Seattle Home Inspector's Blog



     I am old enough to remember boiling water on the stove to make hot water.    

     Now that we have all the hot water we could ever want----whenever we want----we must still be careful to not let it get TOO hot.

     I am impressed with the narrow range of temperatures that the human skin can deal with without being damaged.  Normal skin temperature is approximately 91 degrees.  According to the CPSC there are more than 3800 scalding injuries and 34 deaths per year from tap water that is set too high.  Most of these accidents involve children under five and the elderly.

Don't burn yourself

     Make sure your water temperature is not set higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you don’t have enough hot water at that temperature, you either need more supply (bigger tank) or some sort of temperature regulator (tempering valve) on the system so that the tank temperature can be set higher while delivering 120 degree water where you need it.


Charles Buell


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seattle Home Inspector


The Human Rights Campaign   QR code for Charles Buell Inspections Inc


WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 25 commentsCharles Buell • April 26 2010 11:02AM


Safety first. I remember as a plumber, when relighting boilers you could hold the pipe until it got to 140, which was about 30 seconds after it hit 130.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 9 years ago

Charles...I have an instant hot water spigot on my kitchen you know how many times people have put their finger under it to test it???'s 190 degrees at all times.

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 9 years ago

Thanks for the numbers

You can also install faucets with preset water temperature controls like in restaurants

never to hot for the little ones

enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) almost 9 years ago

We have an instant hot water spout on our sink and for awhile had to caution our grandkids about the very hot water each time they came over. They learned pretty fast and never got burned, but we were concerned.

Posted by Bill Travis, Broker/Owner (Captain Bill Realty, LLC) almost 9 years ago

That is very good to know. My skin is very sensitive since I was burned in a truck fire in the 1980s...
Have a great Monday Charles,

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) almost 9 years ago

Good post Charles.  How hot are those tankless water heaters?  I know I like a very hot shower, but my kids could not take it.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 9 years ago

Great picture to illustrate your point here Charles!

And such invaluable information for both new home owners and veterans alike.

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) almost 9 years ago

We don't have any chilluns left at home... so we have our set to "instant scald"... it ain' hot enough for my wife, unless the skin bilsters!

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) almost 9 years ago


Boy.... is that a expenisve (painful) lesson to learn the hard way....thanks for your post......and I heard you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 9 years ago

Charles, Something is wrong if you are scalding yourself at your tap!  Thanks for the info.

Posted by Susan Brown (Keller Williams NE, Kingwood Texas (Humble & Atascocita too)) almost 9 years ago

Glenn, I don't think I could hold onto a 130 degree pipe for 30 seconds----never mind 140
Barbara, those things can be incredibly dangerous
Don, yes, now required at tub/shower fixtures----good idea
Val, hard to be too watchful over the little ones
Paul, I made this to use as a link in my reports when I find the water too hot
Gene the tankless heaters can be adjusted like any other
Craig, my finger has fully recovered now
Alan, well that should keep everyone "in the pink"
Richie, people have no idea sometimes
Susan, and I often find the temperature above 140 degrees F

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

It's truly amazing how ofen I see really, really hot water on home inspections!  And in houses with little children!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

jay the hottest I ever found was 156----at a doctor's house.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

This is fantastic information Charles; another reason I subscribe to your blog.

I'm a big fan of tankless water heaters and it's important to know this information when you are deciding what to set the heat at. 

Posted by Vic Steele, Broker/Consultant (Vic Steele, Broker CA BRE 01349863) almost 9 years ago

I had to turn my tank down to 120 recently, but I still do not run out. I think I may save a few $ also.

Posted by Dennis Chamberlain, Eastern WA Home Inspections (Eastern WA Home Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

I have been over 180 many times! Frightful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Vic thanks,

Dennis, gas or electric?

Jay that is scary high

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Thanks for the diagram, Charles.  Our tank is currently set at "infant mode".  I'm lucky if the shower water hits 98.6.


Posted by Rich Edgley (Greater Chicagoland Home Inspection) almost 9 years ago

Great chart.  I just about burned my finger off at a house recently where they had it cranked up way to high.  

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 9 years ago

I love a really hot shower, and have no idea what my tank is set on.  I do know when it's time to replace I want the tankless system.  Good info Charles.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 9 years ago

Rich, I remember "infant mode"---ironic that that is the age they need sterilizing the most :)

Thanks Reuben

Tammy, the tankless systems are not great in all circumstances----will have to do a blog about that someday:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Hi Charles, thanks for the good warning. This is basic safety info but if you polled the average citizen you would soon learn that it is not common knowledge. If I had my way you wouldn't get out of the fifth grade without it.

It"s SO easy to set the right temperature and even a tempering valve is not hard or expensive to have done.

As for a kitchen hot point tap, putting your finger in that stream of hot water makes about as much sense as pouring the water from a kettle you just boiled onto your head.

But of course the HP tap is just a tap.

It is located at the back side of a sink to put it out of reach of young hands, but they still have to learn about it just as they have to learn how to safely cross the road.

IF you could invent a child proof safety device for the hot point tap system, as they say "the world will beat a path to your door".

That quote references the proverbial mouse trap, but like going to the moon, that job's been done.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 8 years ago

Robert perhaps one day someone will come up with the equivalent of the table saw safety-stop feature---that stops the blade before you saw your finger off :)

Those instant hot devices get REALLY hot---wouldn't own one myself.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

Very interesting, wonderful advice.  I am curious how many people out there actually know what their water temp is set at.

Posted by Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections, Experience the IHI Difference (IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581) over 7 years ago

David and Bonnie, I would suspect that the answer is very few.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago