The Anatomy of Your Home’s Water Heater

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Phil Puccio

The anatomy of a kettle

Traditional water heaters look like large metal cylinders and are usually located in your basement or closet. While Water heater As they become increasingly popular, this blog focuses on how the more common traditional tank water heater works.

Your water heater does an important job that you probably don’t think about often. It provides warm or hot water to all parts of your home for hand washing, showering, dishes, and more. How come you have hot water at the touch of a button? We’re going to cover the parts of the water heater that make this possible and what to do if your water heater isn’t working as it should.

Anatomy of the water heater

The two most common types of water heaters in US households are the traditional electric and gas models. These two varieties have many of the same elements with the main difference being their energy sources. Its main components include:

Water tank. This stores the hot water until it is needed on a tap or device. The tanks are available in different sizes, depending on the amount of hot water required. Most tanks are lined with a thin layer of glass. Transport your new water tank carefully to avoid cracks or breaks.

Immersion tube. This is the cold water pipe that brings new water to the water heater. When hot water escapes from the top of the heater, the immersion tube fills the water supply at the bottom.

Spout for hot water. This is where hot water leaves the tank to flow through the plumbing of your home.

The drain valve of a water heater.

Thermostat. Like the thermostat for your home, the thermostat on your water heater regulates the temperature of the water. When the thermostat detects cold water at the bottom of the tank, it activates the burner or heating element to heat the water.

Drain valve. There is a hose connector and valve on the bottom of your water heater. Use this to empty your tank once a year to prevent debris from building up in the tank. Consult a professional if you are unsure how to drain your water heater.

TPR valve. Water heaters have a temperature relief valve on top. This valve opens when the tank is exposed to excessive pressure or heat. It will prevent your water heater from exploding.

Internal anode rod. This rod attaches to the top of your tank. Like a magnet, it attracts the corrosive elements in your water so that they don’t eat away at the tank walls. Depending on how corrosive your water is, you may need to replace your anode rod every few years.

Electric vs. gas water heater

How your heater heats water depends on whether it runs on electricity or natural gas. We explain the differences below.

Electric water heater

An electric heating element from an electric water heater.

In addition to the above parts, electric water heaters also include:

radiator. This is a metal loop in the tank. It is operated by an electrical resistor and controlled by the thermostat. When electricity flows through it, it becomes hot and heats the water.

Electric water heaters have a thermostat that is mounted flush with the outside of an internal tank. This thermostat constantly measures the internal temperature of the tank. When it notices that the temperature is getting too low, it activates the heating element in the tank. The tank’s internal heating element heats the water stored in the tank. The heater works similarly to an electric stove heating a pot of water. As soon as the water has reached the set temperature, the thermostat cuts off the power supply to the heating element.

Gas water heater

Additional parts that make up a gas water heater are:

The smoke vent on top of a gas water heater.

burner. The burner sits at the bottom of a gas heater. When the water in the tank needs to be heated, a flame from a pilot light is ignited. It’s essentially like heating a kettle on a gas stove.

Smoke vent. This is a hollow “chimney” through the middle of the tank. It leads the exhaust gases from the burner to the outside.

Thermocouple. This is a small stick under the burner. It detects whether the pilot flame is on and sends a signal to the burner to activate it. When the indicator light goes out, the water heater’s thermocouple is preventing the gas valve from opening and gas from entering your home.

Gas water heaters have a thermostat just like electric ones. The thermostats in gas water heaters contain a thermocouple and a mercury sensor in the tip. The thermocouple monitors the control lamp and the mercury sensor monitors the internal water temperature.

When the temperature in the tank gets too low, the thermostat sends a signal to the gas control valve. This valve logs on with the thermocouple to ensure that the indicator light is on. When it does, the valve opens and lets gas into a burner, igniting a flame. This flame heats the water. As soon as the water in the tank has warmed up to the desired temperature, the gas control valve closes again. The exhaust gases from the burner travel through the smoke outlet and safely outside.

How do you choose the right water heater for your home?

First, check out our helpful guide! We’ll explain everything you need to consider when choosing a new water heater. This includes the right type, fuel, efficiency and tank size that suit your needs.

How do I best care for my water heater?

  • Make sure you drain the tank regularly to remove any sediment build-up. Failure to do this will make the tank heating much less efficient due to sedimentation.
  • Set the water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less. If you are going to leave the house for a long time, you should reduce the temperature before leaving.
  • Always be on the lookout for buildup of water around the bottom of the heater tank. Detecting small leaks before they become big can save you a lot of money and trouble.

Repair and installation of water heaters in Los Angeles

If your water heater is leaking or you are interested in upgrading your water heater to a more energy efficient water heater, tell the team Mike Diamond a call. Our experts can help you choose the right brand, model and size for your home. Not only that, we can also install as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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