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Thread: TPR Valve Test

  1. #1
    Richard Franklin's Avatar
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    Default TPR Valve Test

    As a rule do you test the TPR valve during an inspection? I recently tested a TPR valve during an inspection because I noted corrosion on the intake valve. The valve would not shut off. The water heater had been changed with the last couple of years, however the TPR valve had never been changed along with a galvanized nipple between the TPR and copper drain line. I noted it and recommend changing. The Real Estate Agent representing the seller called me today and said that he checked with a number of home inspectors and that they never test TPR valves? Therefore he felt that I should replace the TPR? Thoughts on this.

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  2. #2
    Lee Nettnin's Avatar
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    Smile Re: TPR Valve Test

    Hi Richard,
    I never, never test the TPR valve, for that exact reason. The TPR valve will not close because deposits will get under the seat and not allow it to close completely. That said the TPR valve should always be changed when the water heater is changed, however, last guy in gets the blame. If it were me I would spend the $10 to keep everyone happy.

    Last edited by Lee Nettnin; 04-29-2008 at 04:03 PM. Reason: spelling

  3. #3
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    I always tested them ... "always" needs defining:

    "always" - If the valve feels stuck in any way, DO NOT test it, however, if the handle lifts under moderate or limited pressure, the valve is not 'stuck' and can be safely tested.

    Now the big question: "How" do you know what a good valve feels like and how do you know when to not test it?

    Go by the Big Box stores and check out their water heaters, lift the levers on the T&P valves, get a 'feel' of the pressure and of the valves 'releasing', after getting 'the feel of it' try some in the field, if the valve does not open like the new ones did, it is likely 'stuck', if the valves does not feel 'stuck', it should not give you a problem.

    I tested thousands and thousands of T&P valves and never had a problem.

    *I* feel it is IMPERATIVE that HIs test those valves! *IF THE VALVE FEELS STUCK* - don't test it ... which raises the question, how do you write it up if you don't test it (for the reasons given above)?

    I wrote them up like this:

    T&P safety relief valves are safety features and are required to be tested regularly but seldom are, this allows the valves to become 'stuck'. All safety devices are required to operate THE FIRST TIME, EVERY TIME, and any valve which is 'stuck' needs to be replaced. If a plumber comes in and operates the valve and 'unsticks it', the valve STILL NEEDS TO BE REPLACED as it was required to operate THE FIRST TIME, EVERY TIME, not just be able to operate after someone played around with it 'freeing it up'.

    REPLACE T&P VALVE.

    At this point, I would remind them that the valve is a *safety device* and it was required to work *the first time, every time* and it did not. Thus, regardless of whether any other HI tests T&P valves or not, *THAT* particular T&P safety relief valve was required to work *the first time, every time* and *it did not*.

    If you wanted to spring for the valve, that is up to you, *I* *would not*, *I* would advise them of what I said above. *I* would not let the slackness of other HIs dictate what *I* was inspecting and why, and *I* would tell my client that *it was supposed to work the first time, every time* and it did not - thus it is a repair item on the report.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
    Lee Nettnin's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Jerry,
    I agree with you that the valves should be tested, thinking a little about this I realized it probably depends on the type of water in your area. We have very, very hard water and if I tested them I would have about a 50-50 chance of a failure.
    Lee


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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Nettnin View Post
    if I tested them I would have about a 50-50 chance of a failure.
    Lee,

    Define "failure".

    If you mean 'that one feels like it is stuck', okay, write it up for replacement.

    If you mean 'I tested it and it now leaks', that probably means you did not 'feel' the valve first to determine if you should lift the lever, otherwise you would most likely have not tried to test it, you would have just written it up for replacement.

    If you very, very hard water condition, I would suspect that you would be writing 50% up for replacement (based on your 50/50 statement). Nothing wrong with writing that many up if they need it (i.e., 'don't work *first time, every time*).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    I test them all the time and never paid for one that wouldn't close down.

    As to the real estate agent's comment; do you really think a real estate agent would know an inspector who tested tprv's?

    Captain


  7. #7
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Texas HIs are required to test T&P Valves as part of our SOP. Jerry's guidelines for "getting a feel" for the valve is key.

