A possibility exists, albeit small, that a pathogen may contaminate a water heater and survive (in a few cases, even grow), if the hot water temperature is maintained at 120°F or lower. However, because hot water directly from the water heater is usually not ingested, this should not be a safety concern. A water temperature of 140°F for a half hour should kill virtually any pathogens (including Legionella) in the water heater.
After the boil water advisory is lifted, will the water heater be contaminated?
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