How Does a Water Heater Work?

The Inside Facts About Hot Water Heaters

Hot water plays an important role in our lives and hot water heaters are a key component in our homes. The most common type of heater involves the hot water tank and typically they are heated by gas or electricity.How It Works: Your Hot Water Heater

Whether the water is heated by gas or electricity, the tank is basically the same. They are drum shaped and stand on end. For reasons of space the tank is kept out of sight and is usually located in the basement, laundry room or a special cupboard.

Types Of Hot Water Heaters

Electric Water Heaters

With the electric water heater the heat is provided via a 220-volt circuit. Attached to the tank are two electrical resistance heating elements. Usually one is fitted at the bottom of the water tank and the other in the middle.

The thermostat plays a key role in this type of tank. It is preset to the desired temperature. If the water temperature drops below that level the electric current raises it to the desired level and then cuts off.

Open a hot water faucet and cold water enters the tank causing the temperature to fall. This in turn starts up the thermostat and the element to raise the temperature of the water back to the pre-set level. Even when the hot water faucet is closed, the water in the tank will still continue to be heated until the desired temperature is reached.

Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters operate under the same principles as the electric version. The main difference is that the water in gas water heaters is heated by gas which flows to the burner through a control valve. The thermostat in this type of water heating works in a similar way, with a pre-set temperature maintained by the gas burner. They can either be vented into a chimney (standard efficiency) or through the wall (high efficiency). These units can deliver significantly more hot water than an electric water heater.

Oil Fired Water Heaters

Oil fired water heaters operate under the same principles as the gas version. The main difference is that the water in oil fired water heaters is heated by an oil burner. The thermostat in this type of water heating works in a similar way, with a pre-set temperature maintained by the oil burner. These units can deliver significantly more hot water thana similarly sized gas fired water heater.

Proper Hot Water Preventative Maintenance

There is nothing worse than your hot water suddenly turning cold, such as when having a shower, so to ensure that your hot water heater continually provides hot water as and when you need it, you should make sure that it has regular preventative maintenance.

People who feel competent enough to do their own water heater maintenance often drain it of water. This is usually performed at three monthly intervals. It is done to improve the overall performance of the unit, improve its energy efficiency and to prevent sediment settling in the tank.An oil fired water heater should be serviced by a trained technician once a year.

If you do not feel able or competent to do perform your own maintenance then call us.

Signs Of When To Replace A Hot Water Heater

All things wear out over time and have to be replaced. Signs that your hot water heater may need replacing include the heater not being able to heat water on a regular basis, regular overheating, or strange sounds emanating from the system.

A decision that the heater may be past its best could well be made following an emergency call out to a plumber, or during the annual service.

If you have an emergency, or the water heater is malfunctioning, it is very important that you switch it off. With gas heaters, the thermostat should be switched from on to off and with electric heaters the circuit breaker turned to off.

About Burns & McBride

Our job is to provide essential services to homeowners. one of those essential services is home heating and cooling. We provide dependable service on all brands of residential heating, air conditioning and hot water heaters. Burns & McBride has been providing essential home services since 1949. To learn more about Burns & McBride’s – call us at 302-656-5110 or visit our website at www.burnsandmcbride.com

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