Water Heater Denver is one of the most important appliances in your home. They heat your hot water using natural gas or electricity (depending on your model) and provide an insulated storage tank.
These tanks can be powered by electricity, burner oil, or natural gas. They use a heating mechanism that is always running to keep the water at prescribed temperatures.
Thermostats control the operation of electric heating elements, helping ensure hot water is produced only when needed. An electric hot water heater has two thermostats – the upper and lower thermostats. When either fails, the water heater will fail to fire up and produce hot water, or it may heat the water to a higher temperature than your set point.
If you are experiencing issues with your water heater, a malfunctioning thermostat could be to blame. You can diagnose this problem with a simple multimeter. First, turn off the power to your water heater by turning the breaker OFF at the main electrical panel. Next, open up the access panel on your water heater and remove the insulation and plastic protective cover. Once the access panel is open, disconnect any power wires from the upper and lower thermostat terminals by pulling on the small plastic tabs (or screws) located near each terminal. Make a note of their orientation for when you reconnect them later in the testing process.
Test the upper thermostat first by touching one lead of your multimeter to the common terminal and moving the second lead to the left heating element terminal. Your multimeter should read zero if the upper thermostat is functioning properly. If your multimeter gives you an infinite reading, the upper thermostat is faulty and requires replacement.
Repeat the same testing process with the lower thermostat, starting with the common terminal and then moving to the right heating element terminal. Again, if your multimeter gives you an infinite reading, then the lower thermostat is faulty and requires replacement. When the upper and lower thermostats are both functioning properly, they will tell the heating element to heat up only when the water temperature in the tank drops below your set point. This helps reduce corrosion, a major cause of water heater failures.
The two pipes connected to the top of your water heater, the cold water inlet and hot water outlet, serve distinct yet complementary roles. The inlet pipe conveys cold water into the water heater to prevent the water inside it from cooling and the outlet pipe delivers hot water throughout your home, making sure that the temperature of the water is consistent.
The water lines that run to and from your water heater are often copper. You may be able to find compression fittings that allow you to connect them without soldering, which can save money on plumber fees. If you decide to use these, make sure they are compatible with your pipes. You can also get kits at most hardware stores and home centers that have all the compression fittings you need for your home plumbing system.
Water line connections and fittings often leak. Check them periodically and tighten loose ones. Look for signs of corrosion or leaking around the connection to the water heater, and change worn washers.
Your water heater has a safety valve at the top that releases hot water from the tank when pressure or temperature is too high. This valve should be protected by a T&P deposit pipe that runs to a drain or outside of your house to prevent the accidental discharge of hazardous combustion by-products into your home.
The drain pan that sits beneath the bottom of your water heater should be properly installed, with a metal vent connected to the hot water outlet pipe and a shut-off valve at the drain connection. The vent helps prevent condensation and gas buildup that can damage the water heater, as well as ensures that any water that drains from the pan will not pool on the floor.
Located at the cold water inlet, your hot water heater tank has a dip tube to direct incoming cold replacement water towards the bottom of the tank for heating. Its purpose is to keep dense, cold incoming water from mixing with the warmer, floating layer of hot water that rises from the top to supply your home with lukewarm or hot water. Without a working dip tube, this mixture would cool down the hottest water that floats on top of the tank to a point where it cannot be drawn into your faucets or appliances.
The lifespan of a dip tube depends on several factors, but most will last 10-15 years before needing replaced. When they do, however, it is important to install a new one that is made of a durable material such as cross-linked polyethylene PEX, which can hold up to the hot water temperatures of your water heater. The plastic flecks from broken, petroleum-based dip tubes can clog your water heater, reducing the amount of hot water your home is able to receive.
Fortunately, replacing the dip tube is an easy task for most homeowners to perform. First, turn off the circuit breaker and the water supply valve to your heater. Then, disconnect the short piece of pipe threaded at both ends on the cold water inlet and remove the old dip tube. After installing a new, durable tube (such as a PEX dip), reconnect the cold water inlet and make sure the tip of the tube extends to the water level on the bottom of your tank. Once done, shut the circuit breaker and water supply back on. You’ll then be ready to enjoy your hot water again!
If you are performing water heater maintenance, it is important to close off your home’s main shut-off valve. It will stop water flow, making the job much safer and less likely to cause damage.
The water supply valve is typically a round lever with a handle that can be turned clockwise to shut off the water and counter-clockwise to turn it back on. It is typically located on the pipe that leads to your water heater. If you are not sure where the valve is, check your home inspection report or a previous contractor’s work. It may also be in a utility closet or garage on the main floor of your house.
A water heater also has a pressure relief valve, which is a safety device that opens if the pressure in the tank reaches unsafe levels, around 150 psi. This prevents the explosion of the water heater tank, which can send molten metal flying through your walls and roof, causing significant structural damage.
To open the pressure relief valve, drain a large bucket of hot water from your home’s plumbing to reduce the risk of scalding. Then, open the drain faucet on your water heater and run a garden hose to the bottom of the tank. Once the tank is empty, close the drain valve and run a faucet in your home to let air in as the water cools, reducing the chance of sediment buildup. It’s a good idea to do this regularly to maintain the condition of your water heater and to help it last longer.
Unlike point of use water heaters (which heat water as it flows to the sink or shower) water heaters with tanks hold a supply of hot water at a pre-set temperature. This temperature is usually higher than the temperature of the cold water entering your home, in order to prevent scalding and protect you from Legionella bacteria.
The tank has a gas burner or electric heating element at the bottom which warms the water and a dip tube that keeps cold water from mixing in with the heated water. When you turn on your faucet, the hot water is sent from the tank through your house’s pipes. If the faucet is turned off, the dip tube automatically shuts off the flow of water to avoid wasting energy and prolonging the life of your hot water heater.
If you notice that your water is running out more quickly than normal, you may want to consider upgrading your water heater with a new high efficiency model. These models are typically 24%-34% more energy efficient than standard storage tank water heaters and can save you up to 86 gallons of hot water per day.
Another popular upgrade is a powered anode rod. These rods are made of titanium and come equipped with a current rectifier that plugs in, and they produce a small electrical charge to help reduce sulfur smells, tank corrosion, and scale buildup. They last much longer than traditional sacrificial magnesium anode rods. For the best performance, you should also consider adding a water softener or conditioning system to your home’s plumbing system. These devices are known to reduce the amount of minerals in the water which cause hard water, and they also make your hot water taste better.