How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left?
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Yes, the building code requires “hot” to be on the left as you face the water outlet (spigot) (IRC 2722.2). This means that if a faucet is on the side of a bathtub, like in the photo below, the hot water valve must be on the left when viewed from inside the tub, but would be on the right if approached from outside the tub.
The purpose of this left-side requirement is to avoid accidental scalding by turning on the wrong faucet. Although it is recommended that water heater thermostats be set at 120º F to avoid a skin burn from a stream of exclusively hot water, many homes have the temperature set higher, so scalding by turning on the wrong faucet is a real possibility. Verifying that the hot water service is on the left is one of the things checked during a home inspection, and occasionally find the hot/cold reversed.
Scalding prevention in a shower is addressed by a building code requirement for a single-handle anti-scald valve that prevents the water temperature from rising above 120º F. See our blog post Why are shower water valves all single-handle nowadays? to learn more.
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