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What Should I Set My Water Heater Temperature To?

What Should I Set My Water Heater Temperature To?

  • Water Heaters

A surprise cold shower is never fun, but neither is one that scalds your skin. This is why it’s so important to choose the right temperature for your water heater to heat up to. However, you’re not just trying to balance comfort and heat; there are bacterial concerns to think about as well. Keeping the temperature low yet comfortable can keep you and your family from being scalded, but higher temperatures are more capable of killing off bacteria. If you want an expert’s opinion, Alliance Plumbing can give you that knowledge.

How to adjust my water heater’s temperature

Water heaters can have different ways to adjust the temperature depending on the model and fuel type, but they’re all pretty similar. For electric models with a tank and newer gas models, look for the controls behind an insulated access panel. Also, electric models may have the temperature controls on the top/bottom of the tank. With tankless models, you just have to find the temperature readout, which will have the controls on there. Always make sure you test the water’s temperature after you change it. To do that, hold a thermometer under a sink’s running water for a minute when it’s set to be as hot as it can go.

Determining the best temperature

There are two “optimal” temperatures, but which one you want depends on certain factors. 120°F, the temperature suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy, is good at preventing scalding. At this temperature, it takes about a minute of exposure for the water to cause damage. This temperature is especially useful in homes with children or seniors, both of which are more susceptible to scalding. Also, lowering your temperature to 120°F causes your water heater to use less energy to heat the water. This can help you save some money on energy bills and extend the water heater’s lifespan. You shouldn’t go any lower than this, though, or you’ll have problems with bacteria.

The second recommended temperature, as suggested by OSHA, is the default water heater temperature of 140°F. At this temperature, your water will be safe from just about all bacteria. While most bacteria will die off at 120°F, bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s Disease is slightly more durable. 140°F is more capable of scalding, but it’s certain to wipe out LD bacteria. In most cases, you’ll find the bacteria in older water systems or water storage systems that are either outdoors or let water stagnate.

So what’s the best option for your home? In most cases, LD bacteria are uncommon enough that 120° is the safer choice. However, if you know your home is at-risk for LD or someone living there has a compromised or sensitive immune system, go with 140°F. In these cases, it’s also a good idea to look at anti-scald devices to protect the children and seniors in your home.


What makes Alliance a trustworthy source on managing my water heater temperature?

Owner Kelly Caudel is a second-generation master plumber. Growing up in a plumbing family, his father is also a master plumber. The Caudel family are residents of the greater Clear Lake Area and have been providing professional plumbing work for decades. We’re lifelong citizens and we love our community! We hire and train the best local talent. We know that by providing the best in customer service and technical training to our plumbers, you get the best product, which makes us the best choice. By choosing Alliance Plumbing Services, you are supporting a local small business and building local jobs in our community.  Your issue will be fixed right, RIGHT AWAY! When you call us, we answer the phone or return your call as soon as possible. We understand that it can be stressful when you have a problem with your plumbing. Call us today to learn more about our services!

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