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  1. 2)The TPR valve has opened because because of unsafe water temperature or pressure in tank. This could be caused by a defective thermostat, or because mineral and crud buildup at the bottom of the tank of a gas water heater has caused the water to boil beneath it. Some TPR valves have piping that bypasses the pan and runs to an exterior location instead. In that case, #1 and #2 are not the cause.

  2. 3)Leaking drain faucet at bottom of tank. This is the location where you connect a hose to drain the tank. It might have slow leak, so check the outlet with a finger for wetness.

  3. 4)Leaking around pipe connections to water heater. Check around where each of the pipes connect to the tank: hot, cold, TPR valve, and drain faucet. If it has been leaking for a while, there will be a rust-color drip stain running down from it.

  4. 5)Tank is leaking due to deep corrosion. This is the worst-case scenario and means it is time to replace the water heater. Tanks rust from the inside-out, so there are often no early warning signs; but corrosion around the base of the tank, or a rusty wet stain under it without any drip stains down the side of the tank—like in the photo below, with the red light on the moisture meter indicating that the wood is soaked—are two signs of possible tank leakage.


    Everything but #5 can usually be fixed by a brief plumber visit for $125 to $200. The only exception is when #4 is caused by galvanic corrosion, which is identified by a powdery crust around a pipe at the tank connection that looks like a lumpy, cancerous growth. If it has destroyed the threaded fitting at the tank, the tank my need replacement. See our blog post “What’s that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?” to learn more.


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection

 


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