Detailed Explanation of Water Heater Operation
The cold water supply line connects to the water heater, typically on top of the appliance. Instead of dumping the water on top of the hot water in the tank, a dip tube carries the cold water down to the bottom of the tank. The outbound hot water line takes the water off the top of the tank. That way, when hot water is drawn out, it is at full temperature. Only after most of the hot water has been used do you start to get the hot and cold water mix.
When you open a hot water tap, the water pressure from the cold water supply line pushes the water out of the water heater and refills the tank with cold water. As cold water enters the tank, the thermostat(s) senses the lower temperature and triggers the heating mechanism.
How a Tankless Water Heater Works
It's the holiday season and your peaceful suburban domicile is overflowing with houseguests. You need a nice, hot shower to soothe your nerves, but you're in line behind your in-laws and cousins. In times like these, you'll be glad you installed that new tankless water heater in your garage.
The idea behind a tankless system is that it heats the water as you need it instead of continually heating water stored in a tank. Tankless heaters have been the norm in much of Europe and Japan for quite some time, but they haven't gained popularity until recently in the United States -- largely due to the green movement. If you're a good candidate for a tankless system, you can save a substantial amount of money every year on your monthly bills while at the same time conserving natural gas. Tankless heaters also last about five to 10 years longer than a tank heater, take up much less space and provide you with an unlimited amount of hot water.
How a Tank-Style Water Heater Works
Water heaters are not really all that mysterious. A water heater heats water on a continual basis, whether you are using hot water or not. When you draw off hot water, cold water enters the tank to replace the hot water drawn out. When the thermostat senses the water temperature has dropped below the hold level, it initiates the heating element(s) in an electric water heater or the burner in a gas model. Even if you don't use hot water, the temperature in the tank will fall and so the water will be periodically reheated to bring it back up to the desired temperature. Because of this wasted energy, it is advisable to turn down the thermostat when away for extended periods of time, such as when you are on vacation. The estimated life expectancy of a water heater now days is 7-10 years.
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