This month we continue discussing Inspection Safety Hazards found during home inspections

One of the things we as home inspectors look at when conducting a home inspection is the TPR valve on the home’s water heater. All water heaters are required to have a Temperature & Pressure-Relief Valve, also known as a TPR valve. A TPR valve prevents your water heater from actually exploding. When water is heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit it will boil, vaporize and expand 1700 times its original size. Without a relief valve, this pressure will rupture the water heater tank and explode. In the early 20th century this was a major concern because pressure relief valves were not integrated into the design of water heaters.

However, modern water heaters are designed with safety features and can withstand years of normal household use. The TPR is located on the side or top of the water heater. It is engineered to open if it senses pressure over 150 psi or if the temperature in the tank exceeds 210 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the feature that prevents the tank from exploding.

(This picture is a deficiency in which the TPR valve does not have the proper extension attached. We recommend an extension terminating 6” from the floor)

Even though modern water heaters are designed to be relatively maintenance-free, it is important to check the condition of your TPR valve annually. Check the connection between the TPR valve and the tank for corrosion. This could indicate leaking at the tank. Check that the valve itself is not leaking. This could indicate the valve is stuck open. Also, check that the TPR valve has an extension pipe and that the pipe extends within 6 inches of the ground. This pipe serves to direct the flow of water if the valve were to open. Additionally, this pipe must be the same diameter as the TPR outlet and may not restrict the flow of water in any way. This means that the pipe must always point downwards and it may NOT have a shutoff valve. Without this pipe, you could be burned by 210 degree pressurized water in the event the valve was to open. Checking your TPR valve annually will ensure that your water heater is safe for years to come. Finally, if you are concerned about the condition of any aspect of your water heater, contact a plumber for further evaluation and to correct any issues.

If you need a home inspection in Norfolk or Virginia Beach please call Summit Home Inspections and our Certified Professional Home Inspector will perform your home inspection.

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