120F not hot enough?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by HoracioO, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,833
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I have always raised the temp above the factory setting. It provides more hot water that way since more cold water is blended in to temper it. Also, by mixing hot and cold 50/50, I get more volume for a more invigorating shower and the wife's tub fills quicker. The dish washer does a much better job too despite having its own heater. Our dish washer's heater works on a time cycle and does not sense temperature.

    Because one stupid woman scalded herself between her legs with hot coffee while driving, the coffee I pick up at the drive through is just luke warm by the time I get to my office. I wonder if the water temperature police are going to break down my door and arrest me?
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I am not sure how you figure running a water heater at a lower temperature "saves money". If it is "warm" you use a lot of hot water and a little, if any, cold. IF it is "hot" you use a little hot water and a lot of cold water for the same volume. You ONLY pay to heat the water you use. Standby heat loss is slightly greater at higher temperatures, but with the newer insulations it borders on insignificant. If there are no young children or "fragile" older folks in the house, the users should be cognizent enough to be able to regulate the water temperature regardless of whether it is 120 or 140, in fact, my wife complains if the dial is bumped and the temperature drops into the 115-120 degree range.

    The heater in the Legionaires Disease video is interesting. I hope that it NOT the T&P valve at the end of the 3/4" off the hot water line. I have never seen an air vent installed in what might be the T&P valve opening in the center of the heater. Not sure what that thing is at the rear of the heater. They did not show enough of the heater to tell if there is a T&P installed in the side of it.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2011
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,833
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    True with electric since the heat transfer element is entirely within the insulation envelope. Even this standby loss is only lost if/when there is surplus heat in the room, otherwise you're just heating the room that would otherwise be heated from another source.

    On gas water heaters the heat transfer element is connected to the flue and as such is a hole in the insulation envelope. During heating to higher water temps, flue temps will also be higher. Heat loss up the flue is lost forever.

    I understand that with children, elderly, or otherwise cognitively challenged people, the risk of scalding may need to be mitigated.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    A tempering valve helps moderate the output while providing many of the same benefits. If things like the DW and WM can be plumbed before the tempering valve, you get the best of both worlds. BW has a pre-configured tempering valve setup option that does just that.
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida Member

    Messages:
    105
    Location:
    Lake Worth, Florida
    What is your water supply? Municipal supply or a well? Have you actually check the temperature of the water right out of the water heater. Is it really 140*. Don't trust the thermostat dial. Have you returned the water heater back down to 120 and did the order return? At 140 you'll really notice it at the tap or shower since you can get burned in a few seconds.
    I have a front loader and I always keep the door open after each wash and it only takes maybe 30 minutes or less to dry out. My water heater is set to 120* and never have had a odor issue. In part I think it is the condition and age of the water heater, the anode rod could be gone and the minerals in the water. If your tank is more than 10 years old you're on borrowed time and if you are suspecting bacteria in the tank I would change it out.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  6. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    Legionella is a legit concern, but 140 is overkill for gas

    I've read a bit on this a year or two ago and this is what I've gathered:
    1. Legionella lives but does not propagate at ~120+ F
    2. Temps significantly below this do pose a serious problem, starting at around 115 F.
    3. Gas water heaters in the study I read didn't show a problem in any of the samples.
    4. Electric water heaters did have a problem...even at 140 F because the bottom of the tank can remain much colder (as in below 105 F).
    5. Water heater timers to let the tank run cool/without recovering for part of the day are a really bad idea! Could put the whole tank right in the danger zone below 115 F.
    6. Turning down the water heater while on vacation is a bad idea -- see #4 plus long stagnant period.
    7. Electric water heaters are a bad idea with respect to legionella and should probably be set up to circulate (perhaps while thermostat is calling for heat.)

    Being that I have a gas water heater, I bumped mine up to 125 F as a safety margin (and yes, I've confirmed temps.)

    140 F is quite a bit of overkill and I won't do it without a tempering valve--which I don't have and don't see the need to install. So for me the scald potential alone eliminates it. Considering the cost of having such stuff done and how poorly valves (like PRV's) seem to hold up, I'll stick to a lower temp in the water heater instead.

    140 F in a typical gas water heater will increase the tank losses compared to 120 F (or 125 F in my case.) The ambient around my water heater is about 72 F, so the losses would increase by about (1-(140-72)/(125-72))*100% = 28% (vs. 42% at 120 F.) That's not huge, only about 6 therms a year without an insulating blanket, 3 therms with (both use burner efficiency for the calc.)

