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How to Adjust Water Heater Temperature

Do you find that your hot water is way too hot? Maybe it isn’t quite hot enough? Sounds like you need to adjust the temperature of your hot water heater. It isn’t a difficult job, but depending on the type of water heater that you have it can differ quite a bit.

What is the Ideal Temperature?

You may be asking yourself, what is the best temperature to set your hot water heater at? Typically 120 degrees is good for your home. There are a few cases you might want to go a little higher.

For heavy usage homes, going up to 140 might help the tank from being emptied so fast. Another reason to set your tank to 140 is to kill bacteria. If you notice a funny smell from your hot water, you may have some bacteria growing in your tank. Turning up the temperature will solve the problem.

Gas or Electric

The first thing to figure out is if you have a gas or electric water heater. Grab a flashlight and head down to where your hot water tank is located. Take a look at your water tank and see if the instructions stickers on the tank talk about having a pilot light or how to light the pilot. If this is the case, you have a gas water heater. If not, you probably have an electric water heater.

If you are unsure or the stickers are missing, you can always check online by using the make and model number.

Gas Water Heater

Good news for you, you have the easy tank to adjust. If you look at your hot water tank, there should be a small square box located along the bottom. There should be two valves on the box, one that controls the gas and one that controls the temperature. Simply increase the temperature to what you would like it to be using the thermostat. DO NOT turn off the gas or change the gas valve. It isn’t necessary and will shut your hot water tank down.

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Electric Water Heater

Your adjustments are going to be a little more complicated. Here are the steps you need to adjust your temperature:

  • Find two screw drivers, one flat head and one Phillips.
  • Turn off the electricity to your water heater by opening the breaker at the breaker box or removing the fuse if you have one.
  • Locate the covers for your thermostats. Some electric heaters have two, a top and bottom element. If you notice two access panels on your tank you probably have two thermostats. Open both panels.
  • Remove the insulation carefully, you will need to put it back.
  • Use the flat head screwdriver to adjust the temperature on one or both of your thermostats. If you have two, set them to the same temperature.
  • Replace the insulation and put the covers back on.
  • Restore the power to your unit.

Is your hot water heater not working properly? Click here to get free individualized quotes from Philadelphia area contractors without having to invite a contractor to your home!

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