Hot Topics: Your Essential Guide to Adjusting Water Heater Temperatures


It’s easy to take hot water for granted. Whether you’re washing the dishes or enjoying a quick shower before the workday, you just twist the dial and it’s there. But what many homeowners don’t realize is that making sure the hot water is ready when you are, and the right temperature, is more involved than you might think. 

Today, let’s talk about how to adjust the temperature of your water heater. And even more specifically, we’re going to focus on the water coming out of your kitchen faucet. 

Quick fact!

You don’t adjust the temperature for bathing at the water heater itself. If your shower is running too cold, but your sink is just fine (or maybe even a bit too hot), you likely have a different issue on your hands like a bad shower mixer valve. 

What Temperature Should Your Faucet Be?

Water heaters are normally set to between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit, providing the right temperature for washing dishes and hands. As a safeguard, more modern faucets also include a temperature limit built right into the mechanism that prevents the water temp from exceeding the safe zone. Keep in mind that if you have an older home with independ hot and cold water faucets, these safety features won’t be in place. 

Adjusting Temperatures on Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters

It’s also important to know the difference in approach depending on your specific unit. Adjusting the water temperature for gas heaters is pretty straightforward: just find the main gas control valve, typically located at the bottom center of the heater, and turn the dial to your preferred setting. No tools are needed and it’s easy to access.

Electric water heaters are a different ball game. While many online tutorials tell you to unscrew the cover and adjust the temp, this can be extremely dangerous. Most electric water heaters run at a whopping 240 volts, making it absolutely essential that you turn the power off completely before attempting any adjustments. Going a step further, just in case your circuit was incorrectly labeled in the electric panel, you also should use an electrical tester to verify that there’s no current before touching the panel. Honestly, we recommend leaving this in the hands of a professional. 

Why Does Your Kitchen Sink Get Hot So Fast?

As we mentioned above, your water heater is typically set to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is great for getting those dishes sparkling clean or for a nice hot handwash. But if your water heater is close to the kitchen sink, there’s less cold water in the pipes to push out before the hot water arrives. That means scalding hot water could be flowing out of the faucet before you have a chance to adjust the temperature. Always let the water run for a few seconds, test, and let the colder water mix in until it’s comfortable. If it’s a real issue, then you may need to adjust the temperature or have your faucet looked at by a plumbing professional. Just remember: turning the water temp too low isn’t advisable either since it can let harmful bacteria grow in your water heater.

The Pro Move: Calling in Professional Help

You might be tempted to go the DIY route with your water heater issues. But trust us, it’s often wiser to call in the professionals. Here at Accurate Plumbing, for example, we can ensure that your water heater has been installed properly and the temperatures are safely adjusted in accordance with plumbing codes. 

Also, a service agreement with Accurate Plumbing includes a yearly inspection of your water heater and free temperature adjustments if necessary. 


Q1: Why is the temperature setting on my water heater important?

The temperature of your water heater plays a key role in everything from the comfort of your showers to the effectiveness of your dishwasher. Get it right, and you’re golden. Get it wrong, and you could be facing a variety of issues, from scalding water to bacteria growth in your water heater.

Q2: Should I adjust the temperature of my electric water heater myself?

Unless you’re a professional electrician, we’d recommend against it. Electric water heaters operate at high voltage, and if not handled correctly could pose a serious risk. When in doubt, call in a professional!

Q3: How can I safely adjust the temperature of my gas water heater?

Gas water heaters usually have a dial on the main gas control valve at the bottom center of the heater. Simply turn this dial to adjust the temperature. Easy as pie!

Q4: How often should I have my water heater inspected?

A professional inspection of your water heater once a year should be sufficient. Companies like Accurate Plumbing offer service agreements that include a yearly inspection and free temperature adjustments, ensuring your heater is in prime working condition.

Posted in