You may want control in raising your water heater temperature in your home for many reasons. Maintaining a higher temperature can help eliminate bacteria like Legionella in your water supply and can allow for longer hot showers. However, extreme caution should be exercised any time you raise temperatures.
Manufacturers recommend that tank style water heaters be set at 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit, because it takes about five minutes of sustained exposure to this water temperature to result in second- or third-degree burns. As you increase the temperature, scalds happen more quickly as follows:
- 120 degrees – five minutes
- 130 degrees – thirty seconds
- 140 degrees – five seconds
- 150 degrees – one and a half seconds
- 160 degrees – half a second
In some areas, your electric or gas company will adjust your water heater temperature free of charge, but they will not set the temperature higher than the manufacturer’s recommended setting. A plumber can also make this adjustment, but also will not set the temperature above the recommended setting without a tempering mixing valve in place on the outlet. If you want to raise the temperature of your water heater yourself, you should understand and accept that you can be held liable for any burns incurred by that water, so it might not be the best idea if you have elderly people, young children, or have frequent guests in your home.
To adjust the thermostat on a gas water heater, consult the owner’s manual. There is usually a dial to make this adjustment on the front of the gas valve, near the bottom of the water heater. Increase by small increments, wait a few hours, then check the temperature at the faucet to determine if the water is hot enough.
On an electric water heater, you need to shut off power to the appliance before opening the access panels to the thermostats. There should be two thermostats and a screwdriver slot to make the temperature adjustment, usually directly under the heating elements. Again, make small adjustments, wait a few hours and recheck the temperature at the faucet. Be sure to close the access panels before restoring power to the heater.
If you have concerns for your hot water or heater, be sure to contact Brian Wear Plumbing today! We’ll be sure to professionally adjust to your needs and do it safely.