How your water heater works

The convenience of a water heater is something that most of us living in San Luis Obispo never consider, that is until you wake up one morning and it’s no longer working. Water heater leaks and the resultant loss of hot water is one of the most common plumbing complaints we hear about, so while we may not notice that hot water heater so much when everything is fine, we’re definitely aware of it the second it’s gone.

Fortunately, water heaters haven’t changed much over the years and remain a pretty simple machine for the most part. The more you learn about how it works, the easier it will be for you to maintain and make any potential minor repairs that may arise. The plumbers at Hoffmann Family Plumbing are more than happy to help you understand how your water heater works.

A look inside your water heater

Now, let’s take a look inside your water heater. You probably know it as the tall cylindrical thing in the garage, sort of a lonely figure for all the work it does, but for all it’s unremarkable outward appearance it’s a surprisingly remarkable contraption.

San Luis Obispo Water Heater Repair and InstallationTank – The most recognizable feature of the water heater. It’s where the magic happens. The inside of the tank is made up of heavy metal with a protective liner and is insulated again on the outside to keep the water hot. It holds anywhere from 40-60 gallons in a typical residence.

Heating Mechanism Depending on whether you use gas or electricity to power your water heater, you either have burners/chimney or heating elements respectively.

Thermostat – Temperature control and measuring device, we’re all familiar with these, many other appliances around the home use them as well.

Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve – It’s a safety measure that prevents your water heater from becoming a rocket if anything were to go wrong. Just imagine if the tank was under too much pressure or heat and there was nowhere for all that to go. . .Boom! It’s integral to every water heater.

Sacrificial Anode Rod – This fancy mechanism is suspended in the tank, it keeps corrosion from setting in.

Dip Tube – It routes the cold water to bottom of the tank to be heated.

Heat-out Pipe – This is the route the hot water takes out of the tank after it’s heated.

Shut-off Valve – This is outside of the water heater, it stops water from flowing into the tank. By turning this valve to the off position, you shut off hot water to the whole house.

The first thing to do is set your Thermostat for optimum energy savings and comfort, lower temperatures save money. The Dip Tube feeds cold water into your tank where the water begins to warm. Then the Heating Mechanism does it’s thing until the water reaches the desired temperature which is controlled by the Thermostat. The water then rises to the top of the tank as it’s heated exiting through the Heat-out pipe. Water exiting the water heater at the top of the tank is always the hottest in the tank because hot water rises above the denser cold water. Heat always rises.

So as you can see, your hot water heater isn’t exactly rocket science but it’s simple design is something we all rely upon for cleanliness, sanitation and comfort. If you have any further questions about how your hot water heater is built, just give us a call at Hoffmann Family Plumbing in San Luis Obispo. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

Hoffman Family Plumbing San Luis Obispo: Your Water Heater Resource



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