HOT. water. ouch.
November 28, 2010 3:14 PM   Subscribe

How to help a friend prevent scalding every time she washes her hands!

My friend lives in an apartment in Paris. She moved in a couple months ago and will only be staying until the spring, but she has a problem. Her hot water is HOT and she wants to know what can be done to prevent scalding. The landlord apparently has no idea how to change the temperature. It seems that my friend has a hot water heater right in her apartment (above the toilet).

Here are some pictures. The quality is quite poor!

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4, Photo 5, Photo 6

I honestly have no idea if any of these photos are relevant, but I want to help stop this constant scalding! Thanks for any help.
posted by sucre to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Uh, can't she just turn the cold water on a bit at the same time to moderate the temperature? That's what I do every time I wash my hands, every sink I ever use.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Maybe I'm missing something, but what's preventing her from mixing cold water in at the faucet?
posted by floam at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2010

It might be the case that she has separate faucets for the hot and cold water. Does she have one or two faucets, sucre?
posted by barnone at 3:22 PM on November 28, 2010

Assuming nothing else works out, I would suggest keeping a basin at the sink - or perhaps simply plugging the sink. Mix hot and cold in the sink or basin, wash hands.
posted by kavasa at 3:25 PM on November 28, 2010

Use cold water to wash hands?

Also, she could figure out where the boiler's thermostat is and there tends to be a tiny dial to adjust temperature. This may be hidden underneath a cover so not entirely obvious.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:26 PM on November 28, 2010

If there's an adjustable thermostat, it's going to be under the big white cover that's in the middle of picture 3. It looks like she'll only have to remove 2 screws to get that cover off.

If she finds that there are any exposed wires under that cover, then she should shut off the power at the switch on the right side of photo 5 before messing with anything.
posted by jon1270 at 3:34 PM on November 28, 2010

Like jon1270, if that's her only water heater, I my guess would be the diagram in this photo depicts what's below the plastic cover on the bottom of the tank - I think the left-hand picture shows some electrical connections and a temperature selector.

Definitely turn off the power at the switch to the right of the tank before removing the cover, and if your friend isn't the handy type they might want to ask a friend who is to help them out - I don't know how plumbing is done in France, so it's possible I'm wrong!
posted by Mike1024 at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2010

I couldn't find an online manual for this model (Fleck 75 VMI), but I agree with jon1270 - if there is a thermostat control it'll be under that white hood. The likeliest candidate is that dial pictured on the sticker in Photo 6 (with the one, two, and three dots), but if your friend speaks French they might want to call the manufacturers at 01 55 84 94 94 to walk them through it.
posted by Paragon at 3:45 PM on November 28, 2010

The first Paris apartment of Mrs. Paris had an instant hot water heater which would inevitably produce a surge of hot water at the sink soon after adjusting the mixing valve and heater to our liking. In our current flat, we have central to the building (incredibly) hot water and no mixing valves at any sink — but every sink does have a stopper. Do like we do now: fill the sink douse, soap, rinse (yes, in that same water), pull plug, dry. This is exactly how I learned to wash my hands some decades back.
posted by Dick Paris at 4:55 PM on November 28, 2010

Washing her hands in cold water may work. Alternatively, are anti-bacterial gels an option? Not as good as hand-washing IMHO, but useful in a pinch.
posted by cheapskatebay at 5:15 PM on November 28, 2010

My understanding is that this is how Europeans wash their hands with sinks that have separate faucets for hot and cold: put the plug in the sink. Fill up with cold and hot water. Wash hands. Drain sink.
posted by Lobster Garden at 5:24 PM on November 28, 2010

Or, on preview, what kavasa said.
posted by Lobster Garden at 5:25 PM on November 28, 2010

In picture #6 there, the word hidden by the pipe with the arrow that points to the dial and starts with a T is almost certainly "thermostat".

That's where the dial you can turn down is, for sure.
posted by mhoye at 5:30 PM on November 28, 2010

Thanks for all the answers so far. I left out an important detail- my friend pays for her water bill each month, and along with being an annoyance, the super hot water might be wasting energy (and money). I'm not sure how it all works, though.

And yes, I think she has two separate faucets (at least at one of her sinks).
posted by sucre at 1:11 AM on November 29, 2010

The cost would be reflected in her electricity/gas bill, not her water bill and is probably marginal.

If she adjusts the water temperature she needs to make sure she doesn't reduce it too much because this thing heats:
- all her hot water including water for washing dishes (assuming no dish washer), baths, showers etc so needs to be fairly warm for those things and also
- will be a safe haven for bacteria as opposed to somewhere too hot for them to thrive if it's not hot enough.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:27 AM on November 29, 2010

I have a Fleck too (not this model) and the solution is certainly under the white hood and probably not very hard to figure out. The guys who installed mine set the temperature very hot too so I have to be careful but it's actually very useful as koahiatamadl said. Another point is that I can turn it off for a week or more and still be able to take a shower when I come back.
posted by elgilito at 9:09 AM on November 29, 2010

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