How Does a Water Heater Actually Work?
Simply stated, a water heater is basically a holding tank for water with a thermostat located on the outside of the tank – usually near the bottom. The cold water supply comes into the water heater (normally at or near the top of the water heater) and a tube inside the tank forces it to the bottom so it makes contact with the thermostat probe or sensor.
I Just Want Hot Water – Now!
Hot water flows out of the water heater and into the hot water piping when a faucet or valve is opened. This hot water outlet is normally found in the same area or location as the cold water inlet and both should be clearly marked as such on the tank.
Whether it’s gas or electric, once the thermostat detects there’s cold water in the tank, it initiates the command to begin heating. The thermostat then monitors the water temperature in the tank and keeps the gas flame or the electric “elements” working until it reaches a set temperature – usually around 120 degrees; ultimately this is controlled by the homeowner. Once the water reaches that set temperature, it will then shut off the flame or electric elements.
The water heater tank then holds 120 degrees of water (or whatever temperature is set on thermostat) all the time waiting for you to use it. The thermostat will continue to monitor the temperature, keeping the water at the temperature set at all times. Your water heater might cycle on as many as 7-10 times a day whether you use the hot water it contains or not. Whether you are home or not, it’s going to cycle on and off to keep that water hot all the time.
Why is 120 degrees important with a water heater?
Water heaters are normally set by the water heater manufacturers to 120 degrees. If the water heats to much over 120 degrees it may scald a person, especially if younger children or an elderly person is in the house. Water at 120 degrees is also the temperature most dishwasher and clothes washing machine manufacturers recommend setting your water heater.
What if the dishwasher heats the water too?
Most dishwashers also heat the water as they use it. They have a heating element, but it is sized to supplement the hot water that is recycled over and over through the dishwasher jets, not heat cold water. Basically, the heating element in the dishwasher is just considered a booster, not a water heater.
Trying to use cold water in a dishwasher can also contribute to other issues. You would likely get a buildup of scale on the inside of your dishwasher because it’s heating the cold water once it gets to the dishwasher, instead of heating it in the water heater where the minerals in the water are anticipated to be collected on the sacrificial anode rods. You will also lose efficiency because it takes longer for the dishwasher to heat the water using the heating element. The dishwasher cycle is over before the water is heated enough to be as effective. The good news here is that plumbers know best practice is to connect the dishwasher supply line to the hot water stop…not the cold water.
Look for Ideas to Lower Energy Costs at Your Home
Watch for a future article on our website where we will discuss different ideas and techniques that might help you save money on utility bills as it pertains to your water heater.
Make Leak Geeks Your Plumber
Call Leak Geeks Plumbing professionals if you need help with your water heater. You can be assured that only a Licensed Plumber will be there for any work done in your home. We work diligently to make certain that you are treated with respect and have all your questions answered before we go to work in your home.
Leak Geeks Plumbing provides water heaters, tankless water heaters and plumbing services in Keller TX, Southlake TX and the surrounding area. For more information about your water heater and other plumbing services by Leak Geeks Plumbing, connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, our channel on YouTube or LinkedIn.