If you’ve ever wondered how your water heater works, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve ever entered your basement, you may see a large cylinder-like object; in most cases, you’re looking at the water heater. Though, it’s important to note that not all heaters will have a tank. If you’ve ever taken a shower while this unit isn’t working, then you know how important it is to your water system. It is important to ensure that you get your water heater checked out by an HVAC professional if you are experiencing any problems. This is unfortunately not a do-it-yourself job if you have to repair your water heater. It is also important that you consult an expert if you are in the market to purchase a water heater.
When you go into your basement and see the cylinder, you’ll notice the thermostat on the front. That thermostat will regulate the water temperature inside of your water heater. Keep in mind if you do crank the water heater too high, you can risk burns or possible scalding, so it’s always important to keep it in mind. Luckily in our modern age, taps and faucets typically come with some regulating device or crank to change your water temperature. Keeping your water heater warm enough to kill any potentially harmful bacteria is also important.
Now to get into how exactly the water heater works. Much as you may expect when heating anything, a burner or an element is being used within the water tank. This is also possible through a tube that feeds water into the tank from city systems. Once the water is warm enough and needed, it will rise and move through another pipe to where it needs to go. The actual principle of the system finds its backing from the theory that heat always rises. Since you would have a clashing of two different water, being cold and warm within the tank. The warm water from the burner or element will always rise, and that’s how it separates in the tank.
There are other types of water heaters besides your basic water tank style. A pro for the water heater tank is that the water is available when you need it, though it will use more energy than other types. The benefits of this style of heater are that they are typically more affordable than other types. They are also easier to install as they are more common. Another water heater style is the tankless water heater; this one functions differently from the first type listed. As opposed to pooling water and having it ready when you need it, it’ll heat is when you need it. Though this style is typically more energy-efficient, the initial install may be more expensive due to having to swap pipes. An interesting water heater is the heat pump that utilizes electricity to heat the water. It will draw heat from the ground and air to heat the water as it travels in and out of the pump. However, this style requires the room to constantly be above a certain temperature, about 32 degrees Celsius. There must also be a certain amount of space around this type of heater when it’s being installed. Much like many modern water heaters, it is very energy efficient.
One of the most environmentally friendly water heaters you will find is the solar-powered water heater. This water heater style uses a tank that uses the energy from the solar panels to heat the water. The biggest benefit to this is obvious, the energy efficiency. If you are in a particularly sunny place, this is an ideal water tank. Though being a water tank-style system, you will have to get the tank cleaned to prevent damage and build up. Something to keep in mind is if you’re not in a sunny place, then you may need an alternative source of power for your water heater. It can also be fairly expensive, needing the solar panels and the tank.
The final style of water heater you may encounter when purchasing a heater is the condensing water heater. This is another tank-style heater; this one utilizes natural gas through a coil at the tank’s bottom to heat the water. This water heater requires much of the same maintenance that a normal tank water heater requires, with the added need to clean the gas valves yearly. The benefit of this water heater is that it is extremely energy efficient, especially for families. The primary benefit for families is that this water heater usually comes with a larger tank. The main downsides are this tank not being easily available in smaller sizes, and of course, it is not the choice if your home doesn’t run on natural gas.
Ultimately there is no one size fits all when you’re buying a water heater for your home. Each water heater style comes with its pros and cons and will need to be explored when buying. If you’re looking to purchase a water heater for the first time or even buy a new one, you should consult a professional before doing so. An HVAC technician will be able to explain each of the different types of heaters along with their pros and cons, and they will also be able to identify the best fit for you.