow from your plumbing system. What's behind the wall where the water is flowing out from?
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:55 AM   #11
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If you want to check out if the HWT P&T valve is leaking then feel it's drain line four feet away from the valve. If its draining like you said it will be a hot pipe. If it's cold then you'll have to look elsewhere for the water source. The water coming out the far end of your drainline for the P&T valve would also have to go some distance through an uninsulated area for the pipe to cool the hot water.

If it is the P&T valve and your static house water pressure is higher than 70PSI you might want to try adjusting your house pressure reducing valve back down before investing in & installing the expansion tank. If your pressure reducing valve is over twenty years old it may not be adjustable anymore and would then need to be replaced.
If this one year old tank replaced a Hot water tank that also had a short life span, then maybe you also need to find a more effective plumber.
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:41 AM   #12
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


Did you trace the line back into the house? if so where does it go? I see the suggestions here point toward the T&P valve, but without knowing where that line originates no one including you can even venture a guess as to why there is flow.

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Old 03-20-2011, 09:01 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by how View Post
If you want to check out if the HWT P&T valve is leaking then feel it's drain line four feet away from the valve. If its draining like you said it will be a hot pipe. If it's cold then you'll have to look elsewhere for the water source. The water coming out the far end of your drainline for the P&T valve would also have to go some distance through an uninsulated area for the pipe to cool the hot water.

If it is the P&T valve and your static house water pressure is higher than 70PSI you might want to try adjusting your house pressure reducing valve back down before investing in & installing the expansion tank. If your pressure reducing valve is over twenty years old it may not be adjustable anymore and would then need to be replaced.
If this one year old tank replaced a Hot water tank that also had a short life span, then maybe you also need to find a more effective plumber.
Thanks for all the replies.

When the plumber installed my water heater he installed an expansion tank and said it was code or something to that effect. He works with my best friend who are both in construction. I trust that he is a good plumber (not that he couldnt make a mistake though). The tank we replaced was about 10-11 years old.

I felt down the line to see if the pipe was warm, but it was just room temperature. I opened the P&T valve a little, and the pipe got warm. I dont know if that rules out anything. Would it be possible to purge the whole system somehow? I dont know if the addition of the expansion tank did something (or even what it does for that matter)

I havent torn up the wall behind that drain yet. Remembering back before we finished the basement, I know there is a shut off valve to the exterior water spigot. I didnt notice where that drain pipe went. At this point tearing up a bunch of sheet rock doesnt seem like it will help me more than calling in a plumber though.

Thanks again to everyone who is helping.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:21 AM   #14
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Strange leak - Water Heater?


Just try opening up the T&P valve on your water heater, then go outside and see if the flow has increased. If so, you have a bad T&P valve. Just replace it. It's probably just jammed with debris.

If your water pressure is 70psi, that's not excessive and is nothing to worry about.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:53 AM   #15
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Just try opening up the T&P valve on your water heater, then go outside and see if the flow has increased. If so, you have a bad T&P valve. Just replace it. It's probably just jammed with debris.

If your water pressure is 70psi, that's not excessive and is nothing to worry about.
Ok, opened it up, let it run for about 1 minute or so. No increase in water outside or any heat to the water.

I am guessing this is ruling out the water heater as a culprit?

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