BURN INJURIES – HOT WATER SYSTEMS

Case Description

ARCCA was asked to investigate a case where a child was burned when placed into a soaking tub in her relative’s home.

Steps Taken

ARCCA’s expert:

  • Reviewed photographs of the injuries.
  • Researched data regarding the property and its history (i.e., when was it built, permits) as well as the building’s systems (heater, hot water system)
  • Performed a site inspection.
  • Inspected the hot water heater in the basement as well as the temperature of the hot water coming out of the hot water heater.
  • Inspected all of the plumbing fixtures within the home. Tested the hot water temperature coming out of the other fixtures. Tested the hot water temperature of the tub. Maximum temperature reached was around 145°F.
  • Searched and determined that there were no other hot water heating devices between the boiler and the tub.

 

Final Findings

Based upon site inspection, review of written materials, and engineering research and analysis, ARCCA’s expert determined the following:

  • Except for the incident tub, all other fixtures (sinks, shower, and shower/tub) were single handle valve devices which automatically include mixing of the hot and cold water supply. In other words, the hottest water temperature from all of these other single handle valve devices is colder than the hot water actually being supplied to the devices.
  • The tub was a two handle, two valve device with a separate handle and valve on the hot water supply and cold water supply.
  • When the tub was installed in the home, the boiler hot water temperature was set to supply a maximum hot water temperature of 120°F to all of the other single handled fixtures. However, because the tub had a separate valve for hot water, the hot water to the tub was significantly hotter than all of the other fixtures within the home.

Therefore, it was determined that the injuries claimed were a result of differences in the fixtures between the incident tub and the rest of the home. The incident could have been avoided by either setting the hot water boiler temperature based on the hot water supply to the tub, or by adding a local mixing valve to the plumbing of the tub. However, water temperature should always be checked by an adult before placing a small child in a bath.