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How to Turn Your Water Heater Temperature Down

There is nothing worse than being burned- by hot water in your shower of course. After a long day of work, you want a nice hot shower. However, too hot can be just as much of a problem as too cold. If you noticed that the slightest adjustment to the water nozzles in your bathtub can send your shower from lukewarm to molten lava, you may need to turn down the temperature on your water heater. Not only is water that’s too hot incredibly unpleasant, but it can also be dangerous. If this is a problem you’re experiencing, you’ll want to take care of it ASAP. Follow the steps below to learn how:

Why hot water can be dangerous


Before we get into how you can turn down the temperature on your water heater, let’s take a look at why water that is too hot can be dangerous.


Shower water that is too hot can burn your skin


According to CPSC, Most adults will suffer third-degree burns if exposed to 150-degree water for two seconds. The recommended temperature for hot water is 120 degrees, but even continuous exposer to that for five minutes can result in third-degree burns. It’s important to be extremely conscious of how hot your water is running to avoid an expensive and painful visit to the hospital.


You want guests visiting your home to be comfortable showering


If your water heater is running too hot and has been for a while, you likely know how to finagle the water to have a comfortable shower. Any guests who stay with you won’t have that same experience. Not being able to set a safe water temperature in your shower and getting any degree of burns would put a damper on their visit with you.


A water heater that is set too high can run up your electricity bill


Roughly 17% of your energy bill is attributed to the energy it takes to heat your hot water. If your water heater is set too high, you’re wasting electricity and money. For every 10 degrees you turn your water heater down, you can save about 5% on your electricity bill. Turning down your water heater is a benefit to both your safety and your bank account.


How to adjust your water heater thermostat


Before you do any adjusting, you need to first check the current temperature. Run hot water from the faucet closest to the water heater. While the water is running, calibrate your thermometer by holding it in a glass of ice water until the gauge goes down to scale)32 degrees (or the lowest degree on the scale). This helps balance the thermometer to get an accurate reading. Once it’s calibrated and the hot water has been running for a few minutes, fill a cup with the water and place the thermometer in the cup- this will tell you what temperature your water heater is set at.


Adjusting the temperature in electric water heaters

  • Step 1: Turn off the power running to the water heater. You may need to do this using your circuit breaker.
  • Step 2: Find the access panel, this will conceal the thermostat. You will likely need to unscrew them to reveal the thermostat.
  • Step 3: Locate the dials on the thermostat (your heater may have two thermostats, and you may need to remove insulation to access them).
  • Step 4: Read the dials to determine which direction to turn them to make them cooler. Use a screwdriver to slightly turn the dials to adjust them, and be sure you are adjusting both dials the same amount if you have two.
  • Step 5: Close the panels and turn the electricity back on for the heater. Wait a few hours, then test the water again and repeat if necessary until your water is at the perfect temperature.


Adjusting the temperature on gas water heaters

  • Step 1: Locate the temperature knob on your water heater
  • Step 2: Turn the knob slightly to adjust the temperature.
  • Step 3: Test the water again in a few hours, repeat until it’s your perfect temperature.

Photo of a gas water heater

Image of a gas water heater knob you can adjust to raise and lower the temperature of your water heater
How to know if you have a bigger problem than the temperature knobs


There are a few situations when it may not be as easy as adjusting the knobs on your water heater to turn the hot water temperature down. If you’ve tried adjusting your water heater temperature and the problem isn’t solved, one of these things may be the issue:

  • The heating element bolts may be loose
  • A gasket in the heater could be broke
  • A broken temperature and pressure relief valve
  • A nearby leak

For these situations, and if you’re experiencing sudden fluctuations in temperature, it’s best to call a professional to help investigate and fix the issue. BEST Plumbing has been the best in Cincinnati for over 30 years- we’re the people to call to fix any problems you’re having with your hot water!
 

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