It was named the Geyser after the type of hot spring called a geyser. Geysir, the original spring in question, is a gushing, extremely hot spring in Haukadalur, Iceland. The name comes from the Old Norse verb "geysa," which means to gush. Half of the roughly one thousand geysers that exist all over the world are in Yellowstone National Park, so if you ever want to go see one, Yellowstone is probably the best place to go.
Anyway, Maughan's Geyser aimed to gush out hot water, albeit in a much more organized way than the springs in Iceland or Wyoming. A burner at the bottom of the heater heated up gases, which in turn heated
wires that went up to the top of the tank where cold water entered. The cold water was then heated by the wires, and once hot, then flowed into pipes that went to the sink, the tub, or wherever one wanted the hot water to go. In 1872, the Journal of the Society of Arts (volume 20, p. 918) explained how Maughan's Patent Geyser worked:
|Geyser in Iceland (Wikimedia Commons)|
Unfortunately, Mr. Maughan had not made any provision for ventilating the gases out of the house, so it definitely wasn't a perfect heater. Later in the Victorian era, other inventors such as Edwin Ruud, an American engineer, built on Maughan's work to create better (and safer) water heaters. And of course today, water heaters are marvels of safety and efficiency; you don't have to tinker with metal cones and geysers, either.
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