Several Guideline Suggested for Effective Steambath Installations

Several Guideline Suggested for Effective Steambath Installations

Whether they're remodeling or building a new home, the bathroom continues to get bigger, bolder and more beautiful. 

The master suite an integration of bedroom, bath and auxiliary spaces is the newest feature of the bathroom's expanded identity. Exercise equipment, saunas and steambath generators have all become popular options in the new master suite. The following are some of the requirements that kitchen and bath designers and their subcontractors should be aware of when it comes to installing steambath units in today's homes. 

1. Pre-installation 
Ensure that the steambath generator has been sized properly for the steambath room. Attention must be paid to both room construction and size. Steambath manufacturers offer detailed sizing guides that will enable installers to properly specify the model required for the space.

Pay particular attention to the construction of the room. Exotic materials such as marble, stone and glass block will affect room size. The physical size of the unit, along with clearance for plumbing and servicing and its distance from the steam room, should be considered before final installation. Lastly, steambath generators are connected to a 240v line; a licensed electrician should make all connections. 

2. Structural Requirements 
Steam room doors must be fully enclosed with full walls, door, floor and ceiling.
A steam door should be used in this application. All steam doors are gasketed and work ideally for both steam and heat containment. If a tile-type floor is used, anti-skid strips should be installed to ensure safety. All walls and ceilings must be covered with a water-resistant, non-corrosive surface, such as tile, molded acrylic or cultured marble. A floor drain should be provided in the shower. When necessary, slope the ceiling one-quarter inch per foot away from where the prospective bather will be sitting to avoid condensation dropping on the steambather. 

3. Location
Ideally, it's best to locate the steam generator within 25' of the steam room. Some of the more common locations include an adjacent closet, a vanity cabinet, a heated attic or a basement. The majority of steambath manufacturers utilize controls that are ideally located inside the steam room. Provisions must be made to run the cable from the generator to the shower and the control should be installed into the wall per the instructions of the manufacturer. Most controls simply plug into the generator as easily as plugging in a telephone.

4. Plumbing Requirements
When preparing to plumb the steambath generator, it's always smart to locate the unit near the water supply pipes. It's highly recommended that a union be used on all pipe connections. Use copper tubing or brass piping only for the job and never use black iron, galvanized or PVC pipe.

When initially installing the water line to the unit, one should open the shutoff valve and allow water to flow into a bucket for a few minutes to flush the line. After this is completed, turn the water off. At this point, a threaded adapter is connected to the generator's water inlet and the pipe is then run to meet the open pipe at the shutoff valve. The two sections of the pipe are linked with a union, tightening it with two adjustable wrenches.

Once this has been accomplished, a threaded adapter is connected to the generators water outlet, along with a short length of pipe and union. The pipe is connected to the steam room. It's recommended that the steam line be insulated using pipe insulation rated 250Þ F or higher. The steam line should also be pitched to avoid valleys and trapping of condensate. The steam line should be pitched one-quarter inch per foot toward the steam head or generator.

When installing the steam head, it's normal to locate the head 6"-12" from the floor, except in the following two cases:

When the unit is installed in a tub/shower enclosure, the head should be installed 6" above the tub top ledge.
If the unit is installed in an acrylic shower stall or other non-heat-resistant material, the steam head should be installed 20"-30" from the floor.

Always install the steam head as far away as possible from where the seat is located. Ensure that the steam head is installed with the steam emission slot facing downward. 

Many manufacturers provide a manual or automatic drain valve to facilitate servicing of the unit. Check with your local plumbing codes for receptor, trap or venting requirements. Most steam generators drain by gravity. Safety valves must also be connected where permitted by local codes.

5. Wiring the Generator
All electrical wiring of steambath generators should be installed by a qualified electrician in accordance with local and national codes. 

The first step when wiring is to check the power voltage at the house. One must use minimum 90_ C/300V copper conductors only, sized in accordance with national and local electrical codes for the proper amperage and wire size for the unit being installed.

Steambath generators require a separate circuit breaker between supply and unit. The controls supplied with the generator are connected to the generator with a separate cable usually provided by the manufacturer. 

Following these installation guidelines will provide your customers with many years of enjoyable use of their steam generator, and will allow bathroom design professionals another avenue of profit when it comes to remodeling or new construction.

Dan Reinert

Dan Reinert is the sales and product manager of the New York-based Sussman Lifestyle Group, a premier manufacturer of steam-related and other luxury bath products. He wrote the guidelines above exclusively for Kitchen & Bath Design News.