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I am in the process of buying a home and found that this valve on top of the water heater that appears to have a leak. The seller claims that the leak was fixed and is no longer a problem. I didn't see actual water coming out of it, but then no one was really using the hot water while I was doing the home inspection.

Can someone please tell me what this valve does and roughly how much it might cost to fix, if it turns out that it is still leaking? I might try to have some money set aside in escrow if a leak is confirmed after we take ownership.

I am a plumbing dunce. Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

PS: Sorry if these photos are really huge.




 

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I can honestly say I have never seen a water heater like that. That's not a bad sign though. My best guess is that it's a back flow prevention device. There is an arrow that shows the way of the flow so it only works one direction. As for the pipe below it is possibly an air gap with a drain. That's my best guess as to what it is. As for the buildup I'm personally not concerned. Even if it is leaking, to get a mineral buildup like that it must be a very slow leak. You can draw your own conclusions for yourself.
 

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This is a trap primer which is made to deliver water to your floor drain to prevent it from drying out and letting sewer gas into your house. They are installed inline on a water line for a fixture in your house and are designed so that when a tap is opened, a small amount of water will drip out the bottom, where the slots are, into the bottom pipe which is tied into your floor drain. They only operate when there is flow through the device. There should not be water stains on the outside, this shows that the trap primer is failing and possibly dumping more water than the pipe can handle, or there is now some restriction of some kind in the piping off the bottom of the primer that is running to the trap. The primer itself is not that expensive, but you are probably looking at around $150-$200 installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you!

Thanks very much for the excellent information. This was the only remaining issue arising from the home inspection, and with this knowledge we can move forward. Thanks again!
 
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