Hot Water Temp at Your Domicile
Seems like all I talk about is water heaters, man. I might even start to bore myself! Who am I kidding, I love to……..read myself write?! I don’t know, doesn’t have the same ring as hear myself talk but you get the picture. This post was actually motivated by a home inspection I did recently. The house had a 40 gallon gas water heater in the furnace room and then a supplemental 12 gallon electric water heater that seemed to supply just the kitchen area. First of all, no clue why someone would do that. A 40 gallon gas hot water heater should have been plenty to supply that size of house for that family (Or a 50 gallon electric. Electric seems to take longer to reheat so it needs that extra 10 gallons). Some contractor must have talked them into it, who knows? Let me quickly back-track and say that I am NOT ripping on contractors! It very well could have been the family who insisted on one despite what the contractor said. Who knows. I am really digressing here because the post has nothing to do about the amount of water heaters, whether they are gas or electric, whateva’. This is really about the temperature of the hot water coming out of those appliances.
As a home inspector, I will always as part of the inspection turn on the hot water only in the kitchen or bath and run it while taking the temperature with my IR thermometer (see Tool Porn-Tool Pick for November in past posts). I want to see it hit no more than 120 degrees. The house I was in recently hit 136 (12 gallon) and 152 degrees (40 gallon)! This was the highest I have ever seen and they had two small children whose skin would be more sensitive to heat. You will not save energy by having your water hotter. Instead you will be holding 40-50 gallons of water at a higher temperature all the time which will use more energy. This is, plain and simple, just a safety hazard. I don’t know, maybe you have some weird religious thing about stoves and you need water to be boiling straight from the tap, if this is the case there isn’t much I can say to you. If on the other hand you would like to keep a couple of layers of skin from sheeting off your body by accidentally getting scalded you might want to adjust the temperature. Where to do this? There is a (usually) red dial on your water heater near the bottom of the water heater tank if it is a gas water heater. If it is electric, the dial is behind a panel which you will need to remove to see. There is usually a recommended level marked with an arrow that the factory determined is the appropriate setting. After testing your water temp you will know whether to go hotter or colder. Another cool thing you could do is set your water heater at the vacation setting if you will be gone o, as the dial says, a vacation. Saves you some dinero while your house is unoccupied since you don’t need the water in the tank to be that warm.
I would love to hear in my comments section what you find out there in the bloggosphere. It was fun to hear that Stuart actually tested my findings in my last insulation article. I’m not above being challenged (If you’re mean about it I might not approve the comment for posting, though. I have a fragile ego. LOL)
Thanks for reading,
That Home Inspector Guy