What Temperature Should My Hot Water Be?

Mar 19, 2022

We all love a hot shower, but if your hot water system was installed over 5 years ago, you might be at a much higher risk of harming yourself compared to people with a proper home tempering system. Your home’s hot water should follow the ‘Goldilocks’ rule, where it’s just right! No one enjoys a cold bath, and water that’s too hot can be seriously dangerous. So what temperature should your hot water be exactly? Well, we’ll tell you.

Is My Water Too Hot? – The Legal Hot Water Limits

We’ve all caught ourselves off guard at some point by sticking our hand under a hot tap. Sure it’s not a pleasant jolt, but that temperature has been regulated to ensure you’re able to safely remove your hand without injury.

The current regulation states that the maximum temperature for delivery to bathrooms is 50 degrees. This can be a few degrees hotter in laundry facilities and kitchens; however, it can be difficult to separate the hot water piping to allow a difference in temperature inside your home. Unless further measures were taken, your hot water plumbing will likely deliver a 50-degree hot water maximum across your home.

Older Homes May Not Have A Temperature Limit

Have you noticed that your tap water can be boiling hot? Well, your hot water system may not have a tempering valve or it may have a faulty system. Systems installed before 1988 were not yet required to host these valves. It’s unlikely your system is that old, but some gas heating systems, which tend to last around 20-years, may still be operational without the required tempering valve.

The expected life expectancy of an electric hot water system is 8 to 12 years, so it’s likely that any systems being used before proper regulations were in place have been phased out. Even so, the tempering valves themselves expire every 5 to 8 years. If you have not replaced your tempering valves in that time, we recommend doing so as soon as possible.

Full home tempering ensures the safety of your family and drastically reduces the chances of injury or scalding from your hot water system. Boiling water can cause third-degree burns instantly. Installing the proper protective measures gives you up to 30 seconds before severe burns occur.

Your Valves Should Be Replaced Every 5 Years 

The lifespan of a tempering valve is around 5 – 8 years, though suppliers recommend replacing the valves after 5 years to ensure against malfunction. All electric hot water systems will have a sticker placed by the manufacturer that reminds owners to replace the valves every 5 years for maximal safety. This means pressure temperature relief valves and cold water expansion valves that are also mandatory on the installation of a new hot water heater.

How Does It Work?

  1. Hot water systems are regulated through a T shaped tempering valve to 50 degrees. This device is a 3-way mixing valve that moderates boiling hot water from your hot water tank with cold water to deliver reduced temperature water to the internal fixtures.
  2. This valve saves you from high hot water consumption bills and also reduces the risk of scalding.
  3. A tempering valve should be installed or altered by a licensed plumber like Brisbane Metro Plumbing & Gas.

Buildings That Must Have Water Temps Lower than 50-Degrees

According to the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, the delivery of heated water at the outlet of a sanitary fixture cannot be more than 45°C in any – 

  • Residential parts of an aged care facility
  • Patient care area in a healthcare building 
  • Part of a facility that is used by children (Schools, kindergartens and other care services)
  • In a designated accessible facility in a common area of a Class 2 building, or in any part of a Class 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9a, 9b, 9c or 10 building. 

Otherwise, the standard maximum temperature is 50°C. Still, while residential homes are not obliged to lower their hot water temperature, if you feel like your living conditions are similar to some of the examples listed above, talking to a plumbing professional to implement lower hot-water temperature restrictions could better protect young children or elderly residents from burns and scalding.

Dangers Of Water That’s Too Hot

Each few degrees hotter water gets, the more severe the damages can be with skin contact. To put things in perspective, heated water delivered at 60°C takes one second to cause third-degree burns.

At 57°C, it takes several seconds to cause a severe burn. Even lower at 54°C will only cause serious burns after 30 seconds of exposure. All the way down to 45°C would require a person to be exposed for 6-hours to suffer similar burns.

People with sensitive skin, such as the elderly or children, are at a far greater risk of scalding as they have a thinner skin thickness and slower reaction time to retreat from the water source.

Too Cold Can Be Dangerous Too

Your water tank can’t just produce cooler water. Australian hot water tanks must be kept above a minimum of 60°C at all times to prevent legionnaires disease. This illness can be contracted by inhaling contaminated water.

That is why hot water systems must run at a certain temperature and be cooled via a tempering valve before it reaches your taps and faucets. Also, cold showers may compromise your immune system and increase the chances of you catching cases of flu or other sicknesses.

Don’t Wait ‘till Something Goes Wrong – Call The Brisbane Metro Team Today

If your home’s hot water system runs warmer than most, it’s only a matter of time until you or someone visiting gets burned. Call the Brisbane Metro Plumbing & Gas team out today, and we’ll make sure you can enjoy a shower without the risk.

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