A pressure valve is used for the protection of pressure vessels such as piping systems and other pressure applications, in case the pressure exerted on them exceeds the pressure allowed by their design. However, a pressure relief valve does not control or regulate the pressure in the pressure application. It functions only in the case of overpressure.
Cases Leading to OverpressureAn excess in the overpressure being exerted on a pressure application can result due to a variety of reasons, which include but are not limited to:
- Blocked line
- Loss of steam
- Thermal expansion
- Power failure
Pressure Valves in Water Heaters
Since water heaters can at any given time have steam, cooling water, etc. inside them, they are pressure applications which can be relieved with a pressure valve. However, in the case that the valve itself caves in and breaks, there can be drastic outcomes if not dealt with in time. They can result in flooding, your bills will go up since a faulty water heater will use more energy, and in the worst-case scenario it might even explode. A broken relief valve is no relief at all and should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible in order to avoid mishaps and injuries.
How to Know If It’s Broken
There’s no better way to know if a valve is broken than to check it. Twice every year, you should test your water heater to see if it is leaking. Testing a pressure valve for leaks is pretty easy and takes less than 5 minutes. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles for safety and be very careful since the water in that tank is going to be piping hot. If you’re not careful, you could end up burning or scalding yourself. To test, take a small vessel and place it under the outlet (the outlet is the part which faces down). Very slightly and very carefully, begin to open the pressure valve. Don’t open it completely since the water inside is hot, and go no more than 60 degrees from the position the valve was originally in. Upon opening, the water should fall down in a rapid movement, accompanied by a hissing noise due to the pressure. This indicates that the valve is running perfectly fine. If there is no water coming out, then the valve most likely leaks. Contact a repairman or immediately get it replaced. Similarly, when you release the valve the water should stop pouring. In case the water is still dripping, the valve is probably broken. Under no circumstances should you ignore the leak.
What You Can Do
Shut down the dialers on the heater which stand for cold water and gas. In the outlet at the bottom, connect a hose. Using a big bucket (around 5 gallons will do), empty the heater of the water using the hose. Be careful since the water is still pretty hot. Once the water has been removed, you can take away the discharge tube. This you do by opening it gently and partially (not completely), and check if there’s still water coming out. Place a vessel underneath the valve just in case. If there’s still water there, drain more from the heater. Once the water stops pouring, unscrew the relief valve using a pipe wrench. Look up the pressure settings for your valve and buy a new one with the same settings. If unsure about your involvement in the repair, you can always reach out to Miami Water Heater and our professionals will take care of the job for you.