How to Adjust Your Water Heater’s Temperature

Be safeā€”keep the water heater temperature setting at 120 degrees F.

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At What Temperature Should a Water Heater Be Set?

Turns out, even plain old tap water can be dangerous. Several people (mostly children) are sent to hospitals each year with burns caused by water heaters that are set too high. But what does “too high” really mean, and how can homeowners make sure that their water heaters are set a temperature that won’t burn them?

Well, the EPA recommends a hot temperature setting of 120-degrees F for both safety and energy-saving purposes. But finding that setting on the water heater temperature setting dial isn’t easy, because most dials aren’t labeled with numbers. If the stickers on the water heater don’t tell you how to set the temperature and you can’t find the owner’s manual, use this method:

  1. Run hot water at the tap closest to the water heater for at least three minutes.
  2. Fill a glass and check the hot temperature.
  3. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait about three hours and check again.
  4. Repeat until you get 120-degree F water.

For a final test, check the water heater temperature the following morning before anyone uses any hot water. Make a mark on the dial once you find the correct setting so that you don’t have to go through this testing process again.

Here are more ways you can extend the life of your water heater.

water heater temperatureFamily Handyman

Thinking about upgrading to a tankless water heater? Here are the pros and cons: