Plumbing in the Home/Plumbing Question...
I just noticed a little puddle of water on the floor right at the end of the pipe connected to the pressure release valve on the hot water heater. (It's a gas heater, by the way.) Is that an indication that something is wrong? Is it a leak in the pressure valve, or does it just release small amounts of pressure from time to time? It's about eight years old, and this is the first time I've noticed anything like this.
Any info/suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
The pressure relief valve will emit water if the temp. or the pressure exceeds the limitations of the valve. Your leak could be an indication of a problem with the gas valve not sensing temperature properly or not shutting when the set temp. is reached. It is possible that the valve is just worn out and needs to be replaced. Under no circumstances should you plug it to stop the leak. This valve is a safety device designed to save your home and your life. I would replace it and check it in a day or two. If you notice it leaking again I would replace the gas valve. An eight year old tank is close to the end of it's life span so I would not spend the money to replace the gas valve, I would replace the tank completely if it were mine.
One last thing, if you or someone has open the valve by lifting the lever recently, chances are there is just a little corrosion under the valve seal and you may be able to stop the leak by opening it and flushing some water through it. Be very careful because the water coming out will be very hot so take precautions. Be advised it only works about half the time. I would replace it regardless. it's a cheap fix and well worth it.