History of water heaters | Water Heater Pros | Sacramento, Ca

History of Water Heaters

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Life is not the same with the invention and use of hot water heaters

It is hard to imagine living without immediate access to hot water; but some people do it every day, and hot water heaters were not always a part of everyday existence. Here are some more interesting facts about the history of water heaters.


  • Before hot water heaters, people had to find natural ways to heat water, such as fire and hot springs.


  • The Romans produced hot water more than 1800 years ago, we'll talk more about that later on.


  • It was not until 1889 that Edwin Rudd invented the automatic storage water heater, which is what most of us are familiar with today.


  • In 1896, Clarence Kemp took things one step further with his solar paneled heating. This type of hot water heating utilizes solar panels for heating the water – a popular choice in sunny areas of the world.


  • In 1960's, the modern tankless hot water heater as we know it was introduced. This type of water heater heats the water inside copper or brass coils and known as a heat exchanger – no more storage tanks of heated water needed.


  • The heated circulation system was introduced in 1970's, providing pre-heated water circulated throughout your home to meet your needs on-demand.


Bet you didn't know?
  • 12 – the average lifespan in years of a tank-type storage water heater.

  • 25 – the average lifespan in years of a tankless water heater.

  • 64 – average gallons of water used by a person per day.

  • 400-600 – the average number of dollars a family spends each year to heat their water.


Knowing the history of water heaters and some other fun facts should help you have a greater appreciation of this most-handy appliance in your home. Without it, you would be stuck using natural resources to heat your water.


Before the invention of the water heater, hot water was time-consuming luxury. Anyone wanting a hot bath had to heat the water in small batches over an open fire or a stove and transfer them one bucket at a time to a bathtub.


First Instantaneous Water Heater

In 1868, a British decorative painter named Benjamin Waddy Maughan patented the first instantaneous water heater for household use.


Maughan's Geyser

Called the "gas geyser" Maughan's invention employed natural gas to heat the water as it flowed into the bathtub. The guyser didn't have a flue for venting gas vapors, so it was dangerous to use.


First Automatic Storage Water Heater

Maughan's design inspired mechanical engineer Edwin Ruud, a Norwegian immigrant to the United States, who patented his automatic storage water heater in 1889.


Ruud's Invention

Ruud's water heater was a gas-heated, cast iron appliance with a copper heat exchanger. When the bather opened a water faucet, an actuator valve turned on the heater's burners.


Ruud's Success

In 1897, Rudd opened a company in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania devoted to making domestic and commercial water heaters. The Ruud Manufacturing Company became an industry leader in water heating products and is the oldest American water heater company.

Americans first starting seeing the Ruud modern water heater around 1898, popularity was slow coming as Americans were skeptical of such a devise, it wasn't too long before indoor automatic hot water heaters were a welcome site. Erwin Ruud made this all possible with his invention while working for Mr. Westinghouse in the late 1800's as an apprentice, he invented the actuator valve, this was a devise that would open and close due to water pressure in a pipe and connected to the actuator valve, this invention by Mr. Ruud made it all work, as the pressure dropped in the pipe as the faucet handle was moved to turn on hot water, the actuator valve would open allowing hot water under pressure to flow to the faucet, and now you know how it all got started, here is a news article titled "Decanter Can't Quit" talking about sales of the Ruud #25 as shown from a 1917 publication.

Bet you didn't know?

Why is the hot water valve always on the left?

Because cold water was all that was available prior to the invention of the water heater, the first plumbing in a home was a water pump at the kitchen sink and since most people are right handed it only seemed practical to place the pump on the right side of the sink that was made by hand pounding and forming a sheet of copper into a sink with a lead drain pipe leading outside, when it was time to install a hot water faucet, the only place to put it was on the left side of the sink, so now you know why hot water is always on the left and cold on the right.

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Romans Produced Hot Water, more than 1800 Years ago!
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Hundreds of slaves working through the day and night burning wood in 50 brick ovens to ensure the water was hot 24 hours a day. Just one of these ancient ovens that helped supply 15 gallons of water a second were found in Ancient Rome through tunnels underground.

