How Your Electric Water Heater Works

How Your Electric Water Heater Works

Some of us rely on a hot shower to get us going each morning. We turn the faucet all the way to the left, wait a few seconds for the water to warm up, and step into a steamy wakeup call.

In your early morning daze, you probably aren’t giving much thought to where your hot water is coming from. We don’t blame you. However, your electric water heater—which may appear boring and simple—is actually pretty fascinating. Learn what your water heater does to keep you comfortable.

The Components of a Water Heater

An electric water heater is a recognizable fixture in most homes. You probably know yours as a tall cylindrical tank sitting in your laundry room, garage or a closet (although some newer models have done away with tanks for on-demand water). While your water heater may look unassuming, it takes a lot of different parts working together to operate. Here are the ones you should know.

– Tank: Made of metal and cylindrical in shape, the tank contains a water protective liner that holds between 40 to 60 gallons of hot water. The tank is covered in an insulating material like polyurethane foam. The tank and the the foam are concealed in an outer shell, which is what you see when you look at your water heater.

– Dip tube: Located at the top of the tank, this is where water enters the water heater and travels to the bottom to be heated.

– Heat-out pipe:Located near the top of the tank, this is where water exits the water heater.

– Thermostat: A thermometer and temperature controlling device.

– Heating mechanism: The device that heats the water inside in the tank.

– Drain valve: Located near the bottom of fixture, the drain valve is how water is removed from the tank when a repair or move is necessary.

– Shut-off valve: The shut-off valve, which sits above the unit, stops water flow into the water heater.

– Sacrificial anode rod: Suspended in the water heater to help resist corrosion. Made of magnesium or aluminum with a steel core.

– Pressure relief valve: A safety device that keeps the water heater’s pressure at a safe level.

How it Works

Cold water from your home’s water lines flows through the dip tube to the bottom of the tank’s interior. The heating mechanism, which warms the water, stays on until the temperature set on the thermostat is reached. Most thermostats can be set between 120 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit, though it is recommended to not go above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scalding temperatures.

The water heater’s design is based on the principle that heat rises. As the water heats, it rises to the top of the tank, where it exits through the heat-out pipe. The water heater’s design ensures the water exiting the tank is always the hottest because it rises above cooler water. As hot water leaves the tank, new cold water enters and the process cycles on.

Trouble With Your Electric Water Heater? Call Us!

Don’t settle for cold showers! Whether you need a new heating system installed, an emergency repair on your existing water heater, or simple routine maintenance, the Climate Design plumbing team has you covered. Call today to set up an appointment, or visit our website to learn more about our plumbing services!