Benefits Of Water Heaters
Last Updated on June 1, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
The importance of having a water heater in your home is innumerable. However, in this guide, we would show you a few of these benefits. Of course, you can live in a house without a water heater, but then there are so many benefits which you’d miss out on. Read through this guide, as we show you what you benefit from having a water heater in your home.
What is a Water Heater?
A water heater does exactly what its name implies; it heats the water. You use this water to shower, wash your hands, cook, and clean. It takes cold water from a water supply pipe and warms it up. It then pumps it throughout your home when you open a tap or start your clothes washer. Water heaters are used to warm water that’s potable (clean and safe for cooking and cleaning).
What Is Inside Your Water Heater?
TANK – The tank itself has a couple of different layers that all serve different purposes. The inner shell is a heavy metal tank that has a protective glass liner that holds about 40-60 gallons of hot water. The exterior of the tank is covered in an insulating material and over that is an outer layer (which is just for outward appearance) and possibly an additional insulating blanket.
GAS VALVE OR BURNER ASSEMBLY (HEATING) – Gas water heaters use a flame underneath the tank to heat the water, while electric water heaters use a heating element.
THERMOSTAT – This serves as the temperature control device to determine how hot the water will get. You should be able to adjust the thermostat to meet your needs.
DIP TUBE – This is the tube where water enters the tank to replenish the hot water being used. It’s located at the top of the tank and goes down to the bottom where the water is then heated.
SHUT-OFF VALVE – This valve will stop water from flowing into the water heater. It’s actually a separate component from the water heater and is located outside and above the unit.
HOT SUPPLY – This is located inside the tank at the top; this port allows the hot water to exit the tank and flow through your home’s pipes to whatever appliance you want hot water from.
DRAIN VALVE – This valve is not a part of your water heater’s daily use, but was created to easily empty the tank to replace the elements and remove sediment or to move the tank to a new location. This is located near the bottom of the tank on the outside.
PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE – This a safety device that keeps the water pressure inside the tank within safe limits.
SACRIFICIAL ANODE ROD – This rod is suspended in the water tank to help keep your tank from corroding. This acts similar to a magnet by attracting corrosive minerals in the water to the rod instead of eroding the tank. It’s usually made of magnesium or aluminum with a steel core. This should be replaced about every 3-5 years, depending on how hard your water is.
How Does a Hot Water Heater Work?
A Simple Breakdown
A typical water heater will use a storage tank (looks like a big metal cylinder that’s usually in a laundry room, utility closet, or in a garage) and will either use gas or electricity to heat a certain amount of water at a time (depending on the size of your tank). Gas water heaters use a flame underneath the tank to create heat, while electric water heaters use a heating element to warm the water.
Each tank has inlets that enter and exits the tank to move the water to where you need it (i.e. shower, dishwasher, etc.). There’s also a thermostat to monitor the temperature and a pressure relief valve to help ensure the healing process doesn’t produce unsafe levels of water pressure.
- Water enters the tank from the main water supply.
- The heating burner/element at the bottom of the tank starts to heat the water.
- As the water heats, it will rise to the top of the tank.
- When you need hot water, it’s taken from the top of the tank where the hottest water is.
For tankless water heater owners, the process is slightly different. Because there is no storage tank, there is a heating exchanger that is used to heat the water. It uses gas as the heat source, which allows the heat to transfer from the heat exchanger to the water. Unlike storage water heater tanks, you won’t run out of hot water and it’s a great option for homes that have several family members or for those homes that use a lot of hot water.
Different Types of Water Heaters
The two main types of water heaters are conventional water heaters and tankless water heaters, but there are also a few other types of heaters explained below.
- Conventional: conventional water heaters have a tank where water is stored and heated, either using gas or electricity. Fresh, cold water enters through the bottom of the tank and is heated to a specific temperature where it remains ready for use.
- Tankless: tankless water heaters, also known as “on-demand” water heaters, heat water very quickly, which makes up for not having any hot water stored. What’s more, they require less space. Other types of water heaters include:
- Heat Pump/Hybrid – a heat pump or hybrid water heater is often more energy-efficient than other kinds of heaters, as they use heat from the ground or air. But keep in mind: that makes these types of water heaters a poor choice in cold spaces.
