April 1995 Edition

What Is A T&P Valve?

We recently had our house inspected and the inspector said the water heater T&P valve had improper piping. The pipe went up instead of down. What is a T&P valve and why is there a problem with the pipe?
A T&P valve is a temperature and pressure relief valve that is connected to your water heater as a secondary safety feature. If the internal thermostat becomes defective, the water can heat to temperatures far exceeding the normal boiling point of 212 degrees and the pressure within the tank will increase which will result in the tank exploding. A 30 gallon water heater will explode with the same force of 1 pound of dynamite which will destroy most of the house.
The T&P valve is installed on the outside of the water heater so that it can be physically tested to insure that it is  working properly. Test the valve  by pulling up on the test lever on the end of the valve and see if water runs out the pipe. You can normally hear the water running. If the valve is stuck, then it is defective and it should be replaced  immediately.


The pipe connected to the valve is called the discharge piping. This pipe directs the water to a floor drain or to the exterior of the house where no one will be injured by the hot water, if the valve opens. This discharge pipe must be the same size as the valve, usually 3/4”, be pitched down for a natural drain or if the piping runs upward towards the ceiling, it must have a way to drain the water out of the line after testing. The pipe must not have any obstruction such as water in the pipe. Be sure to test the valve once a year.

Sealing A Cedar Deck

We recently built a new cedar deck and are getting conflicting advice on whether or not to seal the wood.           
This is a question I am asked a lot when I go on inspections. According to Bruce Johnson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Research Laboratory, while cedar is naturally decay-resistant, it will eventually rot like any other wood. Treating your cedar deck will greatly prolong its life, provided you do it correctly. Bruce suggest the following:           
Use a waterproof wood preservative that has a fungicide and mildewcide. Check the label.           
Treating the deck only once is a waste of money. You will need to reapply the preservative from time to time - every one to two years in most areas of the country. It’s time to reapply the preservative when your deck begins to look dry and rainwater just soaks into the wood instead of beading on the surface.           
Cedar will weather to a silvery gray color. If you want this color, wait until the wood has weathered and apply a clear preservative. If you want a color other than silver gray, use a tinted wood stain before applying the preservative. Unfortunately, no one has come up with a way to keep cedar looking like it just came from the mill. All preservatives, even the clear ones, will darken the wood when they’re applied.            
How do you apply the preservatives (brush, roll, or spray) is a matter of personal preference. I find it is easiest to apply the preservative with a standard garden sprayer. But you need to treat the entire surface of the wood, top, sides and bottom. Apply just enough preservative to soak the wood. The preservative shouldn’t run down or puddle on the surface.      
Also, don’t forget that the ends of the boards (the end grain) need to be treated. This is where most of the moisture enters the wood. 

It's That Time Of Year Again...

The spring represents the time of year again for certain maintenance to be performed on your home. One of the most common problems is the chimney. First, start on top of the roof and look at the chimney cap. Make sure there is no deterioration of the cap and that the area is water tight. Look at the wood or brick on the chimney for loose brick, missing mortar or decaying wood. Next, remove the flue cap and look down the flue. Make sure there are no restrictions such as bird or squirrel nests present. If the flue pipe is dirty, now is the time to have the pipe cleaned. It is recommended that a chimney be cleaned every two years or after each cord of wood burned.
While you are up on the roof, check for loose or missing shingles and any area that could result in a roof leak. If the nails or staples are pulling out, now is the time to drive them back in and seal them. Check all of the area that have been repaired with roofing cement. The cement will dry out during the year and could crack resulting in an opening for rain to leak in. Check around all pipe and vent flashing. Also, check all skylights by looking for water stains just on the inside of the glass.          
This is probably not your favorite chore, but, clean out those gutters. The leaves and pine straw will clog the gutters causing them to overflow and possibly cause a water problem in the basement or crawl space. After they are clean, take a garden hose and run water down the down spouts making sure they are also clean. Cut all tree limbs away from the roof and walls. If left untrimmed, they will rub holes in roof shingles and wood siding.            
Next, check the siding and all of the wood trim. Look for exposed areas of the wood where the paint is thinning or peeling and where any caulking is cracked or missing. The wood must remain water tight to prevent decay and deterioration. Check the glazing putty around the window panes. If they need painting, do it now. Don't wait until the end of summer or you may have a larger repair bill.            
After finishing the roof and exterior walls, you will be back on friendly territory, the ground. Go around the foundation wall looking for any large cracks that water might pass through. Seal these with caulk or foam sealers. Open all of your foundation vents for the summer.            
Now that you are finished with the outside, go inside and grab a cold glass of tea or lemonade. There are only a few things to do inside before you’re finished. Go to the electrical panel box and trip all circuit beaker every six months to insure they are not frozen. Next, test all of the ground fault circuit interrupters (if you have them). These are suppose to be tested monthly. If you have G.F.C.I. electrical outlets, go around to all of these and test also. Check all of your fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. Change or clean your furnace filter and if you have one, clean your humidifier as well. The last thing on the list is to test the water heater temperature and pressure relief valve by pulling up on the test lever and allowing water to pass through the valve. If the valve is frozen, leaks or won't reseat, replace it immediately. Now that you are finish, sit down, relax and have another glass of iced tea. You are finished inspecting until next fall. 

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Quote of the Month

“Sometimes it is not what we say, but how we say it that is important”

- Unknown

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Gene Wood

Northside Realty

Atlanta, Georgia

**** Thank You****