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One of the brick ovens that kept hot water pumping into the ancient baths of Caracalla, Rome (pictured) 1,800 years ago is now on display for the first time.

The steamy secret to how the Romans ran a piping hot bath: Slaves burnt tonnes of wood in 50 brick ovens that kept water in the ancient Baths of Caracalla warm 24 hours a day

  • Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy, were built under Emperor Caracalla in 216AD

  • At time, supplied 15 gallons of water a second and accommodated 5,000 people

  • Directors have opened a section of tunnels with oven heating baths for first time

In the modern world, most of us wouldn't give a second thought to the source of the hot water running through our taps. And neither did the 5,000 Romans using the Baths of Caracalla everyday more than 1,800 years ago - but if they had, the steamy secret was being kept right under their feet.  


Hundreds of slaves working through the night burnt tonnes of wood in 50 brick ovens to ensure the water was hot 24 hours a day, reports the Times. Now one of these ancient ovens that helped supply 15 gallons (70 litres) of water a second through tunnels underground is going on display for the first time. Director Marina Piranomonte told the Times: 'This is the technological heart of the baths. Everyone should see it — not just academics with torches.' 


The Terme di Caracalla was built in 216AD while Emperor Caracalla ruled, and remained in use cleaning 5,000 Romans every day until 537AD when it was closed. It was closed after the Ostrogoths destroyed the aqueducts supplying water to the baths.

Contemporary descriptions of the grand structure mention marble columns, floors, mosaics of glass and hundreds of statues. Unfortunately, the marble was eventually stripped away but the site is still one of the best preserved ancient spa complexes left.

The pools were kept at 40C (104F) by nearly two miles worth of lead pipes underground - which may have got into the water.

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Old boiler: The world's first central heating system on display as -- Ancient boilers from Pompeii, the partially-buried Roman settlement near Naples in southern Italy.

Ancient Roman boiler from Pompeii. It was used to produce hot water while resting on an iron tripod. Bathtubs, boilers and the world's first underfloor heating System.

Recreated Pompeii villa gives rare insight into Roman life a Roman villa had technological innovations like a boiler that warms bathwater Pompeii. The exhibition "Pompei: The Art of Living" at Musee Maillol in Paris has been set up as a Roman villa, built around a garden atrium, offering a composite look at the decor of a Pompeian domus. Ancient boilers found from Pompeii, the partially-buried Roman settlement near Naples in southern Italy.


Water heaters have become a ubiquitous part of the modern housing in the industrialized world. However, prior to the industrialization, water heaters were a luxury. Electric water heaters became available during the Industrial Revolution.



Who invented the first electric water heater was non other than Norwegian-American engineer Edwin Ruud in 1889.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

The storage tank heater, still the most common type of water heater still in use in the united states, heats a supply of water and stores it for later use. Newspaper advertisements in 1945 suggest that an "automatic gas or electric water heater" could help keep a constant flow of hot water to the home.


Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, are commonly used in Europe and much of Asia, they use a series of tubes running through electric elements to heat only the amount of water needed for a particular purpose. the first electric tankless water heater was invented by Stiebel-Eltron in 1929.

by Sharon J. Rehana



In 1889, George Eastman began selling his Kodak flexible roll film for the first time; the World’s Fair opened in Paris with the completed Eiffel Tower; Daniel Stover and William Hance patented a bicycle with the back-pedal brake; and Edwin Rudd, a Norwegian mechanical engineer and inventor who immigrated to the U.S., was awarded a patent for his design of a tankless water heater.  It had a cast iron body with a copper heat exchanger, and his patent was on a gas actuator valve, which turned on the burner when a water faucet was opened.  


Things have changed since then.  Today, tankless water heaters are used throughout most of the world, and have gained significant popularity in North America.  They last longer than tanked heaters, provide hot water when and for as long as it’s needed, and will save consumers money each month because they reduce the amount of energy used.   


