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MLC TPR TWIRL TEST

WATER HEATER EXPLOSIONS - THE MLC TPR TWIRL TEST

Michael LeavittMany people are afraid to test the Temperature Pressure Relief (TPR) valve. The thought of what will happen when the lever is raised scares most, but this lever is designed for homeowner operation, so don’t be too frightened. We recommend that you use the Michael Leavitt & Co TPR “Twirl Test” protocol to safely test TPR valves.

Here is the 10 step Michael Leavitt & Co TPR “Twirl Test” protocol...

  • 1) Ensure the TPR discharge pipe is in place and that when hot water is discharged that you will not be burned from the scalding hot water that comes out during the testing process. TPR
  • 2) Take the TPR handle and attempt to twist, or twirl it around to see if the valve is frozen/seized. It should move. Pretend it is a clock hand and twirl the handle around the clock dial.
  • 3) If the TPR Handle does NOT twirl, then there is no reason to force it. Do not try break it free. This does not mean that the valve is bad... But it does mean that corrosion is most likely present. You can still attempt to raise the lever, but be prepared for a TPR valve that will not seal off after the test. RECOMMENDATION: Either replace the valve or call a plumber for inspection.
  • 4) If it twirls okay, then attempt to raise the TPR testing lever (Careful, hot water should discharge).
  • 5) The lever should raise with only a bit of force. If you are unsure how much is too much, then head to the home center and raise the lever on some brand new TPR valves to see what they feel like when lifted.
  • 6) Water will discharge from a working valve when the lever is raised. If the valve is raised and no water comes out, then turn the gas/power and water off to the unit and replace the obstructed valve.
  • 7) Lower the lever and the water should shut off again.
  • 8) If the valve does not seal shut and water still comes out when closed, then raise the lever again a few times and attempt to flush out the corrosion debris blocking the valve seat seal. NOTE: Failure to seal off the water is a sign of corrosion and whether you get the valve to seal or not, it is time to replace the corroded valve.
  • 9) If the TPR valve worked as designed, then take a permanent marker and write on the water heater near the valve the date of the testing.
  • 10) Repeat this test at least annually and call a plumber (or qualified service person) at least every 3 years to remove and inspect the TPR valve and replace when deemed necessary.

MICHAEL’S THOUGHTS: “If you are going to call upon a plumber for a “once every 3 year inspection” that requires him to visit the home, shut off the power/gas and water to the water heater unit, remove the TPR for inspection and then install the valve again, then why not spring for $10-$20 more and just have him install a brand new TPR valve? The majority of the expense is getting the plumber to the house. Once there, I do not recommend that you be penny foolish and save a few dollars to reinstall the old valve, unless it is pristing clean with no corrosive build-up. If there is any corrosion at all, then just replace the TPR valve with a new unit.”

WHAT DOES A CORRODED TPR LOOK LIKE?
TPR Corroded

Photo Used By Permission - Jared Bishop - BishopArt.com

SPECIAL THANKS: Jared Bishop, from Lindon, Utah shared the above photo after a long running issue with a leaking TPR valve. You can see that newer unit and the older unit. He had pulled out the newer valve to see how it was holding up, as evidenced by the used white Teflon tape.

NOTE: Even though the two valves are different models, the lever operation is the same.

TPR LEAK WARNING

Warning disclaimer from the WATTS website regarding a water heater that just starts to leak from the TPR discharge pipe for no apparent reason...

“If discharge occurs, CALL A PLUMBER IMMEDIATELY. Discharge may indicate that an unsafe temperature or pressure condition exists which requires immediate attention by a qualified service technician or licensed plumbing contractor.”

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Orem, Utah 84057
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