Water won't stop running…

The Tank Water won't stop running…

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    Tonight we noticed that we could hear water running from our electric hot water tank. We waited a while to make sure it wasn’t just refilling (as I had just had a shower), but it didn’t stop.

    Eventually, I cut the water off to it. Prior to that, I had my wife go out and check the pipe that the pressure relief valve leads to. It was running “like a faucet.”

    This happened once before and my dad had me tap on the pressure relief valve (gently, the pointy part, not the handle), and that solved the problem. However, that didn’t work tonight.

    Any suggestions on what might be wrong? If the water to the tank is turned on, it runs continuously…



    Randy Schuyler

    T&P valves do fail with time. Replacing them involves disconnecting the drain line, shutting off the water and unscrewing the valve. That should be all that’s necessary here. If the problem still occurs with the new valve, check back.

    Randy Schuyler


    All right, I have the new valve–however, it looks like whoever installed the last one used cement to seal the threads, and then soldered the connector at the bottom, so I can’t unscrew it from the drain pipe.

    I have done some soldering before, but it was at least ten years ago. Am I in plumber territory at this point? Or is getting it loose simple enough to do that I could manage it?



    Randy Schuyler

    Only you can determine if you’re in plumber territory, but I can offer a couple of suggestions. For loosening the valve, add a cheater bar to the wrench: a length of anything such as plastic or metal pipe that you can put onto the handle of the wrench to make it longer and give you more leverage.

    For the drain line, there are two things you can do short of soldering. One is simply get a copper coupling the same diameter as the piping, push the two ends of the cut pipe into it and tape them to keep them from coming apart. This would never do on most plumbing, but this is a line that won’t be carrying water most of the time and never under constant pressure.

    If you want to be a bit more kosher, use a compression fitting.

    Randy Schuyler


    The valve is fixed; however, now the water smells slightly odd (I’m not sure how to describe it), and it is *very* hot.

    It’s quite difficult to get the water to be anywhere between very hot or plain old cold.

    Do you think my thermostat is bad (causing the T&P valve to open to begin with?).



    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: It’s good you managed replacement of the relief valve :D. And, yes, overheating is a cause of relief valves running. That overheating is likely caused by a thermostat that is not working correctly… probably the lower one. Have a look to see if it is or has been wet. Also, go to “Tanklets” for more discussion on electric heaters and remember, you’ve got 240 volts there!

    Yours, Larry

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