    Also ... check out the manufacturer's guidelines for the T&P Valves. Two major manufacturers are Watts and Cash Acme. Both companies want their valves tested annually by the homeowner and Watts wants their valves tested by a licensed plumber every three years and reviewed for possible replacement.

    Watts is adding more CYA to their guidelines.

    That being said ... I recommend that any W/H that is older than 3-years have the T&P valve reviewed for possible replacement.

    As long as I can see the T&P drain line termination point I will test them ... after the 'twirl' test as noted by ECJerry.

    I've dug in my heels on those valves over the past several years. They are not something to be fooled with and let 'slip by'.

    Check out the Mythbusters video about exploding W/H's. It is not pretty.


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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    I also test them and have found several that would not open or once open would not close completely. I have also found that if you have one that will not seal back completely that if you open it a few more times and let it wash out the valve that it will usually seal with no drips.

    Before I test one I twirl the little handle to see if it will move. If it does not move, I know that the valve is frozen and I will not test it. If it twirls, I will then start to open it and if it feels OK I will open it up for a second and then make sure it seals before I move on. If it does not seal, I make sure that the water is draining out, I finish my inspection of the home and then I come back to see if I can get it to seal. If I can't, I turn the water heater off and cut the water off at the water heater. I leave a note for the owner explaining that they the valve was leaking and would not reseal, and I try and call the listing agent so they will know as well.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  9. #9
    Richard Franklin's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Thanks for the replys. I would especially respect JP's opinion.
    The particular water heater was fairly new. I suspect it was probably sold thru one of the big box stores. They hire someone with a license who does it for piece work and cuts all the corners in the world. If you have dissimilar metals being used, no one is around to check. The Big Box stores certainly don't send someone out to supervise to see if it was done correctly. In Nevada we have a pretty good construction defects law that covers remodels, etc., this includes a new water heater. Under the law the contractor can be held responsible up to 8 years for a defect. The list of defects in pretty inclusive, including code violations, standards, utility, etc. This does not count if someone gets their cousin Joe to install a water heater. Only a licensed contractor.


  10. #10
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    I myself always test them. Ever see the mythbusters episode with the exploding water heater?
    If it drips, I usually "pop" it a few times, that usually clears any crud from the seat. If it still doesn't seal, it gets listed as " failed under test"


  11. #11
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    For those who test them, do you carry a bucket to recieve the water or do you just let it get the garage all wet? How about those in the attic that are in a drip pan over the master bedroom ceiling?

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    For those who test them, do you carry a bucket to recieve the water or do you just let it get the garage all wet?
    I just get the garage floor all wet (sometimes it leaks inside too), and show my client why dumping that discharge there is a BAD IDEA.

    Carry a bucket ... next thing you will say 'and a towel to dry it up with' ... hmmmmmmm ... Hey, Aaron, sounding a bit like A. O. Smith here?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Richard,

    You noted corrosion present, correct?

    I would NOT have tested the TPRV and noted in the report what I observed and what I DID NOT DO so while the plumber is there to repair/replace corroded components s/he could test and evaluate TPRV for proper function or replacement.

    I've yet to buy one, they either function or fail under testing by me or the plumber.

    I will lightly tap to reseat as best as possible, notify both agents involved and leave a note on the kitchen counter for the homeowner, my job's done and I don't pay for replacement parts or failing equipment, except at my house.

    JP,
    Wet-dry vac is a quicker-picker-upper

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Barry,

    Those wet vacs are great, its just I never have one when I need one. Quess thats why I own several of them.

    rick


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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    OK, I have a different viewpoint, (for valves not plumbed to the exterior, and for areas outside of Texas).

    It's amazing that so called "Professionals" would willfully and deliberately cause damage to someone's house with no regard to the consequences.

    As educated Home Inspectors, we certainly know that there is a good possibility that many TPR valves will not close properly, and leak.

    Knowing this fact, I would expect the responsible thing to do would be to get the homeowner's permission to operate a device that may fail and cause damage to their basement, garage, attic, closet, etc.

    Why? Because you knew it may happen, and this isn't the first time you have heard of a TPR valve sticking or not closing completely after the lever is operated.

    As a consumer, not an inspector, if you came into my home and opened a valve that you knew could leak and would require immediate repairs, I would make you pay to fix it and all the water damage as well.

