What is Thermal Expansion?
Thermal expansion is a serious plumbing problem. However, many people are not informed of this unique concern because many homes aren’t in danger. However, countless residences which might be at risk of developing this plumbing issue aren’t adequately protected mainly because code standards are often not enforced adequately for old homes. Water particles will not shrink when up against pressure or cold, but they do expand when faced with heat. In fact, water will be able to expand by half a gallon or over in a 40 gallon water heater tank. This expansion might produce major concerns in a property which utilizes a closed plumbing system. Thermal expansion can bring about worn out seals, broken solenoid valves, and ruptured pipes. Thermal expansion will also shorten the life span of ones water heater and, if making use of a gas or propane fueled water heater, may cause the water heater flue to collapse creating a carbon monoxide leak. It is very important to know whether or not your residence utilizes a closed plumbing system and, if it does, the precautions to take to safeguard the home from thermal expansion issues.
A property is vulnerable to thermal expansion issues when there is a closed plumbing system, rather than an open system. In an open plumbing system, water in pipes might exit into the city water main with a supply line if fittings are not in use. But, in a closed plumbing system water has no chance of leaving the property. Closed systems have one of either a pressure decreasing valve, backflow prevention valve, or a recirculating plump with a check valve. These valves are employed to reduce backflow of water. Closed systems are great if the backflow from the home could contaminate the water supply. If your residence does use a closed plumbing system and you have already been taking precautions against thermal expansion issues and your T&P valve is leaking, you might have thermal expansion troubles. The temperature and pressure relief valve is located on the water heater, and is a small lever that opens automatically if the temperature or pressure inside the tank is higher than a fixed setting. The typical setting is 150 psi or 210 degrees fahrenheit. The T&P valve is an emergency valve and isn’t designed to be utilized routinely. If it leaks, you should exchange it promptly. Although, if it continues to leak, it could be an indication of thermal expansion issues.
Safeguarding One’s Home from Thermal Expansion Problems
There are 2 primary solutions to protect against thermal expansion complications. Anytime a closed plumbing system is put in place, a thermal expansion device is required by Uniform Plumbing Code. An expansion tank is the normal method. An expansion tank attaches to the water heater tank and gives water overflow another area to go. There are two separate chambers in the expansion tank, one for air and one for water. Air is pumped in the expansion tank to match the pressure of the water. When the water is heated up, if it expands too much, it is able to overflow in the tank. As soon as it has cooled off or expanded to its maximum, the air inside the expansion tank forces the water into the water supply.
Since the air getting pumped into an expansion tank has to match up with the pressure in the water supply, it’s crucial that expansion tanks be pressurized accurately. One can find comprehensive manufacturer’s instructions for expansion tanks and it’s really critical to go by the instructions precisely. To test the pressure of the water, just use a water pressure gauge on the water coming out of any faucet, and one could test the pressure of the tank by using a tire air gauge. In case the pressure is too low in the expansion tank, water will get in too easily, and when the pressure is too high water is not going to be able to get in easily enough.
Expansion tanks typically have a max pressure of 150 psi and are sized depending on the capacity of the water heater tank as well as the inbound water supply pressure. It will be essential to ensure that you have the accurate measurements for both prior to buying an expansion tank.
One can examine the expansion tank’s efficiency anytime the water heater isn’t heating up water. This is accomplished by merely tapping about the tank with your fist, a coin, a key or any other type of light-weight tapping device. It ought to sound mostly hollow and echo somewhat, but if you are observing a shorter tone which resembles a kind of thud, the tank could have water in it. Determine if there is, in fact, water inside the tank by taking off the cap protecting the air valve. This cap is similar to the ones located on bicycle tires and auto tires. Touch down on the pin to determine if air or water comes out. In cases where air comes out, everything is alright, however, if water comes out you could need a different tank. If the rubber separating the air chamber from the water chamber has been damaged, water may fill up the air chamber, in which case, you are going to need to replace the tank. In the event, while pushing down the pin nothing happens, no water or air comes out, the tank may not have enough air inside it. This can throw off the pressure equilibrium inside the tank. In an effort to solve this issue, turn to the manufacturer’s instructions and utilize an air compressor to refill the air chamber.
Expansion tanks must be serviced each year. Water heaters also have to be serviced every year, therefore it would make sense to perform both maintenance tasks simultaneously.
Another way to protect your residence from thermal expansion are valves with discharge outlets. These kinds of discharge outlets drain the excess water that the plumbing is unable to store. Toilet fill valves may also be a good precautionary measure. These valves drain water into the toilet tank in case the water expands too much.
If perhaps you employ a closed plumbing system and you presently have an expansion tank, that is wonderful! Still, don’t forget to have the expansion tank as well as your water heater inspected annually. Still unclear about what kind of plumbing system is at your property? Find out right away! Regardless if you have put in place safeguards in the home, thermal expansion problems can take place. Give Water Heater Repair Lubbock TX a call today to find out more about keeping your house guarded against thermal expansion troubles.