How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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What is the small pipe on the side of the house that is dripping water?
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
That pipe coming out of lower part of the wall of your home, or coming up from the ground near the wall, could be any one of these three things:
1) Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) discharge pipe for water heater - The TPR valve at the side of the water heater is required to extend to an exterior location and terminate pointing downward. The water is water is dripping because the valve has opened, either because the water heater is overheating or the valve is malfunctioning. Find the TPR valve at your water heater and feel the discharge pipe directly below the valve. If it is warm, this is the source.
If the water is coming out at just a slow drip, it is because the valve is leaking and should be replaced. If it is flowing steadily, then it is likely the valve has opened because the thermostat at the water heater has failed and the unit is overheating. Either way, repair is necessary.
2) Drain pipe for catch pan under water heater - The drain pan under the water heater is required to have a drain pipe to the exterior, to avoid flooding the home if the water heater starts leaking. Also, in some homes, the TPR valve terminates into the catch pan. Check the catch pan under the water heater for standing water. Again, repair is necessary.
3) Condensate drain line for indoor unit (air handler) of air conditioner - As part of the cooling your home, the air conditioner is also dehumidifying the air. The indoor air handler collects the water and drains it to the ground, usually near an exterior wall. This is normal, but will only occur when the system is operating and for a few minutes afterward.
4) Condensate drain line from high-efficiency gas furnace - If your furnace is the high-efficiency type that has PVC pipe flues, then it may be a drain pipe for the condensate that the furnace creates as part of squeezing every last BTU it can out the gas combustionl. There may also be a small collector cup and drain visible at the side of the furnace.
If the leaking pipe is sticking down from the soffit of the house, see our blog post What is the small pipe sticking out of the eaves/soffit under the roof overhang?
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