The Most Important Parts of Water Heaters

Denver Water Heaters look simple enough on the outside, but they have a lot of ingenious engineering on the inside. Some of that engineering involves dip tubes; if the tube stops working, it can affect how well the heater functions.

Water Heaters

Before you call a technician, ensure electricity flows to the heater by checking the circuit breaker that serves it. If it has tripped, reset it.

It may seem odd that the most important part of your water heater is one you don’t ever see, but the thermostat controls how hot the water is. If you are having trouble with the temperature or simply don’t have enough hot water, your thermostat might be to blame. The good news is that you can often fix it yourself, and there are several things to check first before calling in a professional.

The first thing to do is replace the batteries in your thermostat. Most digital thermostats use AA or AAA batteries, and replacing them can solve many issues that occur with this type of device. Also, make sure your circuit breaker or fuse isn’t tripped. Lastly, check to ensure that the thermometer is level. If it isn’t, you can adjust this by using a level to get it right.

When you turn on the faucet, cold (but soon-to-be) water passes through the shut off valve inside your house and enters the water heater. This water then travels through the dip tube and into the tank. The thermostat inside the tank monitors the water’s temperature and triggers a heating mechanism to heat it. The water rises through the heater as it gets warmer, and the thermostat inside the top of the tank stops the heating mechanism when the water reaches a certain temperature.

Water heater tanks can be made of steel or glass lined with magnesium or aluminum rods. Glass-lined tanks are more common, and they do a better job of fighting internal corrosion. The downside is that they’re more expensive than stainless steel tanks.

Electric water heaters typically take longer to reheat than gas-fired units. This is due to the heating elements in the heater taking more time to reheat. You can help speed up the process by using a programmable thermostat. These devices allow you to save energy by turning the heater off while you’re at work, and timing it to switch on just before you return home. In addition, you can reduce the re-heating time by ensuring that your thermostat is set at the proper temperature.

Gas Valve

The gas valve allows more or less gas to flow into the water heater, increasing or decreasing the amount of heat it produces. It has a thermocouple and pilot light to help control the heating process. If the pilot light is not lit, or if the temperature probe or high limit sensor trips, the gas valve shuts off. The gas valve can be replaced, but this is usually a bigger repair job and should be done only after the thermostat and thermocouple are checked.

If the pilot light stays lit but the gas valve doesn’t open, there could be a problem with the thermocouple or the pilot tube. A faulty thermocouple will not produce enough electrical current to trigger the gas valve to open and start the heating process. Check the thermocouple with a multimeter to see if it’s producing millivolts and is correctly aligned. If it’s not, the thermocouple may be bent and needs to be straightened.

Before working on the water heater, it is important to turn off the gas and water supply. This is to avoid any potential leaks or accidents. The water heater’s gas shut off valve can be found near the bottom of the unit and is typically a lever or round wheel handle. Once located, rotate the handle or lever to the “Off” position.

Turning off the water and gas supplies should also be done before replacing the gas valve. The tank should be completely drained of water to prevent any possible flood or damage. A hose should be attached to the drain valve and placed in a suitable drainage area. The drain valve should then be opened slowly to allow the water to drain out of the tank.

After the water has drained, the old gas valve can be removed. It is recommended to use a wrench when loosening the connection to the gas line, as some water heaters have left handed threads. Once the old gas valve is removed, a new one should be inserted into the opening. It is recommended to wrap the threads of the new valve with teflon tape to prevent leaking. Once the new valve is in place, it should be tightened with a pipe wrench.

Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve, also called the T&P valve, is located on the side or top of your water heater tank. It has a lever you can lift up, and a discharge pipe that runs down to the ground. The valve is designed to prevent a water heater rupture when the temperature or pressure in the tank exceeds the set pressure. If the water heater is experiencing high temperatures, the T&P valve can open periodically to relieve excess pressure in the tank and protect your home from a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEV).

The water in your hot water system will be close to boiling when it passes through the T&P valve. As the water heats up, it expands, lifting the T&P valve’s disc off its seat and discharging the water from the tank. The T&P valve opens and closes based on its pressure set point (typically 150psi), and will continue to open as pressure builds up. When the upstream pressure drops a few psi below its set point, the valve will close again.

Over time, your T&P valve can become sticky, which can cause the valve to stick in either a closed or extended position. A stuck valve can prevent it from opening when the temperature or pressure in your water heater tank rises, which could lead to a ruptured water heater tank.

If the T&P valve is sticking and unable to open or close, it will need to be replaced. To replace the valve, first turn off the power supply to your water heater by turning off the gas or flipping the breaker if it’s electric. Make sure to wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear, and change into closed-toed shoes. Next, carefully disconnect the discharge tube from the T&P valve by unscrewing it with a wrench or pliers. Once the discharge pipe has been disconnected, you can begin replacing the valve by inserting and tightening it. Be sure to use Teflon tape to ensure a secure connection and to orient the new valve so that it discharges away from the water heater.

Pilot Light

The pilot light is the small flame that lights and maintains a steady flame inside of your gas water heater. If the pilot goes out, you’ll be missing out on the comfort of hot showers until it is re-lit.

There are a few different reasons why your pilot might go out and most of them are fairly simple to fix. However, before attempting any repairs, be sure to follow the exact manufacturer instructions available for your specific unit. Taking unnecessary risks can be dangerous and could result in damage to your water heater.

First, shut off the gas supply by turning the valve at the bottom of your water heater to the off position. Wait a few minutes for any residual gas to dissipate. Then, locate the pilot light area. This may be an alcove with a door or cover or it might just be an open area. Shine a flashlight in this area and look for 2 small tubes leading to a small pilot burner. You should see a knob with the markings PILOT on it. Turn the knob so that it aligns with PILOT and press it in.

If the pilot light still won’t stay lit, then it is likely due to a problem with your thermocouple. The thermocouple is a safety feature that works to detect the flame and ensures that gas flows into the water heater. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple will sense that there is no flame and close the valve to prevent gas from entering the water heater. If you are unable to relight the pilot light, it is likely that your thermocouple is worn out and needs to be replaced.

It is also possible that your pilot light will not stay lit if there is not enough air flow to the flame. This can happen if the venting on your water heater is not working correctly or if high winds blow down the vent pipe. This is usually easy to fix and just requires you to clean out the venting on your water heater and straighten out any kinks in the flexible tube that leads to the pilot.