Dating from about 1895, this royal British water heater is gas fired. It was installed in the bathroom next to the bathtub. Shower were virtually non-existent. To Operate, you light the pilot, turn on the water, then turn on it's gas valve.

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Be Careful

Temperature is adjusted by putting in the right amount of cold water. When shutting the water heater off you had to be very careful not to shut off the water before turning off the gas. If you did forget, the heater would quickly be ruined, probably melted down!


Shepherd's Crook

The heater works by mixing hot gases and water, which although very efficient, wasn't particularly clean. British heaters had an interesting safety devise built in that you can see on the side of it. The "shepherd's crook" actually makes an air gap in the water supply. This prevents any tainted water from the heater from possibly getting back into the water supply, (a rather modern concept). The slightly tainted hot water was to be used only for bathing. This heater burns roughly 100,000 BTU per hour.


One of the Best Water Heaters Ever Made

History of the Hoyt Water Heater Company





















Hoyt water heater history sources: 


Hoyt or "Hoyt" produced water heaters in the Los Angeles California area from 1911 until 1989 when the company was purchased by AMERICAN WATER HEATER. 


Hoyt & its predecessors in name manufactured, sold, repaired & serviced in Los Angeles and other areas of California beginning 1911 under the trade name of Hoyt Heater Company. Hoyt water heaters were produced and sold under these trade names: 


Hoyt C.H. Co., Hoyt C.H. Automatic Water Heater Repair Service and Supply Co., Hoyt Automatic Water Heater Company, A.A. Automatic Hoyt A-1 Water Heating Co., Automatic Hoyt Hot Water Heater Repair Service Co.


The last corporate filing we found for the Hoyt Heater Company was a Statement & Designation by Foreign Corporation in the State of California. Hoyt Water Heater company has not been active since April 14, 1981, as recorded in documents filed with California Secretary of State. 















Following its operations in Los Angeles California, the last known address for Hoyt was 50 W. Liberty St., Reno NV 89501. Do not attempt to contact the company at that address as it is no longer current. Stead Company who absorbed Hoyt filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy ca 18 August 1988 according to The Reno Gazette-Journal cited below. 


HOYT HEATER COMPANY was incorporated on 14 Apr 1981 as Foreign Stock company type registered at 50 W LIBERTY ST, RENO, NV 89505. The jurisdiction for this foreign stock company is NEVADA. The agent’s name of this company is: C T CORPORATION SYSTEM, and company's status is listed as SOS/FTB Forfeited. 


























Hoyt water heater history sources: 

Hoyt, Adrian H. "Electric shunt connection." U.S. Patent 1,046,465 issued December 10, 1912.

Hoyt, Robert C. "Electric liquid heater." U.S. Patent 1,727,881 issued September 10, 1929. 

It is an object of my invention to provide a generally improved electric liquid heater. 

It is an object of my invention to provide for greater heating capacity than has heretofore been common in electric water heaters; and to provide this increased capacity with minimum overall dimension of heating member.

lt is an object of my invention to design a compact heating member for electric heaters in general, and for water heaters in particular; and it is a further object of my invention to design a water heater best adapted to incorporated such a member.

It will be understood of course, that compactness of an electric heating member is limited by difficulties of effective heat transfer therefrom.

It is an object of my invention to provide a relatively small heat ing member having a large exposed surface; particularly a maximum of outwardly-directed exposed radiating surface, whereby heat transfer is facilitated. 

It is an object of my invention to prevent destructive overheating of the electric heating units of a heater; especially of a water heater.

Hoyt, R.C., "Automatic Water Heater Valve", U.S. Patent 1,595,400, August 10, 1926
Excerpt: My invention relates to automatic water heaters, and it has special reference to such heaters in which a valve mechanism, controlled by the differential of water pressure caused by the turning on and off of service faucets, is provided for actuating the gas valve mechanism of the heater.


Hoyt, Reginald H. "Apparatus for manufacturing electrical condensers." U.S. Patent 1,715,035 issued May 28, 1929.


