There are safety features that manage pressurized tanks so that when overheating occurs, pressure release can happen rather than rupture the tank. For the water heater, the T& P valve (temperature & pressure) valve is designed only to activate if the water temperature or pressure in the tank is excessive (above 210° F or 150 PSI). This way, it protects the water heater and maintains it to keep producing hot water when needed.

When T& P inside the tank gets too high, the T&P valve will open and release water to relieve pressure, thereby avoiding explosion or damage.


Things You Should Know

  • As T&P valves get old, they can begin to drip or leak and may need to be fixed. So, to manage T&P valves, frequently test the lever timely to see whether it snaps back into place or was correctly replaced.


Part 1: How to Test a T&P Relief Valve

The T&P relief valve should be tested at least once yearly to confirm it works suitably. It’s not uncommon for valves to wear out and must be fixed.

  • Locate the T&P Valve. Locate the valve of your tank, typically at the top or side of the water heater.
  • Remove the drain pipe. A drain pipe, at least 6 inches from the drain, is also attached to the valve. Pull it off the valve and put a bucket underneath.
  • Discharge Water. Gently lift the valve’s lever to push a stream of water to drain from the tank for about a minute. You should hear water and air coming from the valve, and see water flowing into the bucket. Then close.

If the T&P relief valve continues to release water, even after re-seating the valve, then the valve is faulty and needs to be fixed or replaced.


Part 2: How to Fix a T&P Valve

Your water heater pressure relief valve is getting faulty when you notice it sticking (difficulty opening or closing it). Another sign is if you see a leakage – when it constantly drips (which lowers the water pressure).

  1. To Fix a Sticky Valve. A sticky valve is stuck downwards or upwards (either closed or open position).
  • If stuck downwards, the valve will not dutifully manage the pressure or heat in a closed water heater system. So, it will eventually crack up.
  • If stuck upwards, water will not cease to leak. This is a flood in the making. You can only depend on quick fixes like opening and shutting the valve lever for so long. As long as it is sticky, it is a hazard that will need replacement.
  1. To fix a Leaky T&P Valve. 
  • First, verify that the water puddle around your water heater is, in fact, a leak and not just condensation.
  • Turn the power off. Also, shut off the main cold-water valve feeding into the water heater.
  • Find the source of the leak.
  • If water leaks from the top of the water heater, examine the warm water outlet pipe and cold-water inlet attached at the top. If their fittings or connections are loose, use a pipe wrench and re-tighten the pipes.
  • If water leaks from the sides, the T&P valve is faulty if your temperature is below 200° F.
  • If water leaks from the bottom, your water heater may be cracked. This will trigger a replacement and not a repair.

Related Content: How to Turn Off the Gas to Your Water Heater


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