The inner workings of water heating systems are not that complicated. However, since there are different systems involved including how they are powered or generate heat, it means there are number of ways involved in making hot water. Many of their processes vary, especially when you get to have a look at the schematics of each system. If the question is “how a water heating system works?” then the question will likely be much simpler.
Most water heaters involve a large container tank where water is heated using either electricity or gas. The water usually fills most of the tank which is then heated at a preset temperature. This temperature is maintained almost at constant temperature by the system, so, ideally, you will have the same temperature each time you turn on the tap. The tank automatically tries to refill the lost water and heats it accordingly. The main disadvantage with this system is that it constantly needs to heat the water to maintain its temperature making it use energy even if heated water is not needed. For this reason, storage tank water heaters should be very well insulated so as to avoid standby heat loss and thereby avoid having to reheat the water more often.
Another type of water heating system is the tankless water heater which also heats water using either electricity or gas. The difference between this system with a tank system is that, well, it does not have a tank to store heated water. Instead, a tankless water heating system heats water instantaneously as soon as it is needed. This is possible because it has very effective heating system where it heats water at a predetermined temperature when water passes through its heating tubes or coils. In fact, these tankless systems have become more high tech and intelligent as they are able to detect how much incoming water there is inside their system, should multiple taps be open, and adjusts their heating elements or burners accordingly to produce and deliver the desired temperature. The best part about these water heating systems is that once the demand for heated water ceases, the unit shuts down thereby using no energy.
Residential and commercial water heaters are similar in how they heat water. However, their main difference, aside from price, is the build quality as commercial water heaters need to be more robust because they need to supply more hot water as compared to residential water heaters. Another difference would be their heating system. Commercial water heaters have a large and more efficient heating system because they need to heat large amounts of water due to the huge demand. Since wasted energy means a lot of money for businesses, owners usually invest a lot of money in having their commercial water heaters properly insulated so they are not prone to standby heat loss. This allows their large capacity tank systems to stay hotter longer.
Water Heater Problem and Symptoms
A water heater, regardless of system, will encounter a problem one way or the other. If you have a water heater in your home that is more than ten years old, then you would likely have dealt with a problem or symptoms. The main thing about water heating systems is that they need to be in perfect working condition so that you can enjoy your hot bath each time without any problems. Since there are different types of water heating systems, there are also different water heating problems that you may encounter. However, most problems are encountered with storage tank water heaters. Since they have a lifespan of 10-15 years, you will likely encounter some problems after around 5 years or so. The truth is many water heating problems are easy to diagnose and repair. If you know your way around tools, you will save a lot of money on plumber bills. When making any diagnostics or repairs though, it is important that you turn off your water heating unit’s gas supply, electricity supply, as well as the water supply.
Water Heater Leak – this is perhaps the most common problem for all types of water heaters. If you have pools of water below your pipes, there is likely a water leak. Since water leak can originate from any location and connection, locating where the leak is coming from is very important. However, if this pooling of water only happens during the winter or cold season, then pool of water may simply be just due to condensation. Water heater leaks mostly originate from loose or defective pressure relief valve, or drain valve. Replacing any of these valves can be accomplished easily and with no fuss. The best thing about them is that they are very inexpensive. For electric water heaters on the other hand, there are times that the gasket is the source of the leak. If your water heater is worn down, corroded, and leaking, this might be due to a pinhole on the tank. Overtime, this leak will get progressively worse and replacing it would be the best solution.
Rotten Smell in Water – this smell is mostly due to the bacteria that react with the anode rod inside the tank, or it can be due a water system being connected to a well system. Either way, the smell of the water is both unpleasant and repulsive. The best way to get rid of this smell is to flush the tank, introduce some bleach to the tank to remove the smell, and replace the current anode rod with a zinc-aluminum anode rod.
Water is Too Hot or Too Cold – if adjusting the thermostat doesn’t do the trick with the “too hot or too cold” water from the water heater, then you need to check if there is a problem with your thermostat. If the thermostat has current, then it is faulty and needs to be replaced. Replacing the thermostat is fairly easy. Then again, if your unit is under warranty, it is suggested to have it serviced rather than risking voiding the warranty of your unit. If the problem is not with the thermostat and the water is on the cold side, then the likely problem would be with the dip tube. This dip tube is a plastic tube that if busted, will allow incoming water to blend with the already heated water. Replacing the dip tube is fairly easy and will help resolve the problem.