Our plumbing system branches into hot and cold water pipes that carry water to indoor plumbing fixtures and other appliances. Cold water passes directly from the water supply main through filters or water softener appliances to kitchen faucets, showers and bathtubs.
Water filters beneath kitchen sinks are usually installed to remove various impurities, offensive odors and tastes from tap water. Toilets, outside faucets, and fire and lawn sprinklers systems require cold water only, while kitchen and bathroom sinks, tubs and showers, and washing machines are fed with hot water supply. Hot water will reach the relevant plumbing fixtures after first passing through a water heating device such as a boiler or water heater.
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How Water Heaters Work
Hot water accounts for about 25% of the total daily domestic consumption. Heaters receive cold water from the main plumbing water line and can store up to 60 gallons of water in a steel tank. Stored water is heated by electricity, gas, coal or solar energy (click here to find more about solar water heaters). Electrical boilers will heat water with a copper wire coil, while a gas burner or a gas heated coil will heat up the stored water in a gas water heater. A network of pipes will then carry hot water from the heating source to appropriate fixtures and appliances.
With a thermostat you can control the temperature of the water. The recommended temperature in home water heaters ranges between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 49 to 60 Celsius. A drain valve is located at the base of the water heater through which water is drained from the steel tank for the purpose of sediment removal.
Cut Water heating Costs Plumbing Tip:
Tankless water heaters may provide a more energy efficient alternative than conventional storage water heaters, precisely because they don't have a storage tank full of water to keep hot, rather they provide hot water instantaneously. For this reason they are also known as demand water heaters. Tank-less water heaters have a life span of more than 20 years, which is about 13 years more than conventional water heaters.
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Common Water Heater Problems
Although conventional gas or electric tanked water heaters are usually reliable, occasionally they become problematic. The following table summarizes the most common problems with electrical or gas tanked water heaters, and their possible repairs.
NOTE: Water heaters are complex units that require professional repair by certified plumbers. People with the necessary knowledge and experience may decide to repair their own heaters. Knowledgeable do-it-yourself fans should take the following precautions before troubleshooting their tanked water heaters:
- Switch off power to electric water heaters
- Switch gas pilot control valve to "pilot" settings
- Close water supply to heater
- Open hot water faucet nearest to heater
- Attach hose to drain valve
|Problem||Possible Causes||Possible Repairs|
|No hot water||
|Rust colored water||
||Replace sacrificial anode rod with magnesium anode rod|
|Rotten egg odor||Bacteria buildup inside tank||
|Rumbling sounds||Sediment accumulation in tank is causing its overheating and the boiling of stored water (– also source of the rumbling sound)||Drain tank to flush out sediment|
|High pitch noise in electric heaters||Scale buildup on electrical heating elements||
|water around base of heater||
Water Heaters Brands
- Bradford White
- General Electric
- Stiebel Eltron