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Both gas and electric water heaters come from the manufacturer with a number of different heat settings. While water heaters can be used on any setting, it is important for a water heater owner to understand when to use each setting. The choice of setting is important for both energy saving purposes and for protecting children and others from becoming burned.
Hot water heaters generally have a range of settings from about 90 to 150 Fahrenheit. The lowest setting should only be used in homes that are not actively being used. This lowest setting is often labeled “Vacation” for this reason. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that home owners set both electric and gas water heaters to 120 Fahrenheit. This temperature is considered sufficient to kill most bacteria and germs may be present in the water heater. Higher temperature settings should be used with care as the water will be hot enough to scald skin. This could be a serious issue for those with a child or an elderly person living in the home.
The heat setting on electric hot water heaters is usually under a panel on the side of the tank. The panel is generally held in place by one or two screws. Once the panel is removed and the insulation lifted, the dial to adjust the electric water heater temperature setting will be exposed. On gas hot water heaters, the dial to change the temperature is generally exposed on the side of the tank toward the bottom. During both electric and gas water heater installation, it is important that the tank is installed so that the dial is easy to access. Tankless water heaters will also have a temperature control in the main control panel box. Before adjusting tankless, electric or gas hot water heaters, a home owner should consult with the owner’s manual for the water heater.
A home owner should understand that the temperature of the water at a faucet may be different than the tank setting. This may be due to normal temperature fluctuations or may be an indication that the tank needs repaired or replaced. In the event that the water from a hot water heater has a funny smell, a home owner should turn the water up one setting. The smell may be caused by bacteria in the tank. Homes with older dishwashers that do not heat the water should have the water heater set to 140. This temperature is needed to make certain that the dishwasher properly cleans the dishes.
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