Hot Water Heater Parts

Review of the main parts on gas and electric water heaters

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This page is about hot water heater parts, where we are explaining the main components found on electric and gas water heating appliances. With the better understanding of component parts like gas valve, thermocouple, pilot light, venting system; it is much easier to pinpoint the problem, and troubleshooting is simpler. By using the instructions found here, there will be no need to call the expensive plumber or HVAC technician to repair or replace the broken parts.


Hot water heater parts review will cover mainly the storage gas and electric tank heaters as the most common source of the residential water heating. Use this article for tankless water heater parts.

We will also review different manufacturers like Rheem, GE, Whirlpool, Bradford White, AO Smith, to show the difference, what the common replacement parts and heating process technology are.

The main gas and electric water heater parts

thermostat

Some water heater components are almost mandatory in the heater design and construction, whilst other are there for efficient heating operation and increased safety. Such a difference will provide longer warranty and higher prices.

Storage tank

Majority of the storage tank heaters are made of carbon steel, Rheem Marathon electric heater is constructed of the plastic tank that automatically eliminates the need for the anode rode and corrosion protection.

Gas valve

gas valve

Robertshaw and White-Rodgers are two of the most used manufacturers of gas control valves. Gas valve is the heart of the water heater as it supplies natural or propane gas to the burner and pilot light, and is also a safety device.

Both manufacturers have similar elements like the gas control knob, reset button, high water temperature limit safety and temperature dial.

Heating elements

Electric heating elements are the source of the heat within electrical appliances, and are usually found as the upper and lower element. These electric water heater parts can be also found in solar heating systems.

Anode rod

hot water heater anode rod

Anode rod protects the steel metal tank from corrosion, together with the tank's glass or ceramic lining. The element is usually called the sacrificial anode, as it sacrifices itself in order to extend tank's life.

How it affects your water heater performance and what are the common problems with the anode read this article.

Venting

Venting system serves to vent the products of combustion out through the flue baffle and vent pipes, and in some models to draw the fresh air in, needed for gas combustion. Based on your preference, your home design and construction, location of the heater and other requirements, you can find different types of the venting systems:

  • Two-pipe closed combustion system eliminates the problems caused by insufficient indoor ventilation, while it draws fresh air from outside the home.

  • Two-pipe or one-pipe atmospheric vent system with drafthood.

  • Concentric vent system is consisted of two pipes (pipe within the pipe); larger pipe is used to draw the air in, inside pipe is designed to direct the gases out. It can be used with or without electric powered blower.

emergency plumber

Blower

Electric blower is using 110/120 volt electrical system, usually rating 3 amps or less and is equipped with 6-foot cord.

Dip tube

Dip tube is the cold water inlet extension, and some manufacturers like Bradford White utilize the perforated tube to create the turbulent flow and reduce the lime and sediment buildup resulting in maximizing the hot water output. It is usually made of PEX polymer.

Gas burner assembly

The most important among hot water heater parts found on gas fired appliances is the gas burner assembly, consisting of several components such as:

  • Main burner, manufacturers Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, are promoting Eco-friendly burners that reduce NOx emissions by one third when compares to the standard burners.

  • Burner orifice

  • Manifold tube

  • Pilot burner / pilot light with pilot tube and orifice. On water heaters with pilot light, pilot burner remains ON once it is manually lit. It is used to ignite the gas. Some manufacturers utilize hot surface or electrodes instead of pilot flame.

  • Igniter like piezo electric is used to lit the gas.

  • Thermocouple is the safety part used to send the signal from pilot light to the gas control valve; the small electrical current is generated which is enough to inform is the flame present or not.

  • ECO or Energy Cut Off is the metal tube (temperature probe) which is mounted onto the back of the gas valve and immersed inside the water tank and acts as the temperature high limit.

  • TCO or Thermal Cut Off Switch is a resettable thermal switch, constructed to shut off the gas supply if the temperature of products of combustion is too high.

  • Mechanical type thermostats are used on standard residential water heaters. Thermostats are usually factory set on 120 F to prevent scalding water, and they operate with certain tolerance.

FVIR

Fire-proof flame arrestor, built in the water heater base, is part of FVIR or Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant technology that deals with the accidental or unintended ignition of flammable vapors.

TPR valve

TPR valve or temperature and pressure relief valve is used to protect the system from the excessive hot water pressure. It is usually combined with discharge pipe to an adequate drain.

Air pressure switch

Air pressure switch is used on all gas water heaters that are using electric powered blower for venting products of combustion. It is used for all power vent and power direct vent heaters to verify that operational conditions are met.

Insulation

Different foam thickness around the tank will provide more or less savings in energy and heat waste, efficiency and performance improvement. This is why some manufacturers are designing hot water heaters with 2" inch high quality insulation, while with low efficient heaters you have to use an insulation blanket.

Timer

Installing the electric water heater timer is a great ways to save money on your electric bills and water heating costs. The water heater timer is designed with one goal only; to turn the water heating off during periods when hot water is not used.

Mixing valves

Hot water mixing valves are used in residential water heating; for showering, bathing or hand-washing, to reduce the point of use temperature by mixing hot and cold water in the branch water line.

How to order repair parts

Majority of the above parts are the main components on gas units, while electric appliances are much simpler.

What you should know when ordering gas or electric water heater parts:

  • Have the complete part number and description ready.

  • Have the water heater model, series and serial number ready.

Note: If any part of the water heater has been under water, you should call a qualified service technician. If water heater has been subjected to the flood conditions or any of its component parts including gas controls, main burner, pilot light submerged in water, you should replace the entire water heater.

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