It’s something we don’t really think about — until it stops working. When your shower gets cold, that’s when things heat up!

Amidst cries of outrage about cold water showers and cold water dish washing, we scramble to figure out what caused the water heater to stop working. But, before we talk about things that can go wrong with water heaters, let’s take a look at their simple, yet creative design and discover how it is they do what they do to make our daily lives more comfortable.

 

WATER HEATER DESIGN

The majority of residential water heaters are storage water heaters. They are basically tall cylindrical tanks–sort of like a tall metal drum. They vary in capacity from about 20 gallons to about 80 gallons of water. Even though traditional water heaters don’t present a very dramatic appearance, the principles they use to supply abundant hot water to your home are pretty interesting.

 

COMPONENTS

water heater

                  photo credit: US Department of Energy

 

Storage water heaters are comprised of the tank and a couple of tubes, a series of valves, and a mechanism for heating the water. Storage water heaters are either electrical or gas operated. Here’s how all these components work:

  • Tank: The tank is made of heavy metal and is actually the inner component of the cylinder. It serves as a shell to hold the water. Tanks are often covered with some type of insulating material, a decorative “outer shell” and sometimes an additional insulating blanket-type cover.
  • Dip Tube/Cold Water Inlet: Cold water enters the tank at the top and flows through this tube to the bottom  of the tank. Because the water is cold, it stays close to the bottom of the tank where heating occurs.
  • Hot Water Outlet: This pipe is also at the top of the tank. Heated water at the top of the tank exits through this outlet and flows to areas where it is needed.water heaters
  • Shut-Off Valve: This valves closes off the flow of cold water into the tank.
  • Drain Valve: This valve is near the bottom of the tank and is used to empty the tank when servicing is needed.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: This valve serves to regulate pressure inside the tank.
  • Anode Rod: This rod, made of steel overlaid with either magnesium or aluminum, is suspended in the water of the tank to help reduce corrosion.
  • Heating mechanism: In a gas storage water heater, the heating mechanism is a gas burner and chimney system. An electrical storage water heater uses heating elements projecting into the interior of the tank to heat the water.
  • Thermostat: This device is a thermometer and a temperature-control device. Electric water heaters may have individual thermostats for each heating element.

HOW IT WORKS

water heatersStorage water heaters rely primarily on the scientific principle that hot water rises. Cold water enters the top of the tank through the dip tube or cold water inlet, flows through the pipe to the bottom of the tank where it exits the pipe, pushing the warmer water already in the tank upward.

The thermostat setting is usually between 120 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat should be set nearer the lower end of this range in homes with small children to prevent potential scalding injuries. As the thermostat monitors the temperature of the water inside the tank, it regulates the function of the elements (on an electrical water heater) or the gas burner (on a gas water heater) to heat the water accordingly.

Because heat rises, the hottest water is always closest to the top of the tank. When a hot water tap is turned on somewhere inside the home, the hot water exits the tank through the hot water outlet at the top of the tank and flows to the open tap.

What’s next?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the parts of a water heater and how it works, our next post will take a look at some things that typically cause water heater problems resulting in the dreaded cold shower.

Whether you have a malfunctioning water heater or a leaking faucet or a clogged drain, Knoxville Plumbing is here for you!

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Making your bathrooms cozy for winter months is a priority for some. If you live in a place that stays cold for over 3 months, you need all areas of your home to make you feel secure and “held”. Here are 4 great concepts for “warming” your home’s bathrooms and in turn, your spirit.

Log Cabin/In The Woods

There’s something timeless and classic about a log cabin bathroom that keeps people decorating their bathroom this way. Wooden walls or items, black bears, rustic signs, pine trees and greenery, plaid, fur, and antiques are great ways to solidify this theme. Ensure the space is warm, inviting, and even romantic, by stocking it well with candles or lanterns.

