Water seems like one of the safest things you could have in your home. The truth, however, is that the equipment you use to heat water and send it throughout your home requires careful attention to avoid becoming a serious hazard. Here are a two common signs that you need water heater repair immediately, before you risk an explosion.
Leaking Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
At the top of the storage tank for the water heater, there is a temperature and pressure relief valve. This component is different from the drain valve located at the bottom. If you ever notice leaking from this valve, you must request water heater repair as soon as possible. Generating heat and warming the water in the tank changes the air pressure in the tank. The temperature and pressure relief valve is designed to release some of that pressure if it gets too high. If not, the tank could leak or rupture, sending all the water in the tank out in any direction.
The trouble increases dramatically as the water temperature rises. Water heaters are built to limit the temperature of the water inside the storage tank. If the temperature rises too high, the system should shut off the heating component. However, failure of some functions of the water heater, such as the thermostat, gas valve or TPR valve, can combine to create a disaster. Once the water temperature reaches or exceeds boiling (212 degrees Fahrenheit), the TPR valve should release some water to prevent excessive pressure buildup. If the TPR valve fails, water temperatures could continue to rise. The water eventually escapes through some structural weakness of the tank, such as a corroded drain valve, and converts immediately to steam. The pressure of the steam could literally launch the water heater into the air. With regular maintenance, a qualified plumber tests the TPR valve for proper function, arranging for repair or replacement when needed.
Leaking Natural Gas Valve
An excess of fuel in your home is also a recipe for disaster, since fuel can combust with little encouragement. You have a natural gas valve in your home, but the water heater also has its own gas valve. The gas valve component of your water heater controls the flow of fuel to the pilot and to the burner. Thermostatically controlled gas valves are designed to shut off if the water temperature gets too close to boiling. If the gas valve fails, it may not stop the fuel from flooding the system. You will notice it by smelling natural gas around the water heater. A natural gas leak is highly explosive. All it takes is a slight ignition to make the entire area burst into flames.
Protecting your home and your water heater is an important goal, especially during the winter. The condition of your water heater’s temperature, pressure relief valve and natural gas valve may be difficult to determine without professional assistance. If you observe either of these problems in your home, you need emergency water heater repair service immediately.