MYSTERY PART - and it's LEAKING - please tell me what this is

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by amateur_plumber, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Take a look at the picture below. The leaking/dripping part is the thing that juts out from the main pipe.

    So help me out ....... what is this? Some kind of pressure release or something? Appears to be a brass fitting.

    Is this an easy replace? Screw off old, screw on new?

    Another issue -- I don't have a shutoff valve prior to this piece. The main shutoff for the house is located downstream - it's up past the top of the photo after the water gets past the pressure tank.

    Also downstream from this point there is a drain valve that I can connect to a hose. Do I basically have to kill the electricity and drain the whole system in order to work at this area?

    To help orient you - the water enters the house from the pipe in the lower left of the photo. Then it comes to this junction point - to the left is the pressure tank, to the right is mystery part. Continuing up past the top of the screen is the rest of the house plumbing.

    Appreciate all your help.

    Attached Files:

  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    It is a pressure release valve and I am guessing that it is rated for some where between 75 and 125 PSI...Watts makes them...


    [​IMG]
  3. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Thanks - about the fix...

    Cass, thanks!

    Looks like I need the female version of that.

    What about the fix - any solution here besides the complete draining of the system and flipping off the breaker switch supplying power to the pump?

    It's the middle of winter here in CT and I'd rather not deal with garden hoses and finding a place outside to drain a huge amount of water (I don't have a basement drain - the big drain pipe exits my basement destined for the septic, at a level about six feet above the basement floor).

    Let me know if there are any tricks....(wishful thinking perhaps)
  4. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    How much water you would have to drain depends on how large your pressure tank is . If it's a common size bladder type tank you wouldn't have to drain more than 5-10 gallons . If that's your pressure gauge I see the bottom of , right above the pressure relief valve , looks like maybe it should be changed while you have things drained . A lot of residental pump/well systems don't have one of those relief valves , I know mine don't . If yours is threaded where it's leaking like the one in Cass's picture is maybe you could screw a plug in it for a temporary fix . DO NOT DO THAT UNLESS SOME OF THE MORE EXPERIENCED PEOPLE ON HERE TELL YOU IT'S OK . If it's been several years since any work has been done on the system , now might be a good time to have an experienced person come out & replace the relief valve , check the air charge in the pressure tank & possibly replace the gague & pressure switch . Every thing needs some maintenance now & then . I'm sure some pros will comment .
  5. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    You need that pressure relief valve ... it is code to protect you. Shutting off the breaker and draining the tank is a quick process. Buy the valve cass has recommended. My caution is that a certain amount of risk is present doing this repair in that you may damage the "cross" (that is the whole assembly) since most well water is corrosive and the torque to loosen this component may cause a failure. If you want to DIY, make sure you don't perform this at some bizzare hour since you may need to call in a plumber if things go wrong ... where in CT are you?
  6. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    You never get to old to learn . As a retired electrician I have checked electrical problems with pumps , pressure switches & other well / pump equipment . I can't ever recall seeing a pressure relief valve on a tank tee . Reading these forums is entertaining & educational .
  7. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Thanks everyone - here's an update.

    I just picked up a new pressure relief valve at Lowe's - unfortunately I can't find a female version and my favorite plumbing supply shop is not open Sundays. Will just have to throw an adapter on.

    Good idea about changing the pressure gauge while I've got it drained - I'll go back and pick one of those up. The current one is looking beat up. I'm also taking advantage of the drain to replace another drippy old valve further downstream.

    Yeah - the torque worries me too - could cause a chain reaction as the whole system is pretty old. Got a couple pipe wrenches, will try to keep the force as focused and localized as possible.

    Oh, I'm located in Brookfield, CT.
  8. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I'm not sure what you mean by needing a female version. They are all male X female. Male into the pressure line and female to vent the water away.

    bob...
  9. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Re female - that was my mistake - I thought the threads belonged to the pipe and not the release, which is why I thought the release was female. I discovered this when I actually removed the part. So I didn't need the adapter, just screwed it in, along with a new pressure gauge. By the way, when I actually looked at the old gauge, it was stuck it a permanent 25 psi, even after I took it off the pipe. Good thing I got that replaced too.

    Interestingly, after I made the replacement, I started the electricity to the pump again, the pressure crawled up slowly into the 40's and then suddenly shot up to over 100 for a few seconds. My replacement valve is set for 75 psi, so it sputtered and spurted until the pressure fell back again to a steady 65, within about 10 seconds. It continued to drip for awhile (maybe 30 minutes) after that, but then stopped.

