Published onAugust 4th, 2022
Your Apartment Hot Water Temperature: What Should the Temperature Be?
If you manage a multi-unit dwelling in New York City or own a condominium, especially if you rent it to someone else, it’s essential to know the laws regarding apartment hot water temperature. Too hot and occupants run the risk of burns. Too cold and you face a host of other consequences. Here’s what you need to know about controlling water temperature, so you don’t want to find yourself in hot water, so to speak, with the city’s regulatory agencies.
What New York City Laws Say
Water temperature is strictly regulated
The temperature of water in residential buildings is subject to laws in New York City because it’s so vital to hygiene and reducing the spread of disease, as well as for comfort when bathing or cleaning. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in citations, fines, withholding of rent, poor online reviews, and lawsuits for property owners.
Hot water must be provided 12 months out of the year, not only in winter. Furthermore, the water from all taps (kitchen, bathroom sink, and shower/bathtub) must reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If a shower anti-scald device has been installed, the water emanating from the tap should reach at least 100 degrees.
The Dangers of Excessively Hot Water
Scalding and high utility bills
It’s tempting to just turn up the dial on the water heater or boiler to avoid water that’s too cold for condominium, co-operative, or apartment occupants. This is particularly common when property managers or owners are worried about Legionella and other bacteria in water.
However, that has multiple downsides. First is the high cost of this strategy. You’ll pay more in fuel bills to keep the gas on more often. Long-term, this also puts more wear and tear on the boiler or hot water heater, so they’ll potentially need to be replaced sooner than they would otherwise.
The other negative to overly hot water is the risk of scalding. It only takes seconds for someone to incur serious burns from hot water, which can result in hospitalization and scarring. The elderly, children, and the disabled are especially vulnerable to this danger because they lack the reflexes, verbal skills, or temperature sensitivity to prevent scalding.
How to Achieve the Right Condo and Apartment Hot Water Temperature
Set the boiler or hot water heater properly
Achieving the right temperature for your hot water starts at the boiler or hot water heater, depending on how you heat water for your taps. Remember, the temperature needs to be at least 120 degrees at its destination. But you want to avoid water that’s 140 degrees or hotter because that poses a scalding risk.
If you’re concerned that water below 140 degrees won’t be hot enough to prevent Legionnaires disease caused by Legionella bacteria in your water, you have a couple of options. You can install thermostatic valves (see below) that let users keep water at a specific temperature, even if it’s hotter at the source.
And you can treat the water to reduce unwanted elements, which you should do for your boiler longevity and efficiency anyway. As well as adding chemicals to remove dirt and reach the proper pH, you can strain or filter municipal water to catch rust, metal, algae, scale, sludge, and other undesirable things that bacteria like to feed on. Giving the boiler or water heater tank a good annual cleaning will also help.
Of course, your boiler and hot water heater need to be in good operating condition to produce hot water in the right temperature zone. They should have professional maintenance checks at least once per year, which will also catch any other problems before they cause failure (which Murphy’s Law says will always happen during a cold snap on a holiday weekend).
Insulate the plumbing system
In some older buildings, particularly along windy or north-facing walls, hot water experiences heat loss in the pipes that run between the boiler or heater and the occupants’ taps. It can start out at the right temperature but lose heat quickly and wind up feeling tepid once it reaches a sink or tub.
The solution here is to insulate pipes that are predisposed to heat loss. This will offer three benefits:
- Getting unit occupants hot water at the right temperature
- Reducing the need to run the boiler or hot water heater at a higher temperature to compensate for heat loss in the distribution pipes
- Lowering the risk of pipes freezing in the dead of winter
Once the pipes leave the boiler room, our partners at Sanitary Plumbing can assist with installing the best insulation for your unique plumbing anatomy.
Replace old shower valves
Scalding is always a risk with old dual-handle shower valves. These should be replaced with a single valve that eliminates sudden changes in water temperature when someone else in the unit flushes the toilet or turns on a tap.
Better yet, think about installing thermostatic shower valves. These are more sophisticated handles that allow users to precisely control the temperature of shower or bath water. The best ones let you adjust temperature and pressure once to enjoy the same settings every time you turn on the hot water, without having to fiddle with the handles.
Is your boiler or hot water heater not giving you the hot water you need? Ready for a service call to tune up the system? Call Calray Boilers today at 212-722-5506, and we’ll make sure your property reliably has the right hot water temperature every time.