A nice and comfortable hot shower can be a deal-breaker when it comes to starting your day on the right foot. Even tiresome household chores can be made manageable with running hot water.
Having a water heater at home is a simple luxury that we often do not think of but rely heavily on each day. Having your home water heating system fail at the last minute is extremely inconvenient.
Without knowing the exact problem, you try to jump at the first repair offer you can find. This can do loads of damage to your wallet, not only in terms of initial repair costs.
It may also lead to more repair problems that you could have anticipated and avoided.
To properly manage your household, it is critical to learn about the basics of the home equipment your family heavily relies on.
How the Water Heater System Works
This system relies on a fuel source to heat water that either flows through it or is stored in a tank.
The heated water then flows out the water fixtures. These include faucets, showers, washing machines, and dishwashers.
Modern-day water heaters are fueled by either gas or electric sources.
Types of Water Heaters
Water tanks can be classified according to how it stores water and how it is fueled.
Storage water heaters
These types of systems have a tank that can hold a significant amount of water. Modern-day units use natural gas, propane, or electricity to run the burner inside a storage water heater.
While these tanks have excellent internal heat conductors, they must also be heavily insulated to prevent the escape of heat. Material, such as polyurethane foam, effectively prevents heat from escaping and keeping the energy bound within the system.
Storage water heaters can further be classified according to the fuel source.
The unit can detect when the temperature drops below the unit’s pre-set requirement with a thermostat. This will automatically ignite the system’s heater to raise the water temperature between 110 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coldwater flows in from the top of the system through an inlet until it reaches the burner at the bottom of the unit.
The burner uses the air from the air intake valve to start the combustion process. This creates a flame that will begin heating water.
The combustion gases move up from the bottom of the unit until it exits through the exhaust pipe. The flue also acts as a heat conductor.
The heated water will then travel back up until it exits the unit through the water fixtures.
When the internal thermostat detects that the temperature is below the pre-set requirement, an electrical current will run through the system. These systems use the conductive properties of water as electrical energy is converted into heat energy in the heating elements of the machine.
Tankless Water Heaters
These water systems can also be heated using natural gas, propane, or electricity. Unlike heaters with a built-in water tank, these systems transfer heat to the water as it passes through the system.
When the hot water tap is opened, cold water will flow in from below the heating system and be exposed to a heat exchanger. As long as the hot water tap remains open, a sensor will detect water movement, igniting the fuel source to convert energy into heat.
Through the conductive properties of water, hot water will eventually exit through the fixture.
Tankless gas heaters, in particular, contain an exhaust pipe to release the combustion gases.
A convenient feature of some tankless heaters is an internal recirculation pump. This allows heated water to instantly be pumped through the plumbing lines. These can even be to a predetermined schedule to avoid having to wait for the heated water.
Another convenient feature of some gas-powered tankless water heaters is the incorporation of condensing technology. As the combustion gases exit the exhaust pipe, this additional element will convert the gas into usable heat, making for an extremely energy-efficient and budget-friendly system.
1. Indirect Water Heaters
This energy-efficient system does not require electricity or gas. It uses the heat produced by the hydronic boiler to which it is connected.
This type of system contains a water tank which houses a heating coil. Hot water flows through this coil and heats the cold water in the storage tank.
Unlike a central water heating system, point-of-use heaters are placed in close proximity to the water outlet. The proximity of the system to the fixture allows cold water to be heated efficiently and immediately.
Point-of-use heaters are available in both storage and tankless models. These can also be powered by either gas or electricity.
These units can typically be found in commercial establishments or large residential areas with a distant water source.
3. Heat Pump
An air-source heat pump would use electricity to effectively transfer heat from the environment to stored water. As these systems use heat from the surrounding space, a heat pump will typically not work in cold climates.
An even more energy-efficient option is the geothermal heat pump. This system effectively transfers heat from the ground to a water storage tank.
These systems also have very low operating costs and take advantage of constant ground and water temperatures. Unlike air-source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps may be used in extreme climates.
Getting to know the basics behind the system that we rely so heavily on each day for comfort and convenience is necessary to avoid future mishaps. These would deduct a great chunk from your wallet and your precious time.
Learn about the system that would work best for your household. After all, it’s these little details that bring small joys that make life all the more worthwhile.