- Solar – These are for use with solar thermal panels (which don’t produce electricity) that take heat from the sun and transfer that to your water heater. They are best used in warmer, sunnier regions.
Maintaining a Water Heater
Water heaters require maintenance to work more efficiently and to extend their life. That means regular draining, flushing, removing sediment, etc – either on your own or by a professional.
For a thorough, six-step process to water heater maintenance, This Old House recommends the following steps. (The article also includes photos for each step that should help you out significantly, if you plan on doing the maintenance work yourself).
- Test the valve – make sure your power is off and the water valve is closed. Lift the tab briefly, let out a little water, and release. The water flow should stop. If it doesn’t, the valve may need to be replaced.
- Check the anode rod – the main thing you’re looking for is calcium. If it’s coated, you’ll want to clean it.
- Drain tank and remove sediment – drain the water into a bucket, then let some freshwater into the tank to mix with the sediment at the bottom. Repeat until the water going into your bucket is clear.
- Adjust the temperature (optional) – lower temperatures will save you money. Locate the temperature dial on the side of the tank and turn with a flathead screwdriver.
- Insulate the pipes – insulating the hot pipe will help retain heat while insulating the cold will prevent condensation when the weather is warm. Make sure the pipe insulation foam matches the diameter of your pipes.
- Insulate the heater – using an insulating blanket, cover everything except controls and the top of oil or gas heaters. Secure the edges to the tank with foil tape.
Importance of a Water Heater in Your Home
Hot water heating systems are installed in many homes. They serve the important function of supplying heated water to your taps and plumbing fixtures on demand. Without a water heater, you would be required to heat water manually when bathing, washing hands, and more.
While no homeowner wants to live without the functional use of a water heater, some hot water heating systems are more functional and useful in your home than others. After understanding more about the important benefits that a specific hot water heating system can provide to you, you may determine that it is time to upgrade to a newer model.
- Water Conservation
One of the key features associated with a high-quality water heater is that it can help you to conserve water. If you choose a tank-style water heater, the right size tank for your home’s hot water consumption needs can help you to conserve water over time. A tankless hot water heating system is also noted for its water conservation benefits.
This is because a resident will not have to run the tap for several minutes before hot water is delivered as needed. Instead, a tankless hot water heating system heats water on demand, so hot water is delivered to the tap more quickly. Installing a water-conserving model in your home can help you to save money each month on your home’s water bill.
- Energy Conservation
Hot water heating systems generally use electricity or gas to heat water. You may consider changing the energy source that your hot water heating system uses to conserve energy and save money. However, you may also consider installing a tankless water heater to conserve energy.
A tank-style hot water heating system keeps the water stored in the tank at a constant temperature regardless of if you demand a water heater at that moment or not. Even if you go on vacation for several weeks and don’t use hot water during this period of time, the water heater is still maintaining the temperature of the water. A tankless water heater will not heat water until you turn on the tap, so there are energy savings associated with a tankless hot water heating system.
- Hot Water on Demand
While the right hot water heating system can provide you with the ability to conserve both water and energy and ultimately can save you money over your long-term use of the water heater, many homeowners will agree that the greatest importance of a water heater is the ability to provide you with hot water as needed.
Hot water is most often used for bathing and washing hands, but it also is used for cleaning and other functions as well. Whether you are starting your day with a warm shower, washing a mess off of your hands, or something else, your life can be greatly inconvenienced when you don’t have the ability to draw hot water from your taps on demand.
- Installing a New Water Heater
If you believe that you may benefit from the installation of a new hot water heating system, you should contact us today for service. Some hot water heating systems may be struggling to meet the demands of the household, and others may be costing you more money than necessary to heat your home’s water. Some people may also need to replace a water heater that no longer works.
Water heaters, as we have tried to explain above are a great appliance with so many benefits. Having one in your home could save you a lot of stress.