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Ask the Inspector: Water Temperature

Question: I have young children, and I am worried about water temperatures in my new home. Is that something an inspector checks?

Answer: Yes, a home inspector will test the water temperature and volume as part of a general home inspection. The inspector uses a thermometer, usually held under the water in the shower while operating at least one other water fixture, to determine any significant changes in water temperature. By turning the hot water all the way on and using the thermometer again, the inspector can give you an idea of water temperature. Anything over 49 degrees C (120 degrees F) can present a scalding problem.

A water volume test determines the effects of more than one water fixture – such as the sink and the shower, or the shower and the toilet – operating simultaneously. To test, the inspector turns both the hot and cold water in a sink or shower, noting the general pressure coming out of the faucet. This is easiest in a bathroom with a shower where several water-using fixtures are close together. After setting the shower, the inspector flushes the toilet and turns on the sink. If the volume of water reduces enough to be seen with the other fixtures in use it’s noted in the report.

The same test for water volume can be used to determine water temperature fluctuations when multiple fixtures are turned on at the same time. The temperature in the shower is first adjusted to about 105 degrees F. Then the toilet and sink are operated. If temperatures in the shower shift more than five degrees, it’s noted. Both of these tests will give you more information about the current condition and safety of your new home.

As a part of a general inspection, At Ease Building Inspections will perform a visual assessment of the water system and supply, noting not only temperature and pressure, but areas of leakage and overall condition.