Is Hot Water from the Water Heater Safe to Drink?

Find out how drinking hot water can affect your body.

It looks so easy. Open the tap, and hot water will flow out from the fixture, plumbing, and water heater immediately. You can vary the temperature and choose the one you prefer. Excellent! Specialists recommend drinking warm water for health and preparing the dishes with already heated water - faster and simpler...

However, the problem exists.

Most experts agreed that hot water from the water heater should not be drunk or used for cooking.

Is it true that hot tap water is significantly harmful to us? What makes hot tap water dangerous? Does the problem exist with all types of water heaters, and can it be solved?

We have looked for the answers to these questions.

Why may warm tap water be dangerous to drink?

Gas water heater

Water from the tap must have drinking water quality. This is strictly monitored, as the health departments regularly check water quality. This is, at least, an obligation of the water supplier or distributor.

The plumbing system of your house may pose a certain risk, for example, if it is old and made of outdated materials.

We are still talking about tap water in general. Leaving aside that there are different opinions even about cold water use (some experts propose filtration), let's see why hot water from the tap may present a risk to human health.

There are two factors that affect water quality change – staleness and high temperature.

If water is left in pipes for more than four hours, you have to let it run for about 30 seconds before drinking. This guarantees that stale water is removed. Stale water may contain impurities from pipes and from all materials with which it has come into contact. The same is with water from the water heater tank, where the water stays for hours.

Water temperature exacerbates the situation. Water is solvent. Heating increases the migration of metals into the water – for example, the solubility of lead in water is twice as high at 77 F as at 59 F., and it is just lead that is still present in some metal pipelines.

There are some other toxic metals that could be found in water pipes, fittings, fixtures, and other products – such as copper, galvanized iron, stainless steel, and also plastic. Different elements can pass into the water. Overnight, for example, the values of the copper, lead, or nickel from the fittings can be exceeded. Above all, with plastic pipes, germ developing may increase.

In addition to traces of lead in water, maybe the best-known threat is Legionnaires' disease. But there are many misunderstanding about that. Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella – tiny rod-shaped bacteria that can only multiply in stagnant water. If inhaled with contaminated water vapor, Legionella can cause disease. On the other hand, there is no risk of infection if germinated water is drunk or used for washing hands. Notifiable disease occurs very rarely.

Legionella is killed when the water heats up to 60 degrees. This is also the prescribed temperature for hot water storage in residential buildings. Germs can, therefore, only form if residual water is in the pipes for a long time.

If you want to drink warm tap water, after all...

There is no dilemma – drinking warm water is, in principle, the most appropriate to a human body. We need water to stay hydrated, and water temperature plays a role. By drinking too hot or too cold water, we bring our organism more or less in turbulence – stomach, intestine, and circulation must muster the energy to adjust the fluid to body temperature. Under certain circumstances, more energy is consumed here than absorbed. Consequently, warm (tap) water is the ideal drink from a health point of view.

If you ignore all the warnings and want to drink warm water directly from the tap, minimize the risk. Improve the quality of hot water.

First of all, remove any doubt about the quality of the water that comes into your home.

Make a water test in the local laboratory to see what is inside. The chemist and microbiologist will give you expert advice on the scope of analysis – it is usually for bacteria, lead, copper, or other heavy metals.

If the pipes and fixtures require additional maintenance or refurbishment, do it.

Tankless water heaters are safer than heaters with storage tank, but the potential problem with pipes and the other parts that come into contact with water still exist. New models are better.

Never use hot tap water to prepare infant formula. Babies, small children, and immunocompromised persons should not drink water from the water heater.

Like it or not, hot water from the water heater is not safe. Although the operation takes longer to complete, obtain the hot water for drinking or cooking from the cold water tap and heat it to the desired temperature. Provide fresh and cold water from the pipe. If it feels a little warm, you should let it run until it is fresh and cool again. In this way, you avoid quality reduction due to the long stay in the line.

Find Trusted Plumbers & Get Free Quotes