electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking

Electric Water Heater Pressure Test Valve | Repair and Replacement Guide

Is your electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking?

Why on earth would an electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking start to leak? Is the first question that pops into a regular home owner’s head or any other inexperienced person for that matter. And that includes a big shout out to all you ladies out there as well.

No offense intended back there by the way. The person with some sort of a plumbing background, when it comes to a pressure relief valve leaking issue of an electric water heater, it’s considered as an easy fix most of the time. The reason for mentioning most of the time is because, if it starts leaking again after fixing, then it actually is a headache for even the so-called “The experience plumbers” out there.

When looking at this issue at a glance, the electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking is actually a pretty easy thing to reverse back to its normal state as I said earlier. Because all you’ll have to do is replace the valve, which costs under 20 bucks.

Although it may sound like a pretty big deal if you haven’t done it previously. But it’s just a matter of draining the water out of the water heater and removing the discharge tube, and you are ready to replace the valve, that’s it. Sounds smooth right? Mind you, that was the best scenario and worst is yet to come below.

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Is the electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking again and again?

If it works with the valve replacement, then congratulations to you, there is nothing to worry about. But for whatever reason, if this relief valve starts leaking again and again, that’s a problem. This is what I call the worst-case scenario of the replacement where it’s only working according to rule by merely doing what it’s supposed to do.

We can’t complain too much about it since that’s a predictable response in a high-pressured environment sometimes. But also, this is where it gets a little complicated for us, as homeowners. Don’t worry, I’ll elaborate what I meant by that in a second.

What happens inside the water heaters tank is a little tricky sometimes, but let’s look at the physical aspect of it first without complicating it further. Water tends to expand due to the heat naturally. So, when that happens, this heated water has a tendency of flowing back towards the cold-water inlet, and that flow of water slowly follows back to its original path where the water comes into your house initially. This is something we don’t want to happen as we have already paid a lot towards a good electric water heater.

Is your electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking?

Technically speaking, when a water heater warms the water inside the tank, it builds up quite a good amount of pressure. This extra amount of pressure causes the water to expand, although it’s a closed system that we have in electric water heaters. So, when there’s a lot of pressure being built inside our electric water heater pressure relief valve, it will eventually start leaking water outwards.
So now that you have a better idea about your electric water heater, why the relief valve leaks, and how water reacts to heat on a scientific level, don’t you think that it’s time to give a small break to the electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking problem?

Why not think of a Pressure regulator?

It’s an eye opener for sure. Well, in some Apartments, its common pressure regulators than to have check valves to be installed in their water supply lines. And this is even true when it comes to houses in some parts of the world. It’s worthwhile checking the entire water supply system in your house because it matters a lot when you have an electric water heater.

You might even ignore this, but I have to warn you, water pressure matters. Of course, having a low water pressure is horrible and sluggish when you have a lot of members in your house who consume large amounts of water at the same time.

It can be a pain in the mornings, especially where you use multiple bathrooms to go to work and when the kids go to school. Just as bad as that, having a water supply which has a tremendous pressure isn’t going to be favorable for your electric water heater either. This is where a pressure regulator comes into the rescue.

So for whatever reason, if you do not have a regulator in your house or apartment, the first thing you should think of is installing a good pressure regulator, if you are serious about avoiding damage to both valuable as well as non-valuable plumbing fixtures you have installed in your house. Because it doesn’t matter whether the plumbing components monetarily valuable or not. When they get damaged due to whatever reason, it’s always a huge hassle to install them or repair them again

I get the main pro, but aren’t there any cons of using a regulator?

I know I bragged a lot about the regulator by saying that you should install one immediately. But it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect by any means. It comes with a problem as well.

Yes, the regulator works as a non-return valve that lets the water into your home while not allowing the water to go back which results in a closed system as defined by experts. But, the main con of the regulator is that it causes this electric water heater pressure relief valve leaking in our homes sometimes.


But we cannot come into a rock-solid conclusion just like that, as the regulator isn’t the only culprit here. Because the con on the regulator I have mentioned above is a rare situation that does not happen very often. So as you can see, the pro is actually greater than it’s con. In other words, it’s not an excuse for not installing a pressure regulator in my opinion.

This rule also applies to hot water heating systems; when a boiler heats the water in a hydronic heating system, the expansion tank allows for the water to expand without the pressure relief valve leaking.  If the pressure relief valve on a boiler system chronically leaks, even after replacement, it probably means there is a problem with the expansion tank.

BY : FIX IT Home Improvement Channel

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