Conventional Water Heaters
Certainly the most used type of hot water heater is a traditional storage tank heater. There are more homes in the United States that have this style than any other. They can be powered by either gas, oil, liquid propane, or electric, and have a storage tank that holds heated water. Natural gas and electric are the most popular styles. Gas models cost more than electric to buy usually, but will cost less money to operate over time than an electric model.
The energy source is used to keep the water within the storage tank at a constant temperature. We won’t go into details here how each of the different fuel source type heaters operate. The general concept is that as hot water is needed inside the home, it is drained from the top of the tank and then more water is taken into the tank from the bottom and heated. It uses the theory that hot air, and in this case water, rises. There is a thermostat that will monitor the water temperature level and will tell the fuel source, which ever type it is, that it needs to heat more water once the temperature drops too low. In terms of the best temperature level it should be set at, we have information on that here.
The sides of the water tank as insulated, and newer models have very good insulation properties. But, the water needs to be constantly heated 24 hours a day so it remains at a constant temperature to be ready to use when it is wanted. Because of this, traditional water heaters are not considered to be the most energy efficient choice one can make.
For those that have a vacation home, or will be traveling for an extended period of time, it is wise to turn off the power source of the water heater to conserve energy. For a vacation home, many people will drain the water even, to prevent an unforeseen water leak. Having 50 gallons or more of water leak into ones home can cause much damage to the floor and furnishings!
They also take up more space than a tankless water heater would, because the storage tank can hold over 50 gallons of water. Most traditional water heaters are located in a garage, basement, or even a closet of a home. Wherever it is to be installed, one needs to make sure that the area around it is kept clean, so dirt and dust do not get into the air intake of the water heater. Also, any flammable substances need to be kept away from it as well. This is what makes having the water heater located in a garage difficult many times, if paint, or gasoline for a lawn mower might be stored close by.
The water within the tank is under pressure and it is the job of the temperature and pressure relief valve, also called the T&P valve, to maintain this pressure level. This valve is the most important water heater part that needs to be in good working order to make sure too much pressure does not build up inside the water storage tank and cause the tank to explode. This does not happen too often, thankfully, but it is the aspect of a storage tank water heater that is the most dangerous.
How long will a conventional water heater last? Typically it will continue to provide hot water for 12 to 15 years. Some will last longer than that even. Most have warranties that last from 3 to 12 years. When selecting a heater, get the one with the longest warranty possible, for typically the parts on it will be designed to last longer.