Temperature and Pressure (T&P) relief valves
Temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valves used on residential water heaters are typically designed and manufactured to relieve on pressure at 150 psig and on temperature at 210 degrees F. These ASME, ANSI and CSA (AGA) approved relief valves protect the water heater from excess pressures and temperatures by discharging water.
In normal operation of the water heater and T&P valve, no water should be discharged from the valve. A T&P valve that discharges is an indication of an abnormal condition in the system and by discharging, the T&P valve is meeting its designed safety purpose. The causes of discharge can be thermal expansion, excess system pressure, low temperature relief, too high a setting on the water heater, or something in the water heater causing excess temperatures in the heater.
Thermal Expansion: When water is heated it expands. In a 40 gallon water heater, water being heated to its thermostat setting will end up expanding by approximately 1/2 gallon. The extra volume created by this expansion has to go somewhere or pressure will dramatically increase, such as when water is heated in a closed system.
A good indication of thermal expansion is when the T&P valve releases about one cup of water for each 10 gallons of heater capacity with each heating cycle. The T&P valve is functioning properly when it relieves pressure caused by thermal expansion, but frequent relief can build up natural mineral deposits on the valve seat, rendering the valve inoperative. This condition can be addressed by the installation of a Watts thermal expansion tank or other Watts thermal expansion device to protect your system from overpressure caused by thermal expansion. If there is no discharge from the valve, there is no need to replace the valve.
System Pressure: If installation of a thermal expansion device does not relieve occasional dripping from the T&P valve, then the system pressure should be checked. If system pressure is excessive (typically more than 75 PSI), a Watts pressure regulator should be installed on the incoming water line.
Warning: The discharge from a T&P valve can be very hot. It is very important that all T&P valves be installed properly with a discharge line piped downward to an adequate drain to avoid property damage and to minimize possible human contact. Please read and follow the instructions on the warning tag attached to your T&P valve.
Correct Installation of T&P Relief Valves
Important Instructions: Relief Valves and Automatic Gas Shut-Off Devices Combination temperature and pressure relief valves with extension thermostats must be installed so that the temperature-sensing element is immersed in the water within the top 6″ (152mm) of the water storage tank. They must be installed either in the hot outlet service line or directly in a tank tapping. Combination temperature and pressure relief valves that do not have extension elements must be mounted directly in a tank tapping located within the top 6″ (152mm) of the water storage tank. Valves must be located so as to assure isolation from flue gas heat or other ambient conditions that are not indicative of stored water temperature.
WARNING: To avoid water damage or scalding due to valve operation, discharge line must be connected to valve outlet and run to a safe place of disposal. Discharge line must be as short as possible and be the same size as the valve discharge connection throughout its entire length. Discharge line must pitch downward from the valve and terminate at least 6″ (152mm) above a drain where any discharge will be clearly visible. The discharge line shall terminate plain, not threaded. Discharge line material must conform to local plumbing codes or ASME requirements. Excessive length over 30′ (9.14m), or use of more than four elbows or reducing discharge line size will cause a restriction and reduce the discharge capacity of the valve.
No shut-off valve shall be installed between the relief valve and tank, or in the discharge line. Valve lever must be tripped at least once a year to ensure that waterways are clear. When manually operating lever, water will discharge through discharge line and precautions must be taken to avoid contact with hot water and to avoid water damage. This device is designed for emergency safety relief and shall not be used as an operating control. If discharge occurs, a licensed contractor must evaluate the system and determine the cause for discharge and correct the cause immediately.
To ensure proper operation, this valve must be installed by a qualified service technician or licensed plumbing contractor in accordance with these instructions and the local plumbing codes and standards. Repair or alteration of valve in any way is prohibited by national safety standards/local codes.