Can Hot Water Systems Explode?Cat McCarthy
The Danger Lurking in Faulty PTR Valves: A Guide to Hot Water System Maintenance
My two kids were watching MythBusters last night after dinner. When I got back from having my shower, my husband’s face was like a stunned mullet looking at the screen. ‘You should’ve seen that! A hot water system shot up like a rocket!’. His actual description was a little expletive-laden, given his shock at how easily they got them to explode.
The MythBusters team were attempting to bust the myth A water heater can explode like a rocket and shoot up. They were able to confirm the myth to be fact after they blocked off the Pressure and Temperature Reducing (PTR) Valve.
Mythbusters Hot Water System Explosion
What is a Pressure and Temperature Reducing Valve (PTR Valve)?
The PTR valve is a vital safety device installed on hot water systems. Its primary function is to regulate and relieve excess pressure and temperature build-up within the system. Without a properly functioning PTR valve, a hot water system can potentially turn into a rocket, leading to catastrophic consequences.
The Dangers of Faulty PTR Valves
When a PTR valve malfunctions, it poses serious risks, including:
– Increased Pressure: If the pressure within the hot water system surpasses safe limits, it can cause explosions, ruptures, or severe damage to the tank or surrounding plumbing.
– Elevated Temperatures: Excessive temperatures can lead to scalding or burns, endangering occupants and damaging property.
– Water Damage: In case of a catastrophic failure, water damage from a burst hot water system can be extensive and expensive to repair.
Is it Important to Service Your Hot Water System?
To mitigate the risks associated with faulty PTR valves, regular maintenance of hot water systems is essential, here are some reasons why we encourage you to keep your hot water system regularly serviced:
- Ensuring Valve Functionality: During routine service, our qualified plumber can inspect and test the PTR valve to ensure it is working correctly and within safe parameters.
– Extending Lifespan: Regular maintenance can identify minor issues before they escalate, increasing the lifespan of your hot water system and saving you money on premature replacements.
– Energy Efficiency: Properly maintained hot water systems operate more efficiently, resulting in reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills.
What are the Signs of a Faulty PTR Valve?
While regular maintenance is crucial, it’s also essential to be aware of signs that may indicate a malfunctioning PTR valve. Look out for –
- Constant Dripping: If you notice water continuously dripping from the PTR valve’s discharge pipe, it could indicate high pressure or a faulty valve.
- Water Discharge during Heating: If the PTR valve discharges water when the hot water system is actively heating, that’s ok. If it continuously leaks it could be a sign of a malfunction.
- Rust or Corrosion: Excessive rust or corrosion around the PTR valve or its discharge pipe may indicate a potential issue.
What does a Functioning PTR Valve Look Like?
Understanding what is considered normal operation can help you identify irregularities. Here is what a healthy PTR Valve looks like –
- Occasional Discharge: It’s normal for the PTR valve to discharge a small amount of water during regular operation, but only occasionally.
- Proper Discharge Pipe Installation: The PTR valve’s discharge pipe should be correctly installed, terminating in a safe location where any discharged water will not cause harm or damage. Installation must comply to the Australian Standards (AS 3500).
- Noises: It’s normal to hear a slight hissing or pressure release sound when the PTR valve is operating correctly.
5 Hot Water System Maintenance Recommendations
To ensure the proper functioning and safety of your hot water system, McCarthy Plumbing Group recommend following these maintenance guidelines:
- Every six months: Carefully operate the expansion control valve and temperature pressure relief valve to prevent sediment build-up.
- Every 12 months: Check the water temperature from the nearest tap to verify proper functionality of the temperature controls.
- Every five years: Contact McCarthy Plumbing Group to replace valves controlling expansion, temperature, and pressure.
- Approximately every five to 10 years: Have our plumbers replace the sacrificial anode to reduce corrosion.
- When on holiday: After returning, run a hot tap to clear any hydrogen build-up before using electrical appliances linked to the hot water system.
Faulty PTR valves in hot water systems pose significant risks to safety and property. Regular hot water service maintenance, including inspection and testing of the PTR valve, is crucial for preventing disasters. McCarthy Plumbing Group is committed to ensuring the safety and satisfaction of our customers by providing comprehensive maintenance services that help protect against the dangers of faulty PTR valves. Contact us today to schedule a hot water system service and ensure your hot water system operates smoothly and safely.