The invention of the first water heater in History is generally attributed to a man from England named Benjamin Maugham.
Benjamin was a decor painter by profession. As an inquisitive and creative person, he must have spent time outdoors admiring nature´s wonders. On one such occasion, while visiting some thermal site, the sight of a hot spring jet bursting up in the air may have given him the Eureka idea for the creation of his own Gas Geyser.
In 1868, Benjamin Maugham invented and patented the first boiler. It consisted of an iron furnace fuelled by gas. The water from the mains would be heated by the burner´s flames and stored in the hot water tank. When a faucet was open, hot water would come out.
The boiler must have made a lot of noise turning on, thus deserving to be named the “Gas Geyser”.
Perhaps Maugham did not think about all the technical details -as he was not an engineer — and the Gas Geyser did not become popular or commercial in his days. One of the reasons being that not having a proper ventilation system or temperature regulator, would make it unsafe and even dangerous.
In 1889, an engineer from Norway by the name of Edwin Ruud –who had emigrated to the US with his family–,found out about Maugham´s Gas Geyser and decided to make some adjustments and additions, improve it and commercialize it. He manufactured a cast iron gas combi boiler with a heat exchanger made out of copper. When the tap was open, a valve would turn the heater´s burners and the water from the mains would be instantly heated and delivered thru the tap into the sink or tub without being previously stored in the hot water tank.
This convenient invention was then patented by Ruud. Soon he succeeded in commercializing it and many households were installing it in their lofts, basements or kitchens. It was becoming popular and the demand was so high that only 10 years later, Ruud opened his own company in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
The Ruud Manufacturing Company went on to become the leader in water heating appliances and other products. He manufactured different water heaters that were suited for domestic and commercial use.
Having gas central heating in the house became the trend of his days. Now, more than one hundred years later, the Ruud Company is still operational and competitive in the USA amongst many other combi boiler companies.