CAN WATER HEATERS BE IMPROVED?
The plumbing profession, retailers and manufactures have a role to play in creating a safe and conservation protective water heater. The Government, Health Authorities and Building Officials have been working with regulations and methods to preserve water and to provide clean, safe drinking water systems. Implementation of new water conservation technologies in the water distribution system has resulted in changes in such areas as:
• New piping materials
• Lead free connections
• Greater volume of water
• Higher pressure municipal water supply
• Positive backflow prevention
• Electronic pass-by readers for water meters
The implementation of these new technologies has had a great impact on all current water infra- structures in residential and commercial plumbing systems. However the design of the standard upright water heater has not kept up with these changes. Current water heater design does not address thermal expansion within a closed system. Nor is the issue of the burner height requirement imposed by municipal and state codes addressed, which require installation of a stand to raise the water heater to a safer height away from any errant heavier-than-air explosive vapors. Another fault of the current common design is that the equipment offers no leak collection protection. Subsequently requiring the installation of a pan beneath the unit. Finally, the current faulty design is wasteful due to common repeated loss of water through the temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve).
A new design of thermal expansion water heater has been invented to correct the faults of the prior design. The new design includes a built-in expansion tank and a safer heightened ignition source raised to a position which conforms to regulatory requirements in a simple unit with very little visual changes to today's existing manufactured equipment.
The new design provides a safer heightened ignition and burning chamber that is well above 18-inches from the base to minimize the risk of fire due to any occurring flammable vapors from nearby sources. The unit also offers upper directional combustion airflow for increased safety. New vent cap design providing a positive locking position, which minimizes risk of cap disconnection and release of combustion gasses and carbon monoxide. By integrating a thermal expansion tank within the water heater unit, many of the problems of the prior design are eliminated.
One problem which is common with prior design water heaters is the effect of thermal expansion upon the pressure relief valve. Prior designs periodically dump over pressured plumbing system water out through the relief valve. This new design eliminates over usage of the pressure relief valve, and no water is discharged until there is truly a need for protection of the system. This adjustment alone, conserves millions of gallons of water daily by correcting losses due to the thermal expansion problem.
Another important design consideration that this new patent offers is consistency with existing equipment size specifications. The new design will fit into the same area as the majority of existing units, making replacement a snap. No more need for water heater stands, expansion tanks, and drip pans. Since the units no longer need to be raised to the top of the stand, there will be minimal risk of personal injuries to the installers. The integral drip pan offers additional protection to property due to the prevention of water damage from spillage.
Additional to the safety features of this design and the savings on installation cost, the thermal expansion control water heater will benefit the consumer. Installation costs will be lessoned, since there are no major changes to existing plumbing or vent systems. The equipment will extends the life of the water heater tank (Thermal expansion can brake the inner glass liner of a water heater tank). There are also savings on repair to plumbing fixtures such as faucets, toilet valves, and piping affected by high water pressure. Also savings on insurance costs due to property damage protection clauses.
The new water heater design will benefit manufacturers and retailers alike. For the manufacturers, the new design does not increase production cost since modular design features are consistent with the current design. However, by supplying a new safer product that incorporates an integral expansion tank, a heightened burner location, and a upward directional intake, the manufacturer insures that liability issues created by the existing faulty design are cured. The new patent design is applicable to all types of water heaters including gas and electric models. Easy packing and handling as current design water heaters. For the retailer, the increases in sales due market innovation, upscale design and reliability will ensure customer satisfaction and bottom line increases. The new design meets national plumbing codes requirements including BOCA, CABO, IAPMO, NSPC, and SBCCI.