Water Heater Hissing…

The Tank Water Heater Hissing…

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  • #6044
    Bluescale
    Participant

    First of all, let me thank you for running such a great site. For a person like me who knows NOTHING about plumbing, there is a wealth of information.

    A little while back, the pressure release valve on the top of our electric water heater engaged and released a bunch of water. Initially I had no idea what was going on, aside from copious amounts of water bubbling up from a small opening in the concrete. After looking through the manual, I realized that the pressure valve was up. I flipped the release valve back down, and everything was fine. We kept an eye on the water heater for the next few days, but there were no further issues, so we didn’t call the plumber.

    A few weeks later, I noticed there was a slight hissing noise coming from the water heater. Over the next few weeks, the noise has increased a bit. If I push down on the pressure release valve where it connects to the water heater (i.e., not flip it up or down, but just add a little pressure on it), the hissing noise stops, or at least becomes very quiet. If I open the valve, the noise stops for about a second, and then starts back up again.

    Does this sound like a defective valve, or is there a serious problem with the unit? If it’s just the valve, will the plumber charge me an arm and a leg to repair it, or is it something he or she can do fairly inexpensively?

    Thanks so much for any advice you have.

    #6045
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: Relief valves react to temperature and pressure. If either one is too high, the valve opens. Any valve that has opened too often will not reliably shut off any more. So, if the water is quite hot, that’s an indication. If the pressure is high, (need a meter to find out) there is a problem. If there is nowhere for water to expand to as it is heated, that’s another problem. Relief valves are inexpensive as are gauges. If you’re otherwise handy, you might want to try replacing the valve. If the thought of it gives you the willies, whatever the plumber wants is money well spent ;). Do have a look under tanklets for more info.

    Yours, Larry

    #6050
    Bluescale
    Participant

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the reply. I replaced the temperature and pressure relief valve this afternoon. Everything seemed fine at first, but when we ran the washing machine, at the end of the first cycle (right after it filled up with water), the release valve made a strage sound. I think it’s opening slightly. Every time the washing machine fills up with water, the same thing happens. No one has taken a shower since doing this, but my guess is it will react the same way.

    The thermometer on water heater is set to 120, so I wouldn’t think the problem is temperature. My guess for the reading that I’ve done is the issue is water pressure. What’s the best way to test this? And if water pressure is the issue, what would you recommend I do to address it? Is it something I should call a professional for?

    Again, thanks for the help.

    #6053
    Larry Weingarten
    Participant

    Hello: It does sound like pressure. To be sure I’d want to check it with a gauge. Good pressure should be 50 to 60 psi. High pressure is 80 psi. Anything over that needs a pressure reducer. Have a look on the water main serving your house and see if there is a reducer already there. If so, finding one the same size and screwing it into place is what’s needed. Even this requires plumbing skills, particularly if any plastic pipe is involved… If you don’t see a reducer, just get a 0 to 160 or 200 psi gauge that has a hose adaptor on it and put it on a hose bibb to find out pressure with no water being used. I imagine that static pressure is just shy of 150 psi. When a faucet is closed, a bit of water hammer is generated, raising the pressure momentarily and opening the valve.

    If you know someone with the needed skills, be their gofer in installing a new reducer. That way you get both a new reducer installed and a good lesson in plumbing 😉

    Yours, Larry

    ps. Check “Tanklets” for info on expansion tanks. You may need it.

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