Whether you like hot showers or you’re looking for hotter water for dishes or laundry, you might be thinking about turning up the temperature on your water heater. That can work to a point, but may also put you or your family members at risk of scalding. However, you also don’t want to turn your water heater down too low, because there are bacteria and health risks that come with that. Here’s what you should know about a safe water heater temperature range.

What if Your Water Heater Is Too Hot?

The standard temperature setting on most water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s where most people have theirs set, because it provides enough hot water to mix with cold water for showers, dishes, laundry, and other activities. However, it’s important to realize that you can scald yourself with water at that temperature. If you have children or elderly people in your home, or anyone who could be at greater risk of injury from hot water, you may want to turn the thermostat down a little.

Is It Dangerous to Turn the Temperature Down?

Turning the thermostat on your water heater down makes sense if there’s a burn risk, of if you want to use a little less power and reduce your bill. After all, it costs less to heat water to a lower temperature than it does to a higher one. It’s important to note, though, that anything below 120 degrees Fahrenheit creates a risk for the growth of legionella bacteria, which can lead to Legionnaire’s disease.

Naturally, that’s a serious risk to the health and safety of you and your family, so you want to make sure you’re not turning your water heater’s thermostat down below 120 degrees. If you’re worried about too high of a temperature, lowering it to 125 or 130 degrees can be a safe and effective compromise. Then, you can have peace of mind and not worry about bacteria, but you’ll also reduce the risk of anyone in your home being scalded by water that’s too hot.

What if Your Water Temperature Doesn’t Stay Comfortable?

If you’ve adjusted the temperature and it doesn’t seem to be making a difference, you may need water heater repair services that can address any issues with the thermostat, heating element, or other parts of your water heater. Over time, these components can start to wear out. As they do, they might not work properly anymore. Fortunately, a lot of them can be replaced without needing to replace the entire water heater. That gives you options, and can reduce your costs.

Is It Time to Get a New Water Heater?

Sometimes, a water heater will start to leak or have other problems that really can’t be repaired. If that happens, you may need to have it replaced instead. Working with a professional to do that is the right choice, since it can be much easier and more efficient than trying to do it yourself. Choosing a professional installation also means you won’t be putting yourself at any risk of injury during a DIY job, and that you can have your new water heater temperature set where you’d like it, for comfort and safety.

What Should You Watch Out For?

If you have an older water heater, you’ll want to look out for any problems it could be developing. If you catch these quickly they can often be repaired, instead of needing to replace the entire water heater itself. Leaks and other big issues can still require a replacement, of course, but the sooner you spot them the less damage they’ll do. By keeping an eye on your water heater, and its temperature, you can keep your water temperature in a safe range for everyone in the house.