    Without a tempering valve, there would also be some additonal losses due to hotter water sitting in the piping between uses--dead volume that is lost. For us this would likely be around the same magnitude as the increase in the direct tank loss. Again, a few therms a year.
  7. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

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    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    Laughing at the misplaced hatred of front loaders

    We've had our front loader for 2 1/2 years now with no problems. Works great, uses a small fraction of the water as before, reducing sewer, nat. gas, and electric (the latter is drying savings because it spins the clothes so much drier!) Compared to our old top loader this one is returning about $150/year in savings. It's already paid the difference between itself and the cheapest top loader. Plus it doesn't beat up the clothes the way the old washer did...so our clothes seem to be lasting longer.

    While the old Whirlpool top loader worked decently much of its life in its final years I had begun to hate it. I had to replace several parts on it over its life. The transmission on it failed under warranty around the first year. The water solenoids failed twice, once every 7-8 years. The lid switch failed and was a bit tricky to diagnose. (The nice thing was that I could replace all but the transmission myself.) It was having some intermittent spray nozzle dribble issues when I sold it. Over the years it would periodically become unbalanced an try to beat itself to death before I could get to it. Oh, and did I mention that it got an awful stink that was tough to get rid of (mildewcide, disassembling and scrubbing the wash tub, hot water...still took many months to purge it)--but I blame that stink on a less than satisfactory utility space in the Deep South that created the problem in the first place. And it really didn't like large loads, the agitator couldn't really circulate them.

    The new front loader will sense out of balance and shut down. Had a few out of balance episodes early on while learning how to best load it--think I've seen the code three or maybe four times in 2 1/2 years. We did do a tub wash cycle about a year ago...probably should do one again just to be sefe.

    Only time will tell on reliability and maintenance. It will have paid for itself and the 5 year replacement warranty I got on it at the end of its 4th year (only 18 months from now.) Hard to see how I can lose on this one. My primary concern would be a control board failure or drive failure.

    My in-laws have had a front loader for at least 5 years now, no problems and they haven't taken half the precautions we have until recently (such as leaving the door and detergent trays open, using HE detergent.)
  8. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    The only frontloader dryer with a swinging side door I ever had was about 6' in diameter and you rolled a cloth cart up to it to unload it.

    Front loader washers are just a new gimmick to give the wives something to show off. Stack it on top of the hinged DOWN dryer, and now your getting a bit closer - except a spin dry cycle turned on its edge breaks every rule in the design book.

    The best are european top loaders, with a top lid, and SS drum and hinged door on one end, they are totally quiet - how they manage to deal with the absolute absurdity of standing a centrifuge on its side is beyond me. They still let the neighbors know when its spinning often.

    You can buy several standard top loaders [NOW] that meet all energy standards and more because they can run the spin speed up double that of the silly side spinners. And because so many people moved their front loader to the scrap yard after the 1200$ repair quote.

    Your not going to be doing ANY repairs to your frontloaders. Well maybe you can change the door gasket when your load ends up on the floor. But next month the $800 Chinese control board with 400 transistors on it will smoke out.

    My 350$ Kenmore is going on 15 years with one drive flex ring repair [no more belts] And no warranty, and never needed one. And you can sort clothes on the adjacent table and slide the pile right into the hole. Try that on front bomber.

    Lately I have been dissasembling old top loaders with my excavator for all the women that needed to keep up with the joneses, and gave them away. cutting out the wires and motors, and saving a few for parts.

    A pallet of flat washers brought in about 600$ They pay about 1$ pound for insulated wire now too. theres my next GE or whirlpool! as long as they still dont say hecho in mehico.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  9. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    Meanwhile, back in the real world...

    Front loaders aren't some "new gimmick", they've been 90% of the market in Europe. (Of course backwardness in the U.S. market has done wonders for our manufacturing base and competitiveness...not! Being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century relying on less efficient tech has resulted in us not building much of what the world/we need.)

    Can't say that the front door bothers me at all. It's a straighter shot from there into the drier than I had with the old top loader. But I can see why some prefer pedestals and such.

