Your water heater is composed of several different parts, each working in tandem with the other. Here we are going to review the various parts of a standard water heater to give you a basic understanding of the machinery that makes the hot water we use in our daily lives.
Tank- The largest and most noticeable piece of your water heater is the tank. Made out of heavy duty metal, water tanks range in size but generally hold 40-60 gallons of hot water at a time. Inside, they are heavily insulated to keep the hot water to temperature and preventative coatings are put to make sure that the outside of the tank is not hot to the touch.
Dip Tube-To get from your water supply to the interior of your heater, all water passes through the dip tube, starting at the top of the tank and then going to the bottom where it is heated. As the water gets warmer, it travels automatically to the top. Heat always goes up!
Heat-out pipe- When you call for hot water through a tap inside your house, the hot water is thrust upwards through the heat-out pipe which is located in the top of the tank and then it runs to the appropriate tap.
Heating mechanism- A gas water heater will use a classic burner and chimney system while an electric water heater uses heating elements that are inside the tank to heat the water.
Sacrificial anode rod- This is one of the features that helps to prevent corrosion of your tank and heating elements. It is made of aluminum or magnesium and has a steel core which is suspended near the top of the tank.
Pressure relief valve- Another safety component, this valve controls the pressure elements inside the tank.
Drain valve- The bottom exterior of the tank has the drain valve which allows for the water heater to be drained. This should happen once a year to help remove any sediment build up. If you are moving and taking your water heater with you, you will want to drain it before you move as well.
Shut-off valve- Exactly what it sounds like, this valve is separate from the tank and allows you to stop water flow into the heater. If you are going on vacation or will be out of your home for a long period of time, consider shutting it off to save money.
Thermostat- Perhaps the most important piece to non-plumbers, the thermostat controls the temperature and allows you to set it to the requirements of your home, restaurant, or business.