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How Does a Water Heater Blending Valve Work?

Cold water flows into your water heater. The immersion heater warms that water. When you open the tap, hot water flows out. It’s as simple as that, right? Well not if you have a thermal store water cylinder. The water in the cylinder never actually gets to the tap. If you have a thermal store water heater, the hot water in the store passes through a heat exchanger and returns, after having given-up its heat, back to the thermal store cylinder. The heat exchanger passes the heat from the store to the fresh cold water passing through the heat exchanger from the water main. This high temperature water then enters the blending valve to be mixed with some cold water to ensure that when the water reaches your taps, it does so at the correct temperature.  

The truth is that to safely enjoy hot water at the tap, you need the right equipment. One of those pieces is the blending valve, also called a mixing valve. Not sure what this might be or what it does? It’s a critical element to your family’s comfort and even affects safety.

What Is a Blending Valve?

Simply put, a blending valve is nothing more than a piece of equipment attached to the water heater cylinder that blends a small amount of cold water with the hot water from the heat exchanger in your tank on its way out into the pipes in your home. It blends cold water and hot water, thus the name.

Why Is a Blending Valve Important?

You’ll find that blending valves are critical for several different reasons. We’ll discuss those below:

Safety – One of the most important reasons that you need a blending valve on your water heater cylinder is for safety. Scalding water can cause serious burns and a blending valve reduces the temperature of the water to a safer level. This is particularly important for homes with small children who are more susceptible to higher temperatures.

Prevention – Your water heater cylinder is a prime place for bacteria to breed and thrive. To prevent that, the water must be stored at a high temperature; too high for safety in your home. A blending valve allows you to keep your water at a temperature high enough to kill bacteria while still ensuring that everyone in the home can use the hot water without worry.

Savings – Finally, a blending valve allows you to “stretch” your hot water. Because it may only drop the temperature of the water by a few degrees, you still get good, hot water from the tap. However, you use less heated water than you would without the valve in place. This allows you to save in several ways. First, you save water, which is always good. Second, you save energy, which is also good. Finally, you save money (on both water and energy consumption), which is great.

Do You Have a Blending Valve?

Your cylinder may or may not be equipped with a blending valve. As a general rule unvented water cylinders do not have them and thermal store cylinders do have them, but there are some exceptions and blending valves are, in some cases, now being fitted to unvented cylinders. The only way to make sure you have the benefits offered by this piece of equipment is to have the system inspected by a professionally trained plumber.

At EasyFlow, our plumbers are certified for unvented cylinders, but we’re also happy to help with other plumbing needs, including the installation of blending valves if you currently lack one. The many benefits offered, including greater safety for your little ones, make this a must-have option. Contact us today for more information.