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How Do You Turn Up the Water Heater? A Homeowner’s Guide

4 min read • January 26th, 2024

Heil Plumbing

How Do You Turn Up the Water Heater? (0:00-0:01)

Is your hot water tap never quite hot enough for you? Many homeowners and renters find themselves pondering, “How do I turn up my water heater?” Whether it’s for that extra bit of warmth or ensuring a comfortable and safe water temperature, adjusting your water heater is a skill every homeowner should have. In this guide, we’ll show you how to manage your water heater settings safely and efficiently.

What Temperature Should a Water Heater Be Set At (0:04-0:09)

The optimal temperature setting for a residential water heater is typically around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is considered safe to prevent scalding while being hot enough for daily use. However, it’s important to note that settings may need to be adjusted based on your specific home layout and usage needs. For commercial settings or more complex plumbing systems, a higher temperature might be necessary, supplemented by mechanical adapters to temper the water for safety.

How To Adjust the Temperature on an Electric Water Heater (1:55-5:20)

Tools To Turn Up The Water Heater (Electric Water Heaters)

All you’ll need to turn up your electric water heater is a screwdriver to access the thermostat(s) and a flashlight:

Steps To Adjust the Temperature on an Electric Water Heater

Adjusting an electric water heater involves a few more steps compared to a gas model. Here’s how you can do it safely:

  1. Safety First: Before proceeding, ensure your safety. If you’re not comfortable working with live power, turn off the heater’s circuit breaker. Circuit breakers are typically located in the basement, garage, storage, or utility room, but they can be located in other places. If you can’t find a breaker specifically designated for the water heater heater, you’ll need to switch all the breakers off to be safe. Make sure you have a flashlight with you so you have light to work.
  2. Locate the Thermostat: The thermostat is usually behind a cover panel on the side of the heater. Some units have two panels (upper and lower).
  3. Remove the Cover Panel: Unscrew and remove the cover panel to access the thermostat.
  4. Adjust the Thermostat: Use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the thermostat dial to your desired temperature, typically marked by different temperature settings.
  5. Reassemble: Once adjusted, replace the insulation and cover panel.
  6. Repeat (if necessary): If your water heater has two thermostats, set them to the same temperature for consistent heating. Follow steps 2-5 for the second thermostat as well.
Want to know how to adjust the temperature on an electric water heater? Adjust the temperature with a screwdriver.

How To Adjust the Temperature on a Gas Water Heater (5:32-8:05)

Gas water heaters are more straightforward to adjust:

  1. Find the Control Valve: This is usually a knob located at the bottom of the heater.
  2. Adjust the Temperature: Turn the knob to change the temperature setting. Common settings are marked as ‘A’ (lower temperature), ‘B’ (medium), and ‘C’ (very hot).
  3. Confirm the Setting: If your water heater doesn’t have temperature labels, use a thermometer to test the water temperature at the tap.

As a rule of thumb, ‘A’ is often around 120 degrees, while ‘B’ could be closer to 140 degrees.

Want to know how to adjust the temperature on a gas water heater? Turn the knob to change the temperature setting.

Safety Considerations and Risks

While making adjustments, it’s crucial to be aware of the risks. Water that’s too hot can lead to scalding. If you’re increasing the temperature, always check the water temperature at the tap with a thermometer to ensure safety.

how do you turn up the water heater and what temperature should a water heater be set at

What if I Had Hot Water and Lost It Suddenly?

There are many potential reasons you could lose hot water suddenly (especially depending on your water heater’s age). If you’ve been running a lot of hot water, it’s quite possible that you have just run out. Wait and give your water heater some time to reheat the fresh water. If you still don’t have hot water after 30-90 minutes, then examine your water heater. If you notice it’s leaking, get professional help right away. If it’s not leaking, you may just need to follow these electric water heater troubleshooting tips. Or, if you have a gas water heater, you may need to relight the pilot light. That said, when in doubt, reach out to your local plumber.

FAQ Section

What Should My Hot Water Tank Thermostat Be Set At?

The most widely recommended setting for a hot water tank thermostat is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature balances energy efficiency, safety, and bacterial growth prevention.

Is 130 Degrees Too Hot for a Water Heater?

Setting your water heater to 130 degrees Fahrenheit is generally within the safe range but poses a risk of scalding if exposed for an extended period. It’s important to balance safety and efficiency at this temperature.

Should I Set My Water Heater to 140 Degrees?

Setting your water heater to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit can be beneficial for larger households or increased hot water demand, but caution is advised to prevent scalding, especially in homes with vulnerable individuals.

Is 150 Degrees Too Hot for a Water Heater?

Setting a water heater to 150 degrees Fahrenheit is generally considered too hot for residential settings and can cause severe burns quickly. It’s advised to keep residential water heater temperatures lower to ensure safety.

Need Help With a Water Heater in the Baltimore or D.C. Area?

Whether it’s a simple question like, “How old is my water heater?” or you need DIY help to turn up the temperature on your water heater. We are here for you.

We have a team of plumbers ready to handle all your plumbing needs. From online DIY advice about the type of toilet wax ring to choose to unmatched professional services like sewer line replacement, we handle it all for the Baltimore-D.C. metropolitan area. Whether you are looking for Howard County plumbing help or plumbers in Anne Arundel County, whether you are looking for a hometown plumber Baltimore County trusts, or need to connect with our Montgomery County plumbers because you live closer to Washington D.C., give us a call. We have over 1,000 5-star reviews for a reason!


Heil Plumbing Team

8177 Mission Rd Jessup, MD, 20794, United States

(410) 799-7727

Schedule Service


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