    I want to see the one that spins at 2100 - 2600 rpm for that "double" claim you made. Not sure where you get your spin rate info from, but it appears to be backwards. The front loaders spin faster than even the HE top loaders as best I can tell. Being as drying energy use reduction is the biggest money saver for this washer (and ironically not shown in the Energy Star ratings) I'll stick with the front loader. I did find some large 1100 rpm top loaders that cost about $250 more than what my front loader did, and use about two and a half times as much water... More typical values appear to be in the 800 rpm range for HE top loaders. My front loader has 1050 rpm spin, some others range from 1100 to 1300.

    As far as I could see in the current energy star listing the best of the top loaders come in at about 50% more water use than my front loader. That of course still beats the old traditional top loaders handily.

    A problem I see that you have overlooked is that to get an HE top loader, it looks like you have to get away from the simplicity of the older models...removing that advantage. Otherwise you have ones like a GE I was reading about a few minutes ago that had no out of balance sensor and nearly tore the utility room apart. I've had plenty of experience with walking top loaders...and with rpm increases the issue becomes more acute.
  10. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    The europeans went with front loaders because they wash about 1/4 of clothes as americans, they look like dishwashers and fit usually, under the kitchen counter. Their average kitchen is smaller than our laundry rooms.

    And they use those condensing dry cycles that just do not work. When they get here, they wonder how they ever survived.

    Besides being a new sales pitch, we are seeing front loaders because the Europeans bought most of our appliance makers.

    http://www.homeeverything.com/web/sitefiles/product.asp?sku=25808&ref=c****** [one of many]

    Consumers reports gives about 7 top load whirlpools and kenmores the energy star and same water efficiency as the Front loaders. Which means they extract about the same amount of water on spin, no matter the speed.

    2100 rpm? sounds like a woodworking router.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
  11. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

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    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    That will be news to my in-laws who live in Europe several months each year and have had the condensing dryers. I quizzed my engineer father-in-law about it several times and he seemed to think it worked just fine as long as you emptied the water out as you were supposed to. (I would like to get my hands on one for some comparison tests...there is a fair chunk of energy that could be conserved in a system that worked.) Of course back in the states they also have a 5+ year old front loader that is still chugging along without problems.

    Water efficiency and energy efficiency of the washer are not the same as extraction efficiency. That is the part of the evaluation missing in the energy star ratings from what I've seen--they've historically ignored the drying part that is the most energy intensive part of washing without a clothes line. That's why I did my own econ, just as I would for a plant project. Plant experience has taught me not to trust others' bases until I've evaluated them myself. But perhaps Consumer Reports did an evaluation of water extraction and drying energy. (I did mine based on an actual differential weight of several similar loads before and after drying in both washers--yep, engineering curiosity.) I haven't tested the 5 speeds on mine, I only use the "extra high" = 1050 rpm setting.

    That was what I said when I saw the "double" speed claim.
  12. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    From consumers reports. Some of the new top loaders have no agitator, and thus hold enormous amounts of clothes. That is energy savings that does not get factored into the "energy star" ratings. Which I believe are manufacturer [hah] determined.

    And I dont want my washer in the garage or my Chinese 800$ IC board to be bouncing around.

    THIS is the washer we need: coin op for our beer money and this will keep the wife from washing her 4 favorite pair of panties at a time. Probably would last 40 years.

    http://www.speedqueen.com/vend/en-us/products/top-load-washers.aspx
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2011
  13. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    Front loaders don't have the agitator either. And can hold the same capacity as HE top loaders from what I can see on the Energy Star list of actual volumes. And of course in both cases you pay for that extra capacity. It is far more than we would want for most loads, which would make the larger capacity (with more water and energy use with every load) inefficent for us.

    Good, then you will be happy with a basic front loader. Mine is in the utility room just like it's predecessor and would have worked in every home I've ever resided in. Since it can sense out of balance (unlike even some of the HE top-loaders) there is no need to worry about the board vibrating...like you have to worry about top loaders potentially tearing the hoses from the wall when they decide to take a walk.
  14. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

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    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    When your back gets old and tired, and some other obscure diseases start to take over life, lifting clothes into a front loader becomes a chore not needed.

    That top loader flush with the folding table means granma can do her own thing for an extra 10 years, perhaps. Thats worth a hundred energy stars.

    I would go for the commercial coin op and NOW you have an energy star that really works, and money for that trip to hawaii.

    The new top loaders without an agitator should not walk, as they are built horizontially, as a centrifuge can only be made.
  15. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    Well, one of those HE top-loaders I was reading about the reviewer complained about the machine having that very problem and it not having a sensor to shut it down when that happened. Out of balance is going to be an issue with any centrifuge. There is a large shaped concrete block inside of my front loader near the top to dampen the vertical component of any out of balance as I understand it.