Hoyt, Robert C. "Automatic water-heater control valve." U.S. Patent 1,786,948 issued December 30, 1930.

Excerpt: ... invention relates to improvements in mechanism operative to ‘control the supply of fluid fuel to the burner of an automatic water heater and particularly to mechanism C. Hoyt, No. 1,595,400, dated August 10, 1926, in which a fuel. supply Valve .is arranged to be directly operated by a differential piston which is automatically actuated in accordance with the turning on and off of service faucets.


Hoyt, Leroy W. "Water compensator for forced flow water system including an expansion tank." U.S. Patent 2,901,176 issued August 25, 1959.


Hoyt Heater Co. v. Hoyt, Civ. No. 14815. Second Dist., Div. Two. Mar. 27, 1945 

original source: https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/68/523.html


Hoyt Heater Co. v. Hoyt, Civ. No. 14815. Second Dist., Div. Two. Mar. 27, 1945 [PDF], retrieved 2018/03/08, original source: https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/68/523.html


Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno Nevada, 18 August 1988, p. 26, retrieved 2018/03/08, original source: https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/152845296/

Excerpts below: Stead company seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Hoyt plant has a "skeleton crew," still making heaters, she said. The firm's executives hope to keep the business running by selling some assets to generate revenue, she said. Hoyt management contends its financial problems occurred after State Industries Inc., another heater manufacturer, violated California antitrust laws, said Richard Horton, another attorney representing the Nevada company. 














Hoyt contends State allegedly sold heaters at prices lower than production costs, deeply cutting into its sales market, he said. One year ago, Hoyt filed suit in Federal District Court in San Francisco against State, the largest California distributor of hot water heaters, Horton said. State, which has headquarters in Ashland City, Term., at the same time filed suit against Hoyt in Reno federal court. State's suit contends Hoyt is using a process the Tennessee firm patented, but the Nevada company denies it, Horton said.

No State executives could be reached to comment at that company's Tennessee offices late Wednesday. In the pending suits, both companies seek more than $10,000 from each other and attorneys' fees, Horton said.

Interviewed by the Gazette-Journal in March 1984, Dan Lannes said Hoyt made 1,200 models of gas, electric and solar water heaters for various businesses and industrial developers.

A voluntary petition was filed Aug. 10 in Reno Federal Bankruptcy Court by Stead Industries, Inc., doing business as Hoyt Heater Co. The document says that as of June 30, 1988, Hoyt had assets of $13.7 million and the same amount of liabilities. The petition says two creditors are owed secured debt of $6.7 million, and 347 creditors t , l ii i : - i By Wayne Melton Gaiette -Joumal 

Hoyt Heater Co., a Stead hot water heater maker that contends it is a victim of a major competitor violating antitrust laws, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. 

Hoyt's 100,000-square-foot plant remains open at 14290 Lear Blvd. The 78-year-old company moved to Stead from Oakland, Calif., in 1982. Its personnel manager, David Luther, declined comment on the bankruptcy. Earlier this month he said Hoyt employed 200. Co-owners Dan and Stephen Lannes could not be reached for comment. 

Hoyt's bankruptcy attorney, Jennifer Smith Flangas, said there have been a number of recent layoffs, but she doesn't know how many. Some or all laid-off workers will be rehired as needed, she said. 

... Hoyt reported it has three stockholders and 12,835 common stock shares. ... Dan Lannes, board chairman, and Stephen Lannes each directly or indirectly owns, controls or holds 20 percent or more of voting securities, the document says. The exact amount each owns was not listed. Hoyt listed 20 creditors with the largest unsecured claims. Topping the list is Robertshaw-Grayson Division of Long Beach, Calif., which is owed $1.12 million.

Other top creditors and amounts they're owed include: Nichimen American, Inc., of San Francisco, $509,000; Willamette Industries of Cerritos, Calif., $382,600; Punch Press Products of Los Angeles, $354,000; and California Steel Industries of Pasadena, Calif., $246,500. 

The petition says Hoyt has filed no previous bankruptcies.

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