I’m sitting here in a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio the night before we begin our final preparations for our Franchisee Summit. This is an event that happens about every 18 months. As the National Technical Leader and Director of Education for the Inspect-It 1st franchise, I’ve been through this many times before. In a couple of days, we’ll have franchisees descending on the town to learn about technical, marketing and business applications. I’ll be a presenter or facilitator for several sessions.

TPR Valves and Piping

Today I’d like to talk about a misunderstood part of your home, the TPR valve and TPR piping on your water heater. There are many types of water heaters, and most include something called a TPR valve.

The TPR stands for Temperature Pressure Relief. The valve is typically ¾” in diameter and is used as one of the failsafe mechanisms to help prevent your water heater from becoming a bomb. Yes, I said a bomb. A water heater exploded here in Phoenix in 2008 and basically destroyed the home. The heater shot through the air 150 yards and landed three blocks away.

These are the main points for you to consider:

  1. Does your water heater have a TPR valve? Compare the picture to your water heater. Chances are good that if you have a conventional tank-style water heater (either electric or gas), it will have a TPR valve. Attached to this valve is piping that channels the hot steam and water to the exterior.
  2. Check the valve for any visible signs of leaks, such as rust stains.
  3. Check to make sure that the valve is not running in the open position. Most TPR piping exits to the exterior, so look for a small pipe sticking out of the wall and within 24” of the ground. It should be dry underneath this pipe.
  4. Check to make sure that the piping material is smooth (copper is most typical but some municipalities allow CPVC or galvanized steel). Flexible copper tubing is not appropriate because it may trap water and will slow down performance.
  5. Check to make sure that the piping is not narrowed from the original size of the valve, that it isn’t threaded or capped at the end and that it doesn’t slope upwards at any point along its run to daylight. Please see the attached photo.
  6. Pipes that slope upwards may retain water in the piping and prevent the TPR valve from performing its important mission.

Your home is your castle. Learn to listen to it. If you hear what it has to say you can prevent lots of problems.

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