Exploring Emergency Plumbing Services

What You Need to Know About Temperature and Your Hot Water Heater

by April Rivera

Hot water is truly a modern miracle that few would want to live without, but there is sometimes too much of a good thing. Make sure to understand the basics of water heater temperature, as well as how to spot a potential problem.

Optimum Temperature Range

The goal is to have water hot enough for a relaxing shower or to clean dishes, but not so hot as to cause burns or discomfort when the tap is turned on. Further, the temperature needs to be hot enough to kill any bacteria that may try to grow in the tank. The optimum temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit simply because this is hot enough to kill bacteria and clean, but not so hot as to cause injury.

Setting the Temperature 

Fortunately, it's relatively simple to set the temperature on most water heater models. There is typically a metal box located somewhere on the exterior of the tank. There will be a red, black, or white dial on this box. You can simply rotate the dial to the desired temperature. Most dials will be listed in Fahrenheit. If for some reason your dial is in Celsius, set the dial to 48 to 50 degrees. A few models may not list specific temps. If this is the case, then choose the "warm" setting. Some water heater models may feature a digital thermostat instead of a dial.

Overly Hot Water

Sometimes the water from your tap may feel way too hot, even after adjusting the dial. First, if you just lowered the setting give the tank some time for the water to cool. If the water is still too hot, the thermostat or heating elements may be failing. In this case, you will need to bring in a plumber to test these components. A repair or a replacement of the malfunctioning components may be necessary.

Failure to Heat

Overly cold water may fix itself if you just turned the temperature up. Wait an hour or two after adjusting the thermostat to see if the water reaches the desired temperature. If it doesn't, the most likely problem is a failed heating element. Elements can burn out over time, but they can also stop working if they become covered in hard water deposits. A plumber can replace the malfunctioning element and solve the problem.

If you are having issues with the temperature of the water in your home, contact a hot water repair service for more help.