How Gas and Electric Water Heaters Work

In these modern times, water heaters are a familiar sight in the bathroom, basement, or laundry room of most homes. Traditional water heaters are cylindrical-shaded drums with a reservoir that holds water. More modern units have done away with these tanks entirely and can produce water on demand. But the old design is still very much in use in most homes. This simple appliance is a water reservoir with a heating mechanism that can be powered by electricity, gas, or any other power source. Water Heater Man’s experts are helping Oklahoma City area homeowners and breaking down all the details for these home essentials. If you suspect you need a water heater repair or replacement, contact us today!

Basic Components of a Water Heater

Whether gas or electric, all water heaters have some components that are similar, including:

  • Drain valve

  • The TPR valve

  • Internal anode rod

  • Dip tube and pipes

  • Water overflow/pressure relief

For tanked units, the reservoir is often made with some sort of insulating material that is designed to keep the water hot. Another important component of a water heater unit is the thermostat. For an electric unit, the thermostat is typically separate but for gas models, the thermostat is built directly into the valve that controls the gas supply. Additional features you are likely to find on a gas water heater include:

  • A heat limiting device

  • Internal flue

  • Thermocouple

Functions Of An Electric Water Heater

In both types of water heaters, cold water goes into the tank through the dip tube. For an electric model, the thermostat on the side of the reservoir automatically senses the low internal temperature and triggers the switch so that the heating element is heated up. The heating element operates like a regular electric stove burner (i.e. electricity passing through a resistant material to produce heat.) When the water is heated to the appropriate temperature, the thermostat triggers the switch to turn off the element. If you suspect any issues occurring with these general functions, contact our professionals for water heater repairs.

Functions Of A Gas Water Heater

Gas models also have a thermostat that detects when the temperature of water in the reservoir is low. This sends a signal to the valve that controls the gas supply to allow gas to flow to the burner, igniting a flame that heats the water at the bottom of the tank. The gas heater uses the natural principle of convection to achieve uniform temperature in the tank. The water heater also has a component known as a thermocouple. This sensor detects whether the pilot light is burning (which indicates that all is well with the gas connection). If the pilot light is not on, the thermocouple prevents the valve from releasing gas into the burner. However, it’s again possible for issues to prevent these processes from happening, in which case a new water heater installation may be needed.

Learn More About Maintenance With Water Heater Man

Although both gas and electric water heaters have similar components, there are remarkable differences in their operation. This also means the kinds of faults they are likely to have tends to differ. Whether you need water heater installation or water heater repair service — for both electric and gas-powered units — you can call the Water Heater Man for help.