    Didn't you, the Professional in your field, know that the valve may not seal? A quick search online would reveal that you and most others did, in fact, know this to be true and you went ahead and did it anyway... Without asking, and with no plan to repair the damage that you caused.

    "Failed under testing" isn't a shield to protect you against this type of action.

    Dom.


  16. #16
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Dom,

    At least 1/3%rd of the time, while I'm at the property, I have interaction with the seller. The one question that I ask *EVERY TIME* is:

    "Is there anything I should not open, operate or turn-on... and do I have your permission to operate everything under normal conditions?"

    Once I have permission, I go about my business. Now, the one case that I do not activate the TPR valve is when the water heater is either in the attic or inside the home. If in the garage, I will activate it 100% of the tilme.

    I feel the key is to divulge (in the report) that you did or did not open the TPR valve. For us (Tx. inspectors) it is key that when we do not activate the TPR valve that we disclose that we did not and why-- my reason is always, "The possibility of causing damage to the structure in the event there is a leak or defective valve".

    No matter what, I always look at meeting the seller as an opportunity to:
    1) Get their approval to turn on and operate everything (they said it was ok-- so by golly, not my fault).
    2) Make the introduction so they know who is in their home and give them a card-- often, after reading my report, they may call me to do their next home inspection.

    Rich


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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Barry,

    Those wet vacs are great, its just I never have one when I need one. Quess thats why I own several of them.

    rick
    When is the next garage sale at your place?

    Try this:
    Walmart.com : 1-Gallon Shop-Vac Hang Up Mini Wet/Dry Vac : Appliances

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Rushing View Post
    Dom,

    At least 1/3%rd of the time, while I'm at the property, I have interaction with the seller. The one question that I ask *EVERY TIME* is:

    "Is there anything I should not open, operate or turn-on... and do I have your permission to operate everything under normal conditions?"

    That's great, I try to have the same dialogue as well.

    However, most homeowners have no idea that the TPR valve should be "Operated" regularly, so permission to "turn things on" takes on a different meaning to them. They are thinking: light switches, fans, appliances, central vacuum, etc. And "Normal conditions" for a TPR valve would be a valve that has been tested regularly since it's installation, not a valve tested once every 10 years.

    I know you Texas guys have to do specific things, so more power to you in that regard.

    Just my opinion...

    Dom.


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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Barry,

    Actually had a garage sale this past weekend. I had to hide those vacs up in the attic to keep my better half from selling them.

    She cleared out everything that hasn't been used in the last couple of years.

    Except for me.

    rick


  20. #20
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    She hasn't used you in over two years.

    Poor guy!

    Might just as well get sold to one of them station wagons full of red neck wimmen!

    Small wet dry vac and a small dirt devel are standard "just in case" stuff for me to carry. I like to "have it" when I need it, not "want it" when I need it.

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Erby,

    Send one maybe two of those station wagons to the house. I'll be waiting on the front porch.

    LOL

    rick


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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kelly View Post
    I think opening the TPR valve is asking for trouble. There is little point anyway, you aren't "testing" the safety or function the valve by opening it, all you are doing is opening it. I do move the stem around, if it is stuck, I recommend replacement. Opening it wouldn't really tell me anything additional.
    Fritz,

    Opening it does tell you something.

    "I do move the stem around, if it is stuck, I recommend replacement.", that is good, however, if the stem moves around, it 'does not' mean the valve 'is not' stuck.

    Only "opening it" will tell you that. And THAT is "testing" its ability to open, which is what it is required to do.

    No, you are not "testing" at what pressure it opens, nor at what temperature it opens, but you are "testing" the fact that it opens.

    Do you take super heat temperatures and use wet and dry bulb thermometers on a/c units? If not, and if you were to apply your standards for not testing T&P valves, there would not be any need to "test" the a/c system, because nothing a home inspector does is "actually testing" it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    WARNING: Following installation, The valve lever MUST
    be operated AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR by the hot water
    tank owner to ensure that the water-ways are clear.


    Certain naturally occurring mineral deposits may adhere to the
    valve, rendering it inoperative. When manually operating the
    lever, water will discharge and precautions must be taken to
    avoid contact with hot water and to avoid water damage.
    BEFORE operating lever, check to see that a discharge line is
    connected to this valve directing the flow of hot water from the
    valve to a proper place of disposal otherwise personal injury
    may result. If no water flows, valve is inoperative. TURN OFF
    THE WATER HEATER AND CALL A PLUMBER IMMEDIATELY.
    From the Watts site, it is an "operating lever".
    "If no water flows, valve is inoperative" sounds like a test to me.