Literally Warm It Up

Affordably, you can purchase very cozy-feeling rugs or replace your lights with heated lights during the winter. There are also some amazing investments that can be made to warm up your bathrooms in the winter including the installation of heated towel bars to keep your towels warm, heated floors, or a fireplace. You can also visually warm up the space, with colors like red, brown, and orange. Rather than doing the obvious and purchasing items that are this color, such as the shower curtain and accessories, consider taking the leap of painting the wall!

Textures and Material Choices

If you are completely renovating a bathroom and live where it gets cold in the winter, consider getting the best winter materials. Materials such as copper, brass, soapstone, and volcanic limestone are well-known for keeping water warm. Test for air leaks by lighting an incense and walking around your bathrooms. The smoke should flow vertically, and when it flows horizontally, you know that air is escaping. Use heavy drapes for large windows to block further air leaking, but use a layer of sheer curtains to take advantage of the sun when it is shining. You might also consider the warm look of a cloth shower curtain that is multi layered and pulls back the same way a curtain wood, so that when you are enjoying a bath, you feel like you are in a special enclosed space.

Spa Theme

Another way to encourage your comfort in a cold winter bathroom is to make it feel like a spa. Purchase lush towels of every size and display them around the bathroom. An essential oil diffuser that delivers aromatherapy and a pleasant looking steam can instantly warm your spirit. Great oils to diffuse during winter are clove and bergamot. These oils in your bathtub will also warm you. Consider stocking your droors with plenty of baking soda boxes and epsom salt for muscle soaks. Proper lighting for relaxation is a must. Candles are obvious choices, but you can also play with others. Ambiant color therapy machines, especially those with sound therapy options are also a great contendor.

Are you a new home owner? Newly fledging your parent’s nest? Recently divorced or made single? Creating a new work space in your garage or craft room? Having a basic tool set for yourself is a must and also makes a great gift for any loved one who finds themselves in one of these situations. […]

There are two kinds of people in this world: bath enthusiasts, and now, shower enthusiasts. Taking a bath or shower after a long day of work is often the perfect start to a relaxing evening. It can signal the brain that work has ended and play has begun. Here are 4 cool shower head products you should consider enhancing your shower experience with.

Light Therapy

Ramon Soler brand offers a shower head that offers much more than light therapy. It also uses music to provide the ultimate relaxation experience. The line is called Hidrocrom and the therapy is called hydrochromotherapy. What makes this product superior from the others is the extent of research and thought that was put into the modern chrome design and its functions. There are three programs to choose from; Wellness, anti-aging, and play bath. Wellness is designed to increase mental and physical well being. Anti-aging is designed to promote energy and balance. And Play Bath is a playful program with rainbow colors. You can also play all three programs one after the other for maximum benefit. The best part for music lovers is that the radio transmitter can pick up signal from a nearby radio or mp3 player.

Low Flow Fixture

A water conservative, low flow shower head can reduce your water usage by up to 5 gallons per minute. Those who are trying to time their showers can conserve as much as 20 gallons when shaving 5 minutes from their shower time using an older shower head model, but an inexpensive water-saving model can afford you more time in the shower with its efficiency. If you like timing your showers, especially in large families where water needs to be conserved and shower time is hogged by particular members, there is the Shower Manager, a timed shower head. Full flowing shower time settings include 5, 8, and 11 minute showers. A 60 second alert goes off, and the water is reduced to 1/3 its stream to allow you to finish rinsing before the flow is completely stopped!

Temperature Gauging

Delta has come out with a new model of shower technology called the Temp20. A digital display on the shower head tells you exactly the temperature of the flow, accompanied by the visual led color display that can tell you whether or not the temperature is safe for you and your family members. This is especially great for children, the elderly, people who are sensitive to hot and cold water, and those who really enjoy hot showers or use hydrotherapy in different ways. The LED shows blue when the temperature is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit and red when the temperature is above 110. A shade of light to dark magenta will show how hot the water is between, but the red indicates an unsafe temperature. The great thing is that the technology is employed on several designs to choose from and is not only one shower head for purchase. The technology can also be applied to tub spouts. This is one way to upgrade the home on its journey to becoming a smart house!