5 Reasons Why Your Water Heater is Scalding Hot
“Ouch, that’s hot!” Sounds familiar? If the water from your water heater is scalding hot, you’ve got three problems on your hands.
Firstly, there’s the risk of serious burns from extremely hot water from taps and fixtures in your home. This is a major concern, especially if you have the young or the old using your water.
Second, you have a malfunctioning water heater to worry about.
And finally, you can expect a big energy bill just around the corner!
If the hot water from your water heater is too hot, it could be due to a faulty thermostat, mineral build-up, blocked pressure relief valve, your system’s heating element or even the tempering valve.
How hot is too hot for hot water heaters?
Most water heater thermostats are set somewhere between 60 and 70°C. But did you know that 70°C water will burn adult skin in just 1 second and a child’s skin in just 0.5 seconds according to Australian Building Codes Board?
Adults and children can enjoy 50°C water for 5 minutes before risk of scalds. At 45°C, that time goes up to 6 hours! If 60-70°C water is too hot and will cause burns, then why don’t we set the thermostat to 50°C?
When storing water in a water tank to be heated, you run the risk of bacteria growing inside. Setting the thermostat at 60-70°C means you minimise this risk.
That’s why it’s a regulation for Australian homes to have tempering valves installed for sanitary fixtures such as your shower and bathroom tap. These control the temperature allowed to come out of these fixtures.
At most you’ll have 50°C, which is safe for up to 5 minutes for both adults and young children. Mix in some cold water and you’re all good to have those long showers we all love.
1. Thermostat is set too high or is broken
Both electric and gas water heaters have a thermostat, or a temperature setting to heat the water to. If you have really hot water coming from your hot water system, it’s best to start off checking this.
The thermostat helps to regulate the temperature of your hot water heater. The temperature it senses controls whether or not the system’s heating elements are off or on.
Check your thermostat and see what temperature it is set to. If this is too high, this is what is causing your water heater to produce scalding hot water.
Alternatively, your water heater thermostat might simply be broken. This could be a miscalibrated thermostat, meaning the temperature it reads is consistently lower than what it actually is. Or maybe the safety trigger is broken and your water is constantly being heated.
Regardless, a thermostat replacement is no DIY job – you will need to contact a professional plumber to make sure the job is done right.
2. Mineral build-up
Our water contains a range of minerals which aren’t filtered out during water treatment processes. Water with an especially high concentration of minerals is considered hard water.
An excessive build-up of minerals in your hot water heater could be a cause of a high water temperature. These minerals eventually settle at the bottom of your water heater and form a hard layer or sediment.
This layer will mean more energy is required for water heating. It can also cause overheating and can heat your water to much higher temperatures than it is set to. On top of unexpectedly hot water, this will also decrease your water heater’s lifespan.
3. Pressure relief valve is blocked
The pressure relief valve is a very important component of a hot water system. Water inside the tank is heated and steam is generated. The pressure relief valve helps to release this steam and regulate the tank’s pressure.
If the pressure relief valve is blocked, pressure inside the tank will increase, in effect overheating the water. This could be a cause of your hot water suddenly becoming too hot. Worst case scenario, your water heater might explode!
With the risk of explosion, this is certainly a problem to call a plumber for. You’ll need an emergency plumber with a quick turnaround time if your pressure relief valve is blocked.
4. Malfunctioning heating element
Electric water heaters contain one or two heating elements inside the tank to heat the water. If you suddenly have scalding hot water from taps in your home, this could be a sign that a heating element is stuck on.
It is often the lower element that sticks first due to the sediment layer on the bottom. This means it is constantly heating, causing the water to overheat.
Just like the problems above, replacing a heating element could be disastrous for an amateur. Mixing electrical heating elements and water should only be done by a professional plumber.
5. Your tempering valve is faulty, or you don’t have one!
Your hot water system’s tempering valve limits your water’s maximum temperature to 50°C for sanitary fixtures. If this valve is faulty, your water could be coming out much hotter than this maximum, risking serious scald burns.
If you have an older water heater, you might not even have a tempering valve to begin with! Tempering valves are now required for new water heater installations.
While regulations vary slightly between states, a general rule of thumb is that if you’re having a new water heater installed, even if it’s like-for-like, you need a tempering valve.
No matter what reason your water heater is scalding hot, Metropolitan can help with our 24/7 availability and service within an hour*. We have all your plumbing needs sorted with our experienced emergency plumbers.
With the return of short sleeves and office thermostat debates, summer has certainly made its grand return. Did you know that heating and cooling in the home accounts for a whopping 20 to 50 per cent of your energy bill though?
Setting your air conditioner to the optimal temperature can make a big difference in its running costs over the summer months. We’re here to tell you exactly what the ideal air conditioner temperature is and what you can do to reach maximum energy efficiency without breaking a sweat.
What’s the Best AC Temperature for Summer?
As a general rule, the best temperature for your air conditioner in summer is 25-27°C. There are some caveats, however, namely that this assumes you live in a moderate climate. We’re sure many of you would be hesitant to say Australian summers are “moderate”, so we’re going to break down the best temperature for air conditioning by different regions.
The real ideal temperature requires you to balance the climate of where you live and your comfort. Warmer climates such as North Queensland will typically need to set their air conditioning unit to 21-23°C to reach a comfortable temperature and maintain efficiency. Meanwhile, cooler regions such as Tasmania can set their system to 28°C to keep cool.
As outdoor temperatures increase, your air conditioner will need to work harder to offset this and keep a comfortable indoor temperature.
How Temperature Setting Affects Running Costs
The lower you set the temperature on your air conditioner in summer, the harder it has to work, and the more energy it will consume. More energy equals higher energy bills. For every degree you decrease your air conditioner’s temperature, you add around 10 per cent to its energy use. This might not sound like much, but it adds up on your energy bill in the end.
You can use the Ergon Air Conditioning Calculator to calculate your system’s approximate running costs based on the cooling capacity, temperature setting, and how much it is used. For example, a 6.0kW air conditioner set to 21°C that runs for six hours a day over 12 weeks will cost you $191.75. Setting it to 25°C, however, could save you $59.16!
Thankfully, there are extra things you can do to reduce your power bill and reach optimal performance with your air conditioning system.
How to Save Money on Your Air Conditioning Bill
While you can’t entirely avoid a rise in your energy bills when you’re using air conditioning, you can minimise how much it increases. We’ve got 6 easy ways you can make sure your air conditioning is energy efficient, beyond just the temperature settings.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Between 25 and 35 per cent of the heat gained in your home during summer is through the ceiling. A further 15 to 25 per cent comes through the walls and 25 to 35 per cent through your windows!
The warmer it is inside your home, the harder your air con needs to work to cool it back down. Upgrading or renewing your home’s insulation can go a long way in keeping this heat out in the first place.
Fitting your roof space with batts or loose-fill foam can help to prevent unwanted heat from entering your home. Simply keeping your curtains shut when the sun is out can also help to keep the heat out. Bonus points if they’re insulated curtains!
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
If you’re looking at installing a new air conditioner, it’s important you get the right size to ensure maximum energy efficiency. A unit that’s too big will use more energy than would be necessary to cool your home to the set temperature. Meanwhile, a unit that’s too small will work harder than a unit that’s the right size, resulting in parts wearing down sooner than they should.
As a general rule, here are the recommended air conditioner capacity based on room size