Electric water heater leaking out of the top.

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by jeffmattero76, Jul 5, 2018.

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  1. Jul 5, 2018 #1

    jeffmattero76

    jeffmattero76

    jeffmattero76

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    I need some help. I have a 60 gallon electric water heater. Pressure relief valve is located on the top of the unit. It is leaking around the threads of the PRV. I first thought to remove a re-dope the threads of the PRV. I drained some water out of the tank to do that, but I am wondering what would be causing the leak in the first place. I opened the PRV and it seems to be operating normally, and it closed correctly when I let go of the handle. I wanted to test it again, so I re-filled the unit to full, and now it is leaking worse than before, and is also leaking out of the hot nipple connection.

    I am no expert plumber, but do plenty of plumbing in my rental properties. I have never before seen a water heater leak out of the top.

    Can anyone she'd any light on this? Do I need to replace the unit, or do these symptoms point to some other part replacement?
     
  2. Jul 5, 2018 #2

    TomFOhio

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    Jeff, you said it was leaking around the threads of the relief valve, and that happens more that you think. One big mistake is opening
    the relief to flush it out as probably 9 out 10 will leak after doing so. Turn off the electric to the tank and drain down about a bucket
    full of water and then replace the relief valve with new pipe dope and see if that stops the problem. If it still leaks when you turn the
    water back on around the threaded area then most likely it is coming out the top of the water heater someplace and will need replaced.
    Let us know what you find out.
     
  3. Jul 5, 2018 #3

    jeffmattero76

    jeffmattero76

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    Tom - thanks for the reply. That is exactly what I have already done. The problem that has me scratching my head is this... originally, the water was only leaking from the threads of the PRV. I tested the PRV to make sure it wasn't frozen closed, fully prepared to replace it. When it operated as expected, and also re-closed without leaking, I refilled the unit to see if it would still leak. When I did that, not only did it leak around the threads of the PRV, it also leaked around the threads of the hot nipple. I have never seen a water heater leak from the top. My other question is what other explanation could there be other than corrosion on the female threads at the top of the tank? If too much pressure was inside the tank, the PRV should have released water, which it did not do. Any ideas other than corroded threads?
     
  4. Jul 5, 2018 #4

    voletl

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    Time for a new water heater
     
  5. Jul 5, 2018 #5

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

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    On our water heater the metal visible on top is not part of the tank, it is an outer layer which holds the insulation in place around that tank. If I saw water coming out of any of the openings on top it would mean that somewhere up there there was a leak from the tank. On ours most of the water from that type of leak would drain down the sides of the tank through the insulation and land in the pan. Other heater models might seal the top off as a separate compartment, in which case it might have to go up.
     
  6. Jul 5, 2018 #6

    TomFOhio

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    IF its coming out around the relief valve and the hot nipple then the water heater is probably shot. Like voletl said it needs
    replaced.
     
  7. Jul 5, 2018 #7

    jeffmattero76

    jeffmattero76

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    Thanks everyone. Getting a new gas water heater.
     
  8. Jul 6, 2018 #8

    CT18

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    just a heads up for future, PRV is a pressure reducing valve. The T and P is temperature and pressure relief on the water heater. Will make it easier if you are shopping for one and not the other in the future.
     
  9. Jul 6, 2018 #9

    Diehard

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    How old is the water heater?

    This video may interest you.

     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  10. Jul 6, 2018 #10

    jeffmattero76

    jeffmattero76

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    Thanks for the heads up. I always thought they were called "Pressure Relief Valve" which is why I used the PRV abbreviation.
     
  11. Jul 6, 2018 #11

    jeffmattero76

    jeffmattero76

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    Thanks. Good to know how to do that, but my problem was a leak in the inner tank.
     
  12. Jul 7, 2018 #12

    rickwhoo

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    My 16 year old water heater has water leaking out of the top. Just got the new one yesterday and will be installing it soon. I'm very glad it's only a small top leak and not a total failure because it allowed me to order a special one that they don't stock. The new one has a 316L SS inner tank.
     
  13. Jul 13, 2018 #13

    will-b

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    Nice Rick, you got pretty lucky that you got so much notice on a beastly old water heater breaking on you. Could've been a major situation.
     
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