    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  24. #24
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kelly View Post
    So Jim, what you are saying is that if you press the lever and water flows out of the valve, it will properly release if there is excess temperature or excess pressure?
    That's not what Jim stated.

    Or are you just testing that it is not stuck, the same thing you could do by turning the valve stem.

    That's not what Jim stated either, and the only way to make sure the valve is not stuck is to lift it, not spin the handle.

    What Jim stated (if I may answer) is that the information stated that, when the valve is operated (opened) and *NO* water comes out, that the valve is defective and needs to be replaced.

    Now, the application of that which Jim referred to was: when you operate (open) the valve and water does come out, the valve passed *THAT* test.

    Jim will, or course, correct me if I mis-stated what he said.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kelly View Post
    If you feel it is a test that is worth occasionally having to replace a valve, go for it. I don't see the worth.
    Fritz,

    Why would the HI "occasionally having to replace a valve"?

    Either the valve operates and open, then closes, or, it does not do both. EITHER of those which it does not do - the valve needs to be replaced, and not by the HI, by a plumber.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

  26. #26
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    I would bet that I have found at least 50 defective TPR valves over the years that would not open/ close.

    A condition where the TPR will not close does not nearly have the same ramifications as one that will not open, either way... the fact that one can and will cause loss-of-use by not having enough hot water and cause ponding adjacent to the foundation (bad business in clay soil environments) and the other (won't open) can cause the freakin home to be remodeled are both conditions that the homeowner needs to repair-- NOT THE INSPECTOR WHO FOUND THE DEFECT

    Why in the world would an inspector be liable for replacing an item when s/he finds a defect?

    Do you replace the roof when you find an issue with it also? Of course not.

    Have the realtors (selling agent) called me to ask me to replace it-- Sure. I just tell them it's something that was already defective and now the symptoms are such that the buyer knows the issue and will require repais to be made. The agent usually will say something like, "Well water wasn't coming out of there before!"

    I always tell him/her-- "Yeah, that's because the seller never performed the maintenance they were suppose to by opening the valve on a regularly scheduled basis". Problem goes away.

    Rich


  27. #27
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Fritz,

    Yea, but my count did not include those that simply did or did-not spin around at the valve stem.

    If they don't spin around-- that doesen't make them defective. I've seen many defective valves were I was able to spin the valve stem around.

    Rich


  28. #28
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    The valve stem is swaged onto a disk with a seal with a spring behind it to close to valve, therefore, the stem will turn freely, but the seal is not moving and may or may not be stuck. Spinning the handle only tells you the handle spins...it does not verify the stem will actually move in and out thereby allowing the valve to open. Since the ultimate function of the valve is to release water/pressure, that is what you are testing. Whether the pressure/tempurature function works or not is moot if the valve fails to open.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    For those on the "dark side" I tested a water heater's PTRV only once during my career as an HI and never again, and never will.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  30. #30
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Attached are guidelines from WATTS (one of the manufacturers of T&P Valves). Manufacturer's guidelines "trump" code and SOP. It is wise to be aware. The other manufacturer is Cash-Acme and they also recommend "annual" testing, but they stop short of the 3-year visit by a licensed plumber.

    Attached Files Attached Files

  31. #31
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    Default Re: TPR Valve Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kelly View Post
    From Rex Cauldwell (bold is mine):


    In theory, the T&P valve should be tested every couple of years by raising the lever to see if water sprays out. (If it doesn't, it's time to replace the valve.) But this test is controversial because as the water comes out, a flake of iron or other material may jam in the valve, causing it to drip after the lever is released. In other words, you could ruin a good valve by testing it. Still, the valve does need to be tested. What's the solution? Be prepared: when you test the valve, make sure you have a new one in hand, Teflon tape on its threads, and a pipe wrench close by.

    Sorry to have to break this to you, but Rex is wrong when he says "you could ruin a good valve by testing it" ...

    You cannot ruin a *GOOD* valve by testing it. If the valve does not work before, during or after being tested, the valve *WAS NOT* "good".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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