    Since then, the pump goes on and off like normal and the pressure is between about 35 and about 65. I'm thinking I'm good to go, but should I continue to monitor the pressure? Should spurts above 75 be a rare occurrence? Is 65 too much on a regular basis? Is this range too wide?
  10. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    This might be why the old one was leaking. You may have some problem that you don't want to leave unrepaired. The pressure should always do the same thing. Come on at a given pressure and go up to a pressure 20 to 30 pounds higher than the on pressure. If it's spiking like that, there is something wrong. This could take out your bladder tank and possibly break a pipe if it goes high enough. The PRV is supposed to take care of that, but if it does, your going to have a flood.

    bob..
  11. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Thanks Bob, I'll check the pressure tonight after I get home. We have lots of laundry and dishwashing backlog, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to observe.

    Other than monitoring the pressure, what other diagnostics can I do as a DIY?

    I don't mind calling in a pro, but the last guy we had in just started replacing stuff left and right, without telling us until it was time for the bill - some was needed but I suspect not all was necessary. I would like to get a little better handle on the issues before turning someone loose on it.
  12. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    I understand that, I wouldn't like to have an R&R specialist in my home either.

    To check it out, just cycle it off and on several times to see if you can get it to repeat the spike. If so, be looking at the switch and if the points are still closed beyond it's normal off pressure, look at it's plumbing for a problem.

    bob...
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Some places have a code that requires a pressure relief valve on private well systems and some don't. And as far back as wells go, the code hasn't been in place for very long.

    You do not want to use a PR valve rated at over 75 psi on any private residential well.

    You never plug a PR valve.

    Your pump stayed on when it should have shut off at the high setting of the pressure switch. IMO there is something wrong with your pressure switch, maybe rust in it and/or the nipple it is installed on.

    As Bob says, you really need to find and fix the cause or you could blow the pump off the drop pipe, bust the bladder in the pressure tank or bust plumbing or any plastic parts in the plumbing and fixtures.

    Hint, some folks are anti DIYer... taking anything like this PR valve off or putting it on a tank tee is not hard or dangerous etc. etc. as you've probably seen. Put a block of wood etc. under the tee on the side that will want to rotate down toward the floor as you screw the part out or in. Anyone with the slightest experience in using a wrench or two will automatically know how to do it! Although I'm not sure about folks from New England other than my DIY customers up there, I suspect if when done they have a leak they might, without much effort or time going by, think to turn off the power to the pump or the water and find the leak and a way to wipe up the water or otherwise dry the floor.
  14. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Hmmm, I'm trying to remember exactly how it happened. The pump may have shut itself off and then back on again after spiking to 100. I was more focused on the gauge and the PRV coughing and sputtering, not listening to the pump. It did balance out pretty quickly - we'll see if that ever repeats itself.

    I thought of this too - all my valves were closed when I powered the system back on. It was coming from completely drained and depressurized. Does that make a difference? After I installed the replacement PRV, I closed all the valves and turned the electricity back on, thinking I would check for leaks. Should I have let it run through the hose for a minute or so before closing up the system to test?

    (That also would have prevented a nice glob of air and sediment from slapping into my house filter - had to replace the filter after the flow cleared up - live and learn)

    Also - sorry for the newb question, but where is the pressure switch? I've got a box mounted on the wall with all of the wiring in it but no switches. Is it inside the tank?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  15. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    In your picture , just to the left of the prv you replaced I think I see a small pipe sticking up that is threaded into the tank tee . Is there a small box with wires going to it on top of that small pipe ? If so that would be your pressure switch . Did you check the air pressure in the pressure tank while you had everything drained ? If you have a submersible pump ( a pump that's down in the well ) the pressure switch is usually on or near the tank tee . If you have a pump you can see in your basement the switch might be mounted on the pump .
  16. amateur_plumber

    amateur_plumber New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    Yup - there's a box with a "Square D" logo on it, and the electric runs in and out of there. I assumed it was just boosting the voltage up to 240. When I get home from work, I'll pull off the cover (power off first) and see if there's any obvious rust or corrosion.

    Forgot to check the pressure on the drained unit - I'll go to the other 'sticky' thread and run through the maintenance procedures that the moderator posted there.
  17. WV Hillbilly

    WV Hillbilly New Member

    Messages:
    178
    Location:
    WV
    That's your pressure switch . When you remove the cover you'll be able to see a set of contact points . When the points are closed ( together ) the pump will be running . When the pump kicks off the points will be open . These points usually arc as they open & close & over a period of time will become burned or pitted . These points are what you need to check when you look in the switch . Also the small pipe the switch is mounted on sometimes clogs up & causes erratic operation of the pressure switch . If you end up taking the switch off use a screwdriver or something & run it down inside the small pipe & work it around a little bit to make sure the pipe is clear . Don't forget to turn off the power before checking the switch .
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