Do you have a storage tank type water heater? This is the most commonly found water heaters in Olympia, WA in homes today, so we wouldn’t be surprised. Even with recent developments in technology, resulting in the spread of systems such as tankless water heaters and heat pump water heaters, the storage tank water heater remains a reliable way to enjoy a steady supply of warm-hot water.
So, what if you are one of those who has a storage tank water heater? Is there anything specific you should know. Well, you should know about your risks. Yes, these systems are ultimately safe, so long as they are professionally installed and properly cared for. But there are risks involved, too, such as the threat of scalding that comes with a water heater whose temperature is set too high.
The potential of scalding is nothing to take likely. As we mentioned above, there have been many advancements made in water heating technology. However, there still are and probably will be limits on the precision control of the water temperature inside the tank.
For a relatable comparison, you cannot use a thermostat on a water heater to control the temperature with the same precision as you’d be able to use the thermostat on an HVAC system. If you turn the water heater’s thermostat up by even just a smidge, you could have scalding hot water coming from showerheads and faucets.
What Temperature Is Safe?
As we alluded to above, many homeowners believe that the thermostat of their water heater can be controlled with the same precision as their HVAC thermostat. Therefore, they may push the temperature up past 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the thermostat setting doesn’t mean your water won’t rise above that temperature!
This is where the lack of precision control becomes so important. The thermostat’s sensor is typically located near the bottom of the water tank and does not register the hotter water at the top, making it possible for the water temperature to exceed its setting.
A not-too-common but still important phenomenon to be aware of with storage tank water heaters is thermal stacking. This happens when the intermittent use of the water heater over a short period of time creates overheating in the water at the top of the tank. So if your thermostat is set at 120 degrees, thermal stacking can create water at the top of the tank hotter than 140 degrees, sending scalding water onto someone who’s just got in the shower.
To avoid this problem and subsequent injury, be sure that only one person in your household is tasked with changing the water heater thermostat if ever needed. Also, it’s wise to take preventive measures and check your hot water temperature before using it. There is always a potential for scalding to occur if you use a tank system, but doing a double check can help you avoid significant health hazards.