How Hot is the Water at Your Faucets?

When I was a kid I can remember water being boiled on the wood cook stove in the Kitchen to make the hot water we would expect to get from a hot water heater today.

We do everything in our power today to have all the hot water we could ever want—-whenever we want—wherever we want.  We must still be careful to not let the water get TOO hot.

Human skin is comfortable in a relatively narrow range of temperatures without being damaged. Normal skin temperature is usually around 91 degrees. According to the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) there are more than 3800 scalding injuries and 34 deaths per year from tap water that is set too high. Most of these injuries involve children under five and the elderly.

Chart of water temperatures and scalding

Chart of water temperatures and scalding

Washington State Home Inspectors are required by our Standards of  Practice to state in the written report whether we tested the water temperature or not and to state that the recommended water temperature should not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure your water temperature is not set higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have enough hot water at that temperature, you either need more supply (bigger tank) or some sort of temperature regulator (tempering valve) on the system so that the tank temperature can be set higher while delivering 120 degree water where you need it.

There are some advantages to keeping the water in the tank above 130 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the growth of some types of bacteria—including Legionella—making a tempering valve a wise choice.  This also creates a greater supply of hot water by having a higher temperature of water to dilute down to 120 degrees.

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