How hot’s the water?

Wanda asked me, “How do I know what temperature the water-heater is set at, when all it says on the thermostat is “A”, “B” or “C”?

My Answer:  Wanda, my gas water-heater thermostat’s settings are identified in the same way.  There are also others identified only with “Low”, “Med” or “High” instead of an actual temperature (in degrees) setting. So how do you tell?  Pick the faucet or bathing facility that is the farthest from the water-heater in your home and turn it on to the “full hot only” position.  If you don’t know which faucet this is then turn on the one centrally located in your home.  Next, let the water run until it won’t get any hotter to your touch, then hold the end of a thermometer in the water’s flow until the temperature won’t rise any longer. 

That is your water temperature setting or at least close enough to allow you to adjust the temperature to the proper 120-125 degrees in your home.  As to the thermometer, you can use a candy or even a meat thermometer as they will readily read in the temperature range necessary to make your adjustments.  By the way, most mercury “wall thermometers” aren’t very accurate at the higher temps so skip using them.  Adjust your thermostat(s) ever so slightly over a period of days until your water temperature is where you want it to be.  Why days?  Because unless you go through large quantities of hot water regularly, it will take an extended period for the water-heater to readjust to the new setting.

As a last hint, once you have the thermostat set to the temperature you’re happy with, make a small mark on the thermostat dial next to the arrow with a bright-colored or white latex paint, fingernail polish or the like.  Then you will always know at a glance what the temperature on your water-heater is set to.  Hope this answers your question. And thanks.



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