How does a Hot Water Heater Work?

Have you noticed that we worry about how house appliances work only when they malfunction or break? And yet, knowing how they work could help us maintain them more properly and avoid at least some of those malfunctions.

Furthermore, knowing the components and how they work could also help us avoid service providers from fooling us and asking for too much money. 

In this article, we’re focusing on water heaters: how does a hot water heater work?


Water Heater: Components

If you want to understand how a hot water heater works, you must first understand the components.

So this is a list of the main components of any hot water heater:

  • Tank: The tank is the component of the water heater that stores the water. This way, as soon as you open a faucet in the house, the hot water will be immediately available.
  • Dip Tube: the dip tube is where the water comes inside your house. It’s the beginning of your water line: the municipal water source provides water to your house through the dip tube. From there, the water enters the hot water heater unit.
  • Heating element: it’s the element that provides heat so that the water can be warmed. It can be electrical or a flame. If you see flames in your water heater, you have a gas water heater: it is connected to the gas supply, and the gas feeds the small flames that heat the water.
  • Anode Rod: a safety measure that prevents the tank from rusting because of electrolysis
  • Thermostat: it’s the elements of the water heater that “reads” the temperature of the water and regulates the heating element according to it.
  • Valves: last but not least, in your water heater, you certainly have more than one valve:
    • the drain valve, which is used to drain the sediments that can build up inside your tank;
    • the shut-off valve can be turned to avoid more water entering the tank.
    • Pressure relief valve. The water inside the tank has pressure, and the valve prevents the pressure from getting too high, which would be extremely dangerous.

Read: How Does A Tankless Water Heater Work?

Read: 10 Best Immersion Heaters 

How does the water heater work?

So, what mechanism allows you to have hot water in your shower?

From the dip tube, the municipal water enters your water heater unit. Water that runs through the unit gets heated thanks to the heating elements that could be electrical or gas-feed (flames).

Then, the hot water would be stored in the water tank. From here, many tubes have connected that end up in every faucet in your house.

This way, whenever you need hot water, you can turn on your hot water faucet, and the hot water will be immediately available.

What happens when the tank runs out of hot water? You still have water running through your faucets, but it would be cold.

To have hot water again, you’ll need to wait: the water needs to get heated by the heating unit, and the tank needs to be filled again. Then, you can have hot water again.

Read: 10 Best Dewalt Heaters

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