Water heater question/problem

Okay, it is a two to three year old electric water heater and this evening the relief valve tripped and dumped a limited amount of water. I have no clue as to why it tripped, it never has before. The down pipe from the relief valve is still dripping even thought I have opened and closed the valve several times.
1.) I know that the relief valve is both pressure and temperature sensitive but what is your best guess of why it tripped in the first place? 2.) Is it the nature of these relief valves to not totally re-seat once they have tripped?
It didn't do any damage for three reasons. First, it let out a limited amount of water. Secondly, the down pipe is very close to a floor drain. And finally, we have a water alarm near that floor drain and it went off and we just happened to be home.
Unless most all of you think that something is messed up with the water heater I plan to just replace the relief valve in the morning and let it go at that. Although I never do, I just might shut it off when we leave for warmer weather this winter.
Happy Holidays,
Don
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IGot2P wrote:

Hi, Sounds like the water got over heated. Heating elments are controlled by thermostat. Maybe one is stuck closed.

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It needs to be checked out totally. Check out both thermostats, because I think it has 2. And check both elements for continuity. Crud in the bottom (yes crud can build up within a couple years) can make your lower element not function, therfore allowing the upper to over compensate. Check for crude when you remove the lower element.
Most, if not all, electric water heaters have a 6 year warranty. Call the manufacturer and they will more than likely tell you what to look for and will send you the part if one is needed at no cost. I had a thermstat go out and they sent me the thermo and a new element.
Hank
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Best clue as to whether it was water temp or pressure that tripped it was right there when it tripped. Did you open a faucet and check the water temp? If the water was not noticeably hotter than normal, then it wasn't caused by the water getting too hot. Also, I would suspect that if it opened from being too hot, you'd get a lot more water out than if it opened from pressure. Also, with a stuck thermostat, I would expect the process to immediately repeat itself.
If there was a brief over-pressure in the system, just a small release of a few cups could relieve it. If it's over temp, I would think you'd have many gallons flowing before the temp came down. Is it municipal water or well? What is the pressure?
Also, not unusual for the TPR valve to not close completely on water heaters, but kind of unusual for one only 3 years old. That's one reason many people don't test them once a year, they are afraid that it won't close.
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On 12/22/2010 7:32 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Thanks, that was good info. It has not repeated itself but I may check the temp at the faucet. Again, it was probably a cup of water at the most but it is still dripping thus the valve has not totally closed.
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IGot2P wrote:

It's possible that when the relief valve popped, some bit of debris found itself trapped in the valve, preventing the valve from properly re-closing.
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On 12/21/2010 11:34 PM, IGot2P wrote:

A good practice is to shut the water off ANYtime you leave the house. And if we're leaving for more than 24 hours, i go ahead and shut off the water heaters also. No need keeping water hot for nobody home.
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Steve Barker
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On 12/22/2010 7:47 AM, Steve Barker wrote:

I am sure that it would be a good practice but I am not going to shut the water off once or twice a week just for 24 hours. Although I never have in the past I may shut it off when we are going to gone for over one week (sometimes a month or so).
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On 12/22/2010 8:44 AM, IGot2P wrote:

LMAO! I shut it off once, twice, three times a DAY. I said whenever leaving the house. It's up to you though. When the bottom of that water heater blows out, 5 minutes is a LOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGG time. Think about how much you want to repair. Hmmmm. How are those washer hoses you leave on all the time? How much damage is going to occur when one of them (the hot one) blows up and you're lollygagging around the mall, because it would be stupid to turn the water off for just a 1 hour trip, right?
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On 12/22/2010 9:49 AM, Steve Barker wrote:

I am not saying it would be stupid but I certainly don't think that it is common practice.
BTW - the closest mall is 45 miles away. OTOH, we are out of town almost every weekend
Don
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On Wed, 22 Dec 2010 09:49:34 -0600, Steve Barker

I hope you have a real good shutoff valve - - -
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On 12/22/2010 3:15 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

yep.
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IGot2P wrote:

What is your water source, "city" water? Do you have an expansion tank in the system to account for expansion of water as it heats? City water supplies normally have backflow check valves, so when the water heats the pressure rises if there is no expansion tank.
If the starting water pressure was a little higher than normal, you used a lot of hot water so there was more cold water being heated and thus expanding, a leaking backflow valve was replaced, etc. the pressure could spike above the trip point of the relief valve.
Relief valves tend to be one-shot things, once they trip they rarely reseat properly or they get some crud in them and they tend to drip forever after. Replacing the valve will fix the ongoing drip, but if you don't fix the underlying problem it will just repeat.
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wrote:

We are on municipal water, no backflow valve, no pressure reducer, and no expansion tank (thankfully - city water is supposed to eliminate all the nasty troublesome high-maintenance stuff, isn't it? May as well have a well pump too if you need all that other stuff.
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