Electric and gas water heater temperatures are usually set at the factory. The good news is that you can adjust them to suit your preferences within a few minutes. However, you should also note that adjusting your water heater temperatures too high could lead to severe consequences. Apart from burns, high water heater temperatures will lead to escalating utility bills. On the other hand, lowering the temperatures to certain levels can lead to bacterial infection. The most important thing is to strike a balance between high and low.
Checking Water Heater Temperature
Most water heaters on the market today lack a temperature gauge. Instead, they are fitted with a thermostat that only indicates heating temperature ranges. To determine the water heater temperature, you just need a cooking thermometer and a cup. For best results, allow your water heater to remain idle for at least one hour. After the lapse of 60 minutes, turn on any faucet close to the water heater. Allow water to flow for at least one minute, while ensuring it’s at maximum temperature. Let it fill the cup and then insert a thermometer. Adjust the temperatures as desired.
Recommended Temperature Settings
According to OSHA, water heater temperatures should be set at 140 degrees. On the other hand, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends 120 degrees, to minimize power consumption. Lowering the heater to 120 degrees also allows it to acquire sanitizing temperatures. Whether to use 120 or 140 degrees is a matter of personal preference. However, if you have small children, then it’s advisable to use 120 degrees to prevent burns and scalding. On the other hand, if you want to clean and sanitize household appliances, then you should adjust to 140 degrees. Setting water heater temperatures to 130 degrees is ideal. The water will be hot enough for sanitization purposes but low enough to prevent burns.
How to Adjust Water Heater Temperatures
If your water heater is not delivering water at your preferred temperatures, then you simply need to adjust it. You only need a socket, small wrench, and a screwdriver. However, you should also note that water heater thermostats are factory preset to a certain temperature. Therefore, adjusting them upwards can lead to serious burns.
Electric Water Heaters: Before anything else, you should turn off the circuit breaker. Proceed by removing all the access panels. You will find the thermostat adjustment under the insulation. Using the screwdriver, turn the thermostat control towards the direction of your desired temperature and then replace the panels and the insulation. Switch on the circuit breaker and give your water heater some time to adjust to the new temperatures.
Gas Water Heaters: Most gas water heaters come with a setting knob, which you can use to adjust to your preferred temperatures. If you want to increase the temperatures, then you should turn the knob towards the Hot’ setting. On the other hand, the Vacation’ setting doesn’t heat water.
The Risks of Insufficiently Hot Water
Every year, close to 100 Americans are hospitalized for a type of bacterial infection caused by domestic water heaters. This stain of pneumonia is called Legionnaire’s disease. It mainly affects the elderly, children and individuals with a weak immune system. It normally attacks the immune system through the respiratory tract especially when people are taking a shower. Just like other forms of bacteria, Legionella bacteria thrive in stagnant water below 500C. Therefore, maintaining your water at 600C helps to prevent the growth of these bacteria while minimizing the risk of Legionnaire’s disease. It’s therefore important to adhere to this rule always. If the tank’s temperature is maintained at 120 degrees and above, the odds of contracting this disease are minimal.
To ensure your water temperature is not too high or too low, it’s advisable to install a temperature regulator in your water heater. A thermostatic mixing valve or a temperature regulator is normally installed to the water heater outlet. It then allows you to set standard water temperature. The device will then mix and cold water automatically, thus helping to achieve the desired temperature. The temperature regulator is compatible with almost all water heaters on the market. It goes for approximately $150. You can also install a point-of-use temperature regulator on shower outlets or faucets. They cost approximately $10 to $50.