How Do Hot Water Heaters Work
Hot water heaters are actually
relatively simple appliances. As a result, it is easy to
understand both how they work and how they can be repaired if
necessary. Even if you do not have a lot of plumbing experience
you can learn how to do the preventative maintenance necessary
to keep your hot water heater running long-term.
Understanding how hot water heaters work will
also help you if you’re thinking about building your own water
All water heaters work on the same basic
principles: cold water goes into the tank, comes into contact
with some form of heat, and then hot water can be piped out of
the water heater to your shower. For a traditional water
heater, the heating elements are usually on the bottom of the
water heater. The reason for this is that typically cool water
will sink to the bottom of the tank. As a result, the hot water
is near where the water heater pipes it out to be used and the
cold water ends up next to the heater.
You can run out of hot water if you use it
faster than the heater is able to warm the water. If you notice
this happening on a regular basis it can mean a few things. It
might mean that there is something wrong with your water heater
- like a leak. It may also mean that the heating elements are
burned out or not working as well as they should be.
Here are a few problems that your hot water
heater can have as well as some advice as to how you can fix it
without too much trouble. Why pay for a plumber if you don’t
If you are running out of water too quickly, it
could mean that the dip tube is broken in your hot water
heater. This is less obvious than if your hot water heater has
an external leak. In this case, not all of the incoming cold
water will end up on the bottom of the tank near the heater.
Since any time you use hot water, cold water comes into the
tank, there will end up being a flow of cold water near the top
of the tank. This water will mix with the warm water and may
even overwhelm it, making it seem as though your water tank is
out of hot water, even if there is a lot of hot water left.
You may also have problems with sediment if the
water is not heating properly. If there is too much sediment
build up on the bottom of the tank, it can act as an insulator.
This keeps the heat from reaching the water above it. Sediment
at the bottom of the tank can also contribute to making the
tank noisy. Bubbles from superheated water that gets trapped
under the sediment can cause the sediment to shift when they
You can fix sediment build up by flushing out
the hot water tank. You should do this as soon as possible if
you have a loud water heater because another cause of hot water
heater noises is water leaking onto the heating element.
Leaking water can cause a power short and should be checked
Whether your have a
DIY water heater or one that you bought,
all water heaters operate in the same basic way. Cold water
enters the hot water heaters, the water is heated, and then it
is piped out for use. Understanding this can make hot water
heaters easier to fix.
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