Plumbing 101: A Comprehensive Guide To Water Heaters

diagram of a water heater

Take a second to think about what your life would be like without hot water. That’s right — cold showers and baths, cold water for washing dishes and kitchen utensils, cold water for laundry. It would make things far less convenient and a heck of a lot less comfortable, right? Well, it’s time to give some appreciation to your water heater — the one piece of equipment you can thank for having hot water when and where you need it.

What is a Water Heater?

A water heater is a piece of plumbing equipment responsible for a heat transfer process that uses an energy source to heat water above its “normal” temperature. Since we’re not blessed with an adequate amount of hot springs, we typically don’t have access to “natural” hot water in the United States.

For that reason, comes the need for water heaters. These appliances provide us with a continual supply of hot water — so we can use it when and where we need it, whether it’s in the kitchen or in the bathroom.

Water Heater Power Sources

Most water heating appliances require fossil fuels for operation. Natural gas, propane, oil or solid fuels generally act as the fuel source for these appliances, but electricity can be used as well.

Additionally, alternative energy sources such as solar energy, heat pumps and geothermal heating can be used to heat water for daily use in the home.

Types of Water Heaters

  • Tank-Type Water Heaters: these are often considered the more “traditional” water heaters. They can be powered by gas or electricity and as the name implies, they come equipped with a large insulated holding tank where hot water is stored until it’s needed. Cold water enters through the bottom of the tank and is heated by a gas flame or electrical elements as hot water is needed for applications throughout the home. These types of water heaters also have an adjustable thermostat that regulates and maintains water temperature.

  • Hybrid Water Heaters: these models are similar in look to tank-type water heaters, but they differ in the fact that they have an electric heat pump on top. They operate by capturing heat from the air in the room and then transferring it to the cold water that enters the tank. Generally speaking, hybrid water heaters use about 50-60% less energy than a conventional tank-type water heater, but they do cost nearly twice as much.

  • Tankless Water Heaters: these water heaters don’t have a tank at all, as the name implies. They are often mounted on the wall and they can provide hot water for the entire house, without the use of a bulky storage tank. These heaters remain idle until hot water is demanded, and then cold water flows into the unit where it is heated by an electric hanging element. It then flows out of the appliance and toward the faucet or shower head where it’s needed. Since this type of water heater shuts down when hot water isn’t needed, it generally uses about 30% less energy per day than a traditional water heater.

  • Point-of-Use Water Heaters: don’t need hot water in the whole house? A point-of-use water heater is the solution for you. They are installed near one specific location where hot water is needed and they heat water at that specific fixture, almost instantly.

Have additional questions about water heater applications and/or the pros and cons of each available model? Don’t hesitate to call on the plumbing experts at Aztec Plumbing & Drains!

Water Heater Repairs, Replacements and Installations in Fort Myers

Do you need your water heater repaired or replaced quickly? Aztec Plumbing & Drains can help! We proudly offer comprehensive water heater services in Fort Myers and throughout the surrounding areas. We offer upfront pricing and free estimates, so you’re never caught off-guard by the cost of your service.

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