Exactly What is Thermal Expansion?
Thermal expansion is a major plumbing issue. However, many people are not aware of this distinctive issue because a lot of homes are not in jeopardy. While, quite a few properties which might be at risk of acquiring this plumbing problem aren’t adequately protected because code requirements are frequently not enforced appropriately for old properties. Water particles don’t shrink when up against pressure or cold, however they do enlarge when heated up. In fact, water may expand by half a gallon or more in a 40 gallon water heater tank. This expansion might result in serious problems in a home that uses a closed plumbing system. Thermal expansion could result in worn out seals, broken solenoid valves, and bursted pipes. Thermal expansion could also shorten the life expectancy of ones water heater and, if employing a gas or propane fueled water heater, might cause the water heater flue to collapse creating a carbon monoxide leak. It is very important to find out if your home employs a closed plumbing system and, if it does, the precautions to take to safeguard the home from thermal expansion issues.
A property is in danger of thermal expansion troubles when there is a closed plumbing system, as opposed to an open system. In an open plumbing system, water inside pipes will be able to exit into the city water main through a supply line if faucets are not in use. On the other hand, in a closed plumbing system water has no way of leaving the home. Closed systems have either a pressure reducing valve, backflow prevention valve, or a recirculating plump with a check valve. These valves are used to reduce backflow of water. Closed systems are great if the backflow from the house can contaminate the water supply. If your house does employ a closed plumbing system and you have already been taking precautions against thermal expansion problems and your T&P valve is dripping, you could have thermal expansion complications. The temperature and pressure relief valve is situated on the water heater, and is a small handle which opens instantly if the temperature or pressure in the tank is above 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 used on a regular basis. If it leaks, you need to replace it as soon as possible. Though, in the event it continues to leak, it could be indicative of thermal expansion issues.
Safeguarding One’s Home from Thermal Expansion Problems
There are 2 primary solutions to prevent thermal expansion issues. Anytime a closed plumbing system is implemented, a thermal expansion device is required by Uniform Plumbing Code. An expansion tank is the standard choice. An expansion tank connects to the water heater tank and gives water overflow another place to go. There are 2 individual chambers in the expansion tank, one for air and one for water. Air is pumped in the expansion tank to correspond with the pressure of the water. When the water is heated up, if it expands too much, it can overflow into the tank. Once it has cooled off or expanded to its highest potential, the air inside the expansion tank forces the water back in the water supply.
Considering that the air getting pumped in an expansion tank has to match up with the pressure in the water supply, it is crucial that expansion tanks be pressurized correctly. One can find comprehensive manufacturer’s instructions for expansion tanks and it’s extremely important to follow along with the instructions precisely. To examine the pressure of the water, just use a water pressure gauge on the water coming out of any faucet, and one could check the pressure of the tank by applying a tire air gauge. In case the pressure is too low in the expansion tank, water can enter too easily, and when the pressure is too high water is not going to be able to get in easily enough.
Expansion tanks usually have a max pressure of 150 psi and are sized depending on the capacity of the water heater tank together with the incoming water supply pressure. It is very important to be sure you have the correct proportions for both prior to purchasing an expansion tank.
One may examine the expansion tank’s efficiency whenever the water heater isn’t heating water. This is done by simply knocking about the tank using your fist, a coin, a key or some other type of gentle tapping equipment. It ought to sound mainly empty and echo a bit, although in the event that you are observing a shorter noise that resembles more of a thud, the tank may have water in it. Confirm if there is, actually, water in the tank by removing the cap protecting the air valve. This kind of cap is similar to those seen on bicycle tires and automobile tires. Touch down on the pin to find out if air or water comes out. In cases where air comes out, everything is okay, however, if water comes out you might need a different tank. When the rubber separating the air chamber from the water chamber has become weak, water will fill the air chamber, in that case, you will need to exchange the tank. In cases where, when pressing the pin nothing happens, no water or air comes out, the tank might not have sufficient air inside. This will throw off the pressure stability within the tank. In order to take care of this issue, make reference to the manufacturer’s directions and use an air compressor to refill the air chamber.
Expansion tanks have to be maintained annually. Water heaters likewise need to be maintained each year, so it would seem sensible to carry out both servicing duties at the same time.
One more way to safeguard your home from thermal expansion are valves with discharge outlets. These kinds of discharge outlets drain the excess water that the plumbing can’t hold. Toilet fill valves can also be a great precautionary measure. These valves drain water into the toilet tank if the water expands too much.
If perhaps you employ a closed plumbing system and you currently have an expansion tank, that is excellent! Still, don’t forget to have the expansion tank as well as your water heater checked out once a year. Still unsure about what kind of plumbing system is at your home? Find out right away! Regardless if you have integrated safeguards in the property, thermal expansion matters can take place. Give Water Heater Repair Durham NC a call today for more information about keeping your residence protected against thermal expansion challenges.