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Water Heater Tips: Avoiding Scalds

thermostat-in-the-redAs hot as it may get in our area during the long, arduous summer season, we still have plenty of need for hot water in our homes. When you shower in the morning, run the dishwasher, or do your laundry, you’re using water that is heated by your water heater in Phoenix, AZ. It is a hardworking appliance, to say the least, and today’s water heaters are some of the most durable appliances on the market. It is important to remember, though, that misuse of your water heater can be dangerous.

Today, we are going to talk about the dangers of scalding yourself while using a tank water heater. There are some potential issues, as well as some user misunderstanding, which can make painful and dangerous scalds a real possibility. Keeping this information in mind, and working with a professional plumber as needed, can help to ensure that you and everyone else in your home uses hot water safely. 

The Thermostatic Setting Is Not Foolproof

What’s the big deal?, some homeowners may think. I can just set a safe temperature at the thermostat on the water heater. This is true, of course. You can make adjustments to the temperature of the water stored in your water heater. The issue is that you cannot really count on this temperature to be completely constant.

The thermostatic controls on most storage water heaters are located at the bottom. This means that the device won’t necessarily register the temperature at the top of the tank, which is where the outlet is. That means that temperatures at the top of the tank could be much higher than that set at the thermostat–typically at 120°F–and could result in scalding for users.

“Thermal Stacking”

This is one of the most common causes of dangerously hot water temperatures in a home. When a small amount of hot water is needed, but not nearly enough to really drain the tank substantially, some cold water is going to be brought into the bottom of the tank. The system will respond, heating that new cold water, while the water that’s already hot at the top of the tank gets hotter. If the timing is right, that very hot water at the top can then be called for and wind up scalding someone.

Preventing Scalds

The best thing to do is to make sure that everyone in the household, including children, understand that there is the potential for scalding hot water coming out of the faucets and fixtures in the home. Water temperatures should always be carefully tested before allowing children or elderly residents to get under it. While this vigilance is a good step toward the safe use of hot water, there are devices that you can use for further protection

  • Mixing valves: A temperature actuated mixing valve can be installed at or near the hot water outlet of the appliance. This device will automatically temper the water to a safe temperature, regardless of the thermostatic control setting. An automatic compensating mixing valve is installed at the shower or bathtub, and will mix sufficient cold water with the hot water to ensure safety.
  • Temperature Limiting Devices: These devices are installed at points of use such as sinks, tubs, etc., and actively prevent hot water from reaching temperatures beyond the preset limit.

Schedule your water heater services with The Sunny Plumber. Bright and Shiny and won’t show our Hiney

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