Each year, nearly 4,000 Americans are scalded by hot tap water at home — and dozens of these cases are fatal. Because it takes just a three-second exposure to 140-degree water can produce first-degree burns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends limiting household water temperature to 120 degrees.

To help prevent accidental scaldings in your home, consider installing anti-scald devices. Anti-scald devices are available in three types:

Pressure-balancing valves. Thermostatic temperature-control valves. Valves that offer a combination of both. Pressure-balancing valves are the most commonly installed anti-scald device. They have a mechanism that senses sudden drops in the cold-water input pressure — a common event, for example when someone flushes a toilet elsewhere in the home. A piston or diaphragm in the valve moves instantly to correct the mix of hot and cold water by reducing the hot water pressure input proportionately, thus maintaining a safe balance. Should the cold-water pressure drop to zero, the pressure-balancing valve automatically reduces all flow from the faucet to a trickle.

Thermostatic mixing valves may be installed in-line near the water heater or incorporated in a point-of-use tub/shower faucet. These valves typically feature an adjustable knob marked with temperature indications. The user dials the desired temperature, and the thermostatic mixing valve mixes hot and cold water to maintain that temperature in a “set it and forget it” mode. Most thermostatic mixing valves have a built-in stop that will not allow users to select a temperature above a certain maximum, usually 120 degrees. The valves also contain a sensor to automatically shut off all water if cold water pressure drops to zero.

For more information on anti-scald devices, contact the home-comfort experts at Pipe Works Services in Chatham. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about anti-scald devices and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Pipe Works Services serves Chatham, NJ, and the surrounding areas.

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