It seems easy enough – we turn on the shower and hot water comes on. But, instant hot water actually has a long history!
A Little Hot Water History
Before the hot water heater was invented, natural sources like fire and natural gas were used to heat water for cooking, bathing, and other uses. Thankfully, an Englishman named Benjamin Waddy Maughan invented an instantaneous water heater called the Gas Geyser. Using heated wires, it heated water as it entered a storage area or a tub.
Maughan’s design was innovative, but it proved to be dangerous for use because it did not have proper ventilation. In 1889, Norwegian engineer Edwin Rudd invented an automatic storage gas water heater with better safety features. While Rudd was Norwegian, the product was developed in the United States, making it an American invention.
While technology has made it possible to have water heating systems without a storage tank, Rudd’s design continues to be the foundation of water heaters that are found in homes and businesses throughout the United States today.
How Water Heaters Work
The typical water heater uses a storage tank and some sort of gas or electric-based heating apparatus to heat a certain amount of water at a time. Electric water heaters use a rod to heat the water, while gas water heaters use a flame underneath the tank to create warmth.
The tank has tubes for water to enter and exit the tank, a thermostat to monitor temperature, and a pressure system to ensure that the water-heating process does not produce unsafe levels of water pressure.
So here’s how it works:
- Water enters the tank from the water line.
- The heating mechanism at the bottom of the tank begins to warm the water up.
- As the water heats, it rises to the top of the tank.
- When hot water is needed, it is taken from the top of the tank, where the hottest water will be at any given moment.
For tankless water heater owners, the process is slightly different. Instead of heating a storage tank, there is a heating coil apparatus that uses hydronic energy to heat the water in the hot water piping.
Water Heater Experts
Technological and plumbing advances over the years have improved the design and function of the water heater. Now, you can enjoy up to 12 years (or more!) of dependable, hot water in your home or business using just one hot water heater.