How Does a Tank-Based Water Heater Work?

There are three main kinds of water heater that may appear in a given home: a tank system, a boiler, and an independent heater near the source of the water. The water that goes through your pipes is mostly on the cooler side, which is fine for drinking. Of course, we make more demands on water than being a beverage. Therefore, something has to happen to it between the time that it is in those pipes and the time you use it in a shower or washing dishes.

Parts of a water heater

While tankless water heating systems have gained in popularity, a tank-based heater is still the most popular. This article focuses on the latter. Of the tank-based systems, there are two varieties: electrically powered and fuel-fired. The heater has many components, but the following are the most important parts: a dip tube, a shut-off valve, a heat-out pipe, a thermostat, a heating mechanism, a drain valve, a pressure relief valve, and a sacrificial anode rod.

As expected, the thermostat is responsible for moderating the temperature inside the heater tank. The typical desirable temperature is between 120° and 140° Fahrenheit. Keeping the heater on the lower end can save energy and prevent people from burning themselves. If you do not intend to use hot water for a long period, it makes a lot of sense to lower the temperature.

Water enters the tank through the dip tube and is gradually heated by a heating mechanism. The basic guiding idea of a heater tank is that heat rises. This is why the heat-out pipe is at the top of the heater tank. As the device manages heat, some will be lost over the course of the transference due to entropy.

Effective use of a water heater

Rather than having the heater on high at all times, it is more effective and energy efficient for it to cycle temperatures––even when you are not using hot water. This prevents some heat loss that would occur if the heater remained idle. Another element to keep in mind is that most tank heaters only contain enough water to occupy about 70% of their volumetric capacity. If you know the approximate amount of water you need, it makes go 30% bigger than that number.

Further housekeeping

The heater employs an anode rod to prevent the rest of the tank from corroding. Because corrosion is the rod’s function, you can expect it to do that eventually and do it completely. Therefore, it is important to check on the status of the rod with some regularity (one time a year). If you do that, you may prevent more significant repair and replacement on the rest of the heating unit.

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