How to Adjust the Temperature on a Rheem Water Heater

How to Adjust the Temperature on a Rheem Water Heater

Adjusting the temperature on your Rheem water heater is not just about following a set of instructions; it’s about making your home more comfortable, energy-efficient, and safe. Whether you’re looking to save on your energy bills or ensure a warm, soothing shower during the colder months, the key lies in understanding how to effectively manage your water heater’s temperature. This guide will take you through the process step by step, ensuring you have all the knowledge you need to make the adjustment smoothly and safely.


Before diving into the adjustment process, it’s crucial to gather the right tools. You’ll need a noncontact circuit tester, a Phillips screwdriver, and a small flat-head screwdriver. These tools will help you access the thermostat and adjust the temperature safely. Remember, safety comes first! Ensure you’re comfortable using these tools and understand how to handle them properly.

Once you have your tools ready, locate your Rheem water heater. It could be in your garage, basement, or utility closet. The location doesn’t change the process, but knowing where your water heater is and having clear access to it is essential. Now, you’re ready to begin the adjustment process but remember, safety is paramount. Ensure you’re working in a well-lit area, and take your time to follow each step carefully.

The Adjustment Process

Adjusting the temperature of your Rheem water heater involves a few straightforward steps to ensure both your safety and the optimal performance of your water heater. Here’s a concise guide:

  1. Turn Off the Power: Safety first! Turn off the breaker to your Rheem water heater inside the breaker panel to avoid electrical hazards. Water heaters typically use a 30-amp double-pole breaker. If uncertain which breaker it is, consider turning off the main power as a precaution.
  2. Remove the Access Cover(s): Locate and remove the access cover(s) on the side of your water heater using a Phillips screwdriver. Depending on your model, there might be one or two covers.
  3. Confirm Power is Off: Before proceeding, use a noncontact circuit tester to ensure the unit’s power is indeed off. This is a critical step for your safety.
  4. Adjust the Thermostat: With the thermostat now accessible, use a small flat-head screwdriver to adjust the dial to your preferred temperature. If your heater has two thermostats, adjust both to ensure even heating.
  5. Reassemble: After adjusting, replace the insulation and reattach the access covers with the screws you previously removed. This helps in maintaining the efficiency of your water heater.
  6. Turn the Power Back On The final step is to re-energize your water heater by turning on the breaker in your electrical panel. This resumes the normal operation of your Rheem water heater, which is now set to your desired temperature.

By following these steps, you can easily adjust the temperature of your Rheem water heater to better suit your needs, whether it’s for energy efficiency, comfort, or safety. Always prioritize safety by ensuring the power is off before beginning any work on electrical appliances.

Should I lower my water heater temperature?

The ideal temperature setting for your Rheem water heater is a balance between comfort, safety, and energy efficiency. Rheem water heaters come preset at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a recommended setting by many health and safety organizations. This setting is considered safe for most households, reducing the risk of scalding while providing adequate hot water for daily use.

However, you may find reasons to adjust the temperature. For instance, increasing the temperature can be helpful in colder climates or for households requiring higher water temperatures. But it’s important to remember that setting temperatures above 120 degrees increases the risk of burns. Conversely, lowering the temperature can help reduce energy costs, but setting it too low, below 120 degrees, might affect the performance of appliances like your dishwasher.

What happens if your water heater temperature is too high?

Setting your water heater temperature too high can lead to several issues, ranging from safety concerns to increased energy costs. Here’s what happens when the water heater temperature is set too high:

Risk of Scalding

The most immediate and dangerous consequence of a high water heater temperature is the increased risk of scalding. Water hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit can cause burns quickly, especially in children and the elderly, whose skin is more sensitive. At temperatures around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it can take just a few seconds to suffer a serious burn. This is why many safety guidelines recommend keeping the water heater set at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Increased Energy Consumption

Water heaters account for a significant portion of a home’s energy consumption. Setting the temperature higher than necessary can lead to wasteful energy use. The higher the temperature setting, the more energy the water heater uses to maintain that temperature, even when hot water isn’t used. This increases your energy bills and contributes to unnecessary energy waste.

Shortened Lifespan of the Water Heater

Operating your water heater at higher temperatures can also shorten its lifespan. Excessive heat can accelerate the wear and tear on the water heater’s components, such as the tank and the heating elements. Over time, this can lead to more frequent repairs and the need for an earlier replacement than would otherwise be necessary.

Increased Mineral Buildup

High temperatures can exacerbate the buildup of minerals inside the tank, especially in areas with hard water. Minerals like calcium and magnesium can precipitate out more quickly at higher temperatures, forming sediment at the bottom of the tank. This sediment buildup can reduce the efficiency of your water heater, leading to longer heating times and further increased energy consumption. It can also cause corrosion, reducing the tank’s lifespan.

Pressure Build-Up

Water heaters have temperature and pressure relief valves to prevent excessive pressure build-up inside the tank. However, consistently high temperatures can lead to more frequent triggering of these safety valves or, in some cases, failure to operate properly if they become faulty. This can pose a significant risk, as excessive pressure build-up could lead to the water heater bursting, causing property damage or injury.

To avoid these issues, it’s best to adhere to the recommended temperature setting of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit for your water heater. This setting balances safety, energy efficiency, and the need for hot water in most household tasks.

Adjusting your Rheem water heater’s temperature is more than just turning a dial; it’s about understanding the impact of these adjustments on your home’s safety and energy efficiency. Always consider the needs of your household, including young children, elderly family members, or anyone sensitive to hot water. Moreover, staying informed about local codes and recommendations regarding water heater temperatures can ensure you’re compliant and optimized for efficiency and safety.

In summary, adjusting the temperature on your Rheem water heater is a straightforward process that can improve comfort, energy savings, and safety in your home. By following the steps outlined above, you’re not just adjusting; you’re taking control of your home’s energy consumption and ensuring a safe, comfortable environment for your family. Always remember to prioritize safety, consult your water heater’s manual for specific instructions, and consider the unique needs of your household when choosing the right temperature setting.

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