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Maintaining Your Water Heater: Tips For Preventing Burns And Possible Infections

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Your trusty water heater has always been there when you desperately needed a shower after a long day at work, or had a sink full of dirty dishes you were finally ready to tackle! However, did you know that although the water coming from your taps seems safe, it might accidentally scald or even sicken your family members? If you've never taken the time to maintain, adjust or flush your water heater, here are two reasons why it's vital to pay attention to this often-overlooked appliance:

The Dangers of Hot Water Burns

Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing your child in pain, which is why it's important to prevent needless accidents, especially around the home. One of the best places to start is with the water heater.

According to the Burn Foundation, setting the temperature on your water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Not only is this temperature sufficient to enjoy a hot shower and get your dishes clean, turning down the heat can save you big money on your electric bill!

Adjusting the temperature on your water heater isn't as complicated as you might think, either. According to The Family Handyman, here is how to ensure your water heater's temperature is ideal for your whole family:

  • Locate the temperature dial, which on most models is on the side of the heater. In some cases, adjusting the temperature will be as simple as turning the dial to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in other cases, you will need to adjust the dial from "hot" to "warm."

  • If you don't have numbers on your dial, you must check the water temperature until its between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Family Handyman, the best way to do this is to run the tap and test the water with a meat or candy thermometer. Continue to adjust the dial as needed until you reach the temperature you're after.

If you're not able to reach the ideal temperature, or just can't seem to figure out how to adjust your water heater, don't hesitate to contact a professional for help!

Water Heaters and the Threat of Bacteria

Having a water softener is a great way to combat hard water, but did you know that all those minerals and sediment can still build up inside your water heater? Aside from causing a nasty clog in your pipes, this build up can potentially make your family sick.

Mixed in with the lime and other types of sediment are two potentially dangerous substances: calcium carbonate and a variety of different bacteria, including Legionella. Although calcium carbonate is safe for humans in small quantities, when it's consumed in large quantities over a period of time, it can cause some nasty symptoms, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Kidney stones

  • A severe loss of appetite

The Legionella bacteria can also thrive inside your water heater because the water and sediment inside provides the ideal environment. Turning your water heater's temperature to between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit can kill most of this bacteria, but unfortunately, it can still find its way into your family's drinking water.

If you're worried about exposing your loved ones to calcium carbonate and the different germs that might be living inside your hot water heater, the best way to keep them safe is to have your unit flushed at least once-a-year. It's possible to perform this chore yourself, but the process can get messy and it must be done correctly to ensure all the sediment, and whatever is found inside, is completely eliminated.

This is why it's best to leave this flushing to the professionals!

Maintaining your water heater doesn't just help ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently. It can also keep your family healthy and safe. If you're unsure or simply not comfortable maintaining you water heater, the best idea is to call a boiler repair professional to handle the job.  


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