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This morning, I noticed no air was coming out of one of the floor vents. Luckily, the AC wasn't out--it was just the one vent. I explored the crawl space and found that the ducting to that vent had come off the box under the furnace. I think there should have been some kind of clamp or tie holding it on, but there wasn't. No telling how long it had been off.

Anyway, while I was down there, I saw water running out of a pipe. This pipe just came down through the floor and was left open to the crawl space. Once inside the house, I realized this is where the mystery pipe came from.

I'm wondering if it's normal to have water coming out of that pipe, or if it means the water heater is going bad. It's not leaking inside the house where I took the picture. It's just that water is running out of it down in the crawl space.
 

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The pipe in the picture is hooked up to the temperature & pressure relief valve (T&P relief valve).

It's probably leaking because there's something lodged in the seat of the valve holding it open. Try pulling on the little sliver handle for a few seconds, that may help to dislodge whatever is holding it open.

It could also be that the valve is defective, but I'd try the above first.
 

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Wow. Thanks for that reply.

I flipped it up for about 3-4 seconds, then dropped it down. Then did it again.

Crawled under the house, and water continues running out to pipe.

About a year ago, my water bill suddenly doubled. It was about the time of a local water main break that was supposed to cause our rates to go up, and I always assumed that was the cause. Besides, I couldn't find anything leaking. I've been paying $80 a month, where I used to pay around $40.

So, is it just this valve that is leaking? I really don't want to replace the whole water heater!
 

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Let's see if I can paint a picture about municipal water main breaks: They are bad news for homeowners. When this main breaks, or cracks, after they turn the water off, guess where all of that soaked dirt goes that is above the break in the piping? Yep, back into the pipe. After the main is repaired, some municipalities will go to the nearest fire hydrants located on each side of the break/repair and allow a super lot of water to flow out to help clean out the debris left by the break. BUT--a lot of this gets into the water system and eventually into your home's water supply. Have you ever had to clean the aerator/strainers in you home after a water main break near your home? A lot of this was debris which came through from the break. Your water heater is no different which is basically what VIPlumber was referring to. There could still be some debris in this T&P valve which has not become dislodged yet. Don't give up yet, try opening this valve again by pulling the handle up all the way, letting it run for just a few minutes, and then slowly releasing it. I don't like to allow them to "slam" shut, old school training. IF you do this a few time more and it just won't stop, then it's time to change the valve. This is a DIY job if you feel handy enough.
 

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This valve leaking could be the reason why your water bill doubled although we cannot yet rule out additional leaks.

The temperature and pressure valve can be replaced without replacing the whole water heater.
 

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In 4 years I have only seen 1 bad T&P valve and it was on a commercial hot water booster.

It's worth a shot, but if it doesn't fix the problem, it could be that the T&P is doing what it is supposed to do. Either dump water that is over temp, or dump water that is over pressure.
 

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Water expands when heated. Water (unlike air) does not compress. If some changes were made in the plumbing, anything from new faucet washers to a new backflow preventer in the incoming line, or if there is no expansion tank in the plumbing system or a waterlogged expansion tank, the temp & pressure valve could open up frequently although it should close completely after a moment.
 
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