    I haven't designed or worked on centrifuges but I don't see why a horizontal wouldn't work. (Indeed I can locate vendors selling them for industrial applications.) Horizontal makes sense for a batch wash application like this where one wants to minimize water volumes.
  16. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

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    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Funny how reviews of the same item go from love of my life to piece of dog crap.

    For about 2$ every washer ever made should have a shut down for vibration. Ask any pinball machine.

    Trouble is, with a front loader how does one figue out the issue? With a top loader, you can see the arrangement and deduce the problem.

    My main point is user friendliness of top loading, and simpler components.

    This rig is a true USA hybrid, but I hear that quality may be dropping off. Lots of Euro mini models of this design. Its also designed to be user serviceable, so they say.

    http://www.staber.com/
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  17. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

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    Amen to that. Takes awhile sifting through them to find common problems and sort out the clueless reviewers from the handy ones. And some times you notice a problem occurred in early production of a model, but disappeared later. Or a problem shows up after a few years.

    It might be just a sensor but I think it is detecting load or rpm variation in the motor as it spins or something like that. If a load is way out of balance it won't gin up even from low speeds. You can hear the motor load changing considerably through a rotation when it is unbalanced. It detects the problem after holding at a speed for a few rotations, halts the gin up, stops, does a few very slow rotations the other way, stops and reverses a few times trying to redistribute the load and drain water, then makes another go of spinning up. If unsuccessful it will try this numerous times before halting and giving an "unbalanced" error message. If it is nearly balanced, it will go up to higher speeds before it gets stuck in this loop. Sometimes these loads will finish if the balance issue is caused by something in the load that holds a lot of water and needs time to shed it. But the simple solution is just to open the hatch and redistribute the load, then continue the cycle. After a few times you get the hang of loading it for the wash cycle so that big items don't end up in lumps off to one side during the spin. It's easier to balance this than dealing with imbalance from the old agitator type--because sheets/blankets/covers are the main offenders in both types and they can be a bear to get out from the agitator.

    They are sensitive to being well leveled though. And I wouldn't put one on a weak floor that wasn't rigid. That would invite unwanted vibration.
  18. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    What amazes me about my Kenmore top loader is that it can run out of balance, bang into the dryer like someone is there with a sledge hammer, and the damn thing does'nt break. I can imagine when no one is home, the whole cycle runs in hammer mode.

    I suppose once that sweater looses its water, the hammer subsides. I would not load a unit with one heavy cotton blanket and 50 pairs of nylon underwear. But a lot of women have the brains of fleas in the laundry room. Top, front, or bottom load.

    From about 12 to 16 years of age, our drycleaning and tailor shop [started 1916] taught me a bit about clothes. And steam piping [and I am afraid unwanted knowledge of asbestos] ..... Gramps from europe and my great-great uncle's sewed mens suits all day and smoked camels as fast as they would burn. Would cost you 10,000$ today. Mean as bulldogs and lived to be 95 easy years.

    My parents and some workers ran the delightful cleaning portion, with the old style solvent which was [luckily] very close to paint thinner and kerosene. I think the machines, very much like todays washers except 10 feet long, were 40 years old and never repaired except for shear pins on the extractors. They had diatomaceous earth filters, and of course extraction was essential to stay in business. We drew straws to decide who cleaned the filters.

    What most people dont know is that most clothes went into the bank of speed queen standard washers with seperate extractors, because crap and normal dirt didnt come out in the kerosene. I would avoid dry cleaners like the plague with the new solvents.

    The first guy that puts a backwash filter on his washer will get the 10 star energy rating for water saving.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  19. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison New Member

    Messages:
    891
    Location:
    Midwest
    I wondered if that was what broke the original transmission on my Whirlpool way back when. I don't recall that preceding the failure and the warranty guy acted as if this was a common problem on them at the time, but I still wonder.

    We've had a standing rule for 20 years not to leave home with a wash load running (same rule with stuff in the oven/on burners.) I've had to wrestle with the homocidal banging top loader enough that I never eased this restriction.
  20. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    So the ultimate beauty of a top loader is if you leave the lid open, it wont spin, and you can go shopping. Or away for the day.

    Clothes get a great and needed soak..... I wouldnt try it with a front loader.
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