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How Does a Hot Water Heater Work? Answered by Philadelphia, PA Emergency Plumbing Company

hot water heater convection science

An example on how convection works in a pot. Hot Water Heaters use the same principle on a larger scale.

The ability to have hot water on command is vital to living a healthy life. But, how does a hot water heater work? McClain Bros answers these questions for us.

PHILADELPHIA, PA, US, May 14, 2020 / -- Water heaters are one of the many great inventions of our modern world. The ability to have hot water on command is vital to living a happy and healthy life. We need our hot water heaters to do all the essentials like cooking and cleaning. In our busy lives, it can be easy to forget about our hard-working home appliances. It’s important to know what type of water heater is providing for your family and to know about how it works. Knowing what you have is vital to keeping it running longer and keeping your home life running smoothly. McClain Bros, an emergency plumbing company for the greater Philadelphia area, were kind enough to help answer these common questions about water heaters and how they work.

What types of water heaters are there?

There are three main types: tankless, gas, and electric. Each may have some variants on them but for the most part, will either be one of those three. Gas and electric water heaters are similar in that they are a storage-based style, whereas tankless functions differently.

How does a tankless water heater work?

Also known as an “on-demand” water heater, this type is a newer type that is gaining in popularity. This is because of its energy efficiency, some claim it is worth its pricer upfront costs. Tankless water heaters are smaller than their storage counterparts because, obviously, it doesn’t have a tank to store water. Rather it heats water as you turn on your sinks, tubs, or other appliances. As you need water, the tankless heater will heat the naturally cold water that passes through it with either a gas or electric element. Gas-fired models tend to produce hot water quicker than electric models but are often thought of as less energy efficient. Regarded, by professional opinion, to be better suited for small homes that are more conservative on hot water use, but larger houses can still benefit from tankless water heaters. Larger homes that use more hot water are recommended to install more than one tankless heater, which shouldn’t take up too much space but should still provide for the while home.

Like most home appliances, some maintenance is required. Tankless water heaters do need to be flushed about once a year to keep it clean and prevent clogs. The filtration and fans also require regular cleaning. While this may not sound difficult and experienced homeowners could do it themselves, it is highly recommended you get a professional to perform the maintenance. DIY solutions may void your warranty, a risk not recommended to take. When properly cared for, tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years, which is double the average lifespan of those with storage tanks.

How does a gas water heater work? How does an electric water heater work?

Since both gas and electric are storage style water heaters that means both works similarly. Both store the hot water until it is needed, but one type is heated with a flame and natural gas while the other uses resistant coils. These heaters use the science of convection, meaning it uses the fact that heat rises to function. Coldwater is constantly being supplied into the tank, where either the flame or coils heat it. The heated water rises to the stop and when needed is then used in whichever appliance you're using. Storage style water heaters are less efficient than tankless types but are more affordable and still the most common water heaters around. Electric water heaters are a bit more energy efficient but gas is still considered better at heating in general.

Gas and Electric water heaters do require less maintenance overall than the tankless, but also do have a shorter lifespan overall. When going on a trip it is recommended to adjust the water heater’s thermostat to save on some energy. Overall just be sure to keep an eye and ear out for any signs that your water heater might need some attention. Signs can include leaking, noises, or a loss in pressure and temperature. Be sure to call a professional in water heaters to resolve any issues right away!

Keep your whole home happier and healthier by making sure your vital appliances get the TLC (tender love and care) when needed. Knowing how your home works will help you avoid emergency situations such as expensive repairs or possible home damage. It is interesting how the appliances people use daily can be so vital yet also use such elegantly simple science in function. Its thanks to the knowledge provided by the experts are McClain Bros that we finally know about types of water heaters and the science behind how they work.

Slicks Digital
McClain Bros.
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