The Safest Temperature Setting for Your Hot Water Heater

Hand rotate temperature adjuster of water heater
If you have small children in your household, you may be concerned about the temperature of the water coming out of your faucets. And rightly so – if your hot water heater is set too high serious burns can happen in the blink of an eye.

Below, we’ve compiled the best recommendations Canadian households can follow to keep your little ones safe around hot water.

Safe Temperature

It used to be standard for hot water heaters to be set to 60 degrees Celsius. Many homes are likely still use this setting—you should check to confirm your current setting.

However, water at this temperature can cause third-degree burns in a matter of seconds. This is especially true with children, who have more delicate and sensitive skin than adults.

We know that providing a safe home for your children is a top priority for every parent. When it comes to your hot water heater temperature, it’s important to listen to the experts who study injury prevention. They recommend the hot water tank in your home be set to 49 degrees Celsius (120 Degrees Fahrenheit) to prevent scalding injuries.

How to Set the Temperature

If the temperature of your hot water heater is set too high follow these steps to lower the current setting.

For Gas Water Heaters:

  • Check the owner’s manual to determine what temperature corresponds to each setting on the dial or digital control because they can vary.
  • Turn the dial clockwise to reduce the temperature to the correct setting, we suggest 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

For electric water heaters:

  • First, locate the breaker for your hot water heater and turn off the power to the hot water heater.
  • Locate the dial or thermostat for the hot water heater (usually behind an insulated panel). Electric models often have two.
  • Use a screwdriver to open the access panel, then use the screwdriver to lower the temperature.
  • If your water heater has two thermostats, make sure to set them both to the same temperature. Again, we suggest 49 C (120 F).
  • Turn the power back on.
  • After you’ve changed your temperature setting it will take some time and hot water use to experience the new temperature of the water. An immersion thermometer can help you confirm the water temperature is safe.

Don’t Go Too Low

You may be tempted to be overly cautious and set your hot water heater to a temperature lower than the recommended 49 degrees Celsius. However, setting the temperature too low doesn’t just mean cold showers. It puts your household at risk in other ways.

This is because, at 49 degrees Celsius, the water is hot enough to kill harmful bacteria from growing in the stagnant water. These bacteria, particularly Legionella, can cause serious diseases.

If your hot water heater temperature is too low, it may become contaminated with Legionella bacteria. If that happens, it can lead to a form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease.

We always recommend listening to the experts and sticking to the recommended temperature setting.

Teach Your Kids

A focus on prevention will go a long way toward protecting your children from hot water burns. After all, there will be times when you’re away from home on vacation or visiting relatives. You can’t be certain that every place you stay with family or friends will have a hot water heater in a safe setting.

  • Show them how each faucet works so they understand which direction is for cold water and which is for hot water.
  • For very small children, explain why they should always get an adult to help them find the right water temperature.
  • For older children, show them how to gradually adjust the faucet, checking to ensure the temperature is comfortable before using it.

Install Anti-Scald Devices

If you want extra reassurance that the temperature of the water in your home isn’t going to harm your youngest family members, you can consider installing a mixing valve.

This device mixes cold water with the outgoing hot water. As a result, the hot water coming out of the fixture will never be hot enough to cause a scalding injury. These devices provide peace of mind for households with young children. Many daycare centers install such devices to protect children from scalding.

The plumbing professionals at Mr. Rooter can install a mixing valve in your home or assist with any of your hot water tank needs. Find your nearest location and give us a call today.