Hot Water Heaters and Scalding - How to Minimize The Risk

I remember a story a customer asking me about hot water heaters and scalding. You see their young son was scalded when he was

Hot Water Heater Scalding

Scalding and Thermal shock are a reason for concern

quite young and sitting on the kitchen counter to brush his teeth before going to bed. He turned on the water to dip his toothbrush, but accidentally turned the hot water on instead of the cold. He burned his hand and the gut reaction by mom and dad was to rush down to the basement and turn down the temperature on the water heater.

We understand this reaction; no one wants to be scalded, especially not their child or elderly parent or relative, but not everyone is aware of the health issues involved by lowering the temperature or that there are other, better solutions available.

Water Heaters Need to Be Set At Higher Temperatures to Kill Certain Bacteria


Your water heater is your first line of defense

In the U.S., most water heaters have a set temperature of 120 degrees. The American Society of Sanitary Engineering recommends setting the temperature of water heaters to between 130 – 140 degrees to stop the growth of bacteria, specifically Legionella Pnumophila, or Legionnaires’ Disease, a potentially fatal lung disease commonly misdiagnosed as pneumonia. This is especially true of electric Water Heaters. However, many parents of young children, fearing scalding, are tempted or instructed to lower the temperature below 120 degrees. This can be very harmful to the health of your family. There are other options to ensure that there will not be any issues with scalding that won’t affect your- family’s health.

Make Sure The Shower Valves in Your House Protect You From Scalding

Consider installing an anti-scald device. There are three types:

  • thermostatic mixing valves
  • pressure balancing valves
  • temperature-limiting devices.

Therefore, as you can see, there are better solutions than lowering the water heater temperature. We carry a full array of these

Under Counter Thermostatic Mixing Valve

Under counter thermostatic mixing valve

devices and, whichever device you choose, we, or any licensed plumber, can install them for you at your convenience.

Hansgrohe’s iBox Valve

This valve does it all for tubs and showers

The first type of temperature-actuated mixing valves are located at the water heater’s hot water outlet. They temper the water to the entire house. The second type are automatic compensating mixing valves located at the shower or tub, which blends cold water and brings the water temperature to a safe level just before it comes out of the showerhead or tub spout. The third types are temperature-limiting devices generally used at kitchen and bathroom sinks. These keep water temperatures to a predetermined setting using a manual dial.

We recommend automatic mixing devices as the best and easiest way to prevent scalding. These are single-handle, pressure balanced devices such as Wolverine Brass and the Moen posit-temp. Hansgrohe’s iBox valve blends both temperature and pressure balancing depending on the trim kit you add to it. It adds flexibility to your installation.

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