Custom Shower Water Concerns
Whether you are designing a custom shower system or simply adding a couple of body sprays, water is an important consideration; Where it comes from, how hot it is, how much pressure, and then, where it goes once it’s done its job.
Here are the most important water considerations, explained, that you should consider to make sure your custom shower is the pampering retreat you had in mind when you started.
Do You Have Enough Under Pressure?
Water pressure – it’s the one kind of pressure you can relax under. When constructing your custom shower, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate water pressure to keep all those outlets flowing. Manufacturers recommend at least 50 psi for a system with 3 or more outlets such as shower heads, body sprays, and handheld showers. If your water pressure is lower than 45 psi, you'll need to install a water booster pump.
The Heat Is On
One of the most important, and often overlooked, factors to consider is your source of hot water. What could be more disappointing than doing all the work to install the shower of your dreams, and have it run out of hot water in a couple of minutes? For example, if you install a shower with one shower head at 2.5 gallons per minute and six body sprays using 2 gallons per minute, you are going to be using 14.5 gallons of water per minute, which would drain a 50 gallon tanked water heater in just over three and a half minutes. That's not very long to experience the benefits of a custom shower! Manufacturer recommendations suggest upgrading to a minimum 100 gallon tanked water heater or installing a dedicated tankless model.
Upgrading to a dedicated tankless water heater is the best scenario to ensure an adequate hot water supply for your custom shower, as tankless water heaters provide unlimited hot water. Just make sure you choose one with a flow rate that can handle the draw your shower requires. Flow rate is listed in the specs of tankless water heaters and is calculated by determining the average "temperature rise" required (that's the difference between the incoming water's temperature and how many degrees it needs to rise to reach the desired hot setting) - the colder the incoming water temperature to begin with, the higher the temperature rise, which reduces the flow rate of hot water. In winter, flow rate will be lower than in summer, when incoming water is cooler by nature of the weather.
Doing More With Less
Another way to extend the length of time you enjoy hot water in your custom shower is to look for body sprays and shower heads with lower flow rates—current EPA standards restrict new shower heads to 2.5 gallons per minute but some manufacturers sell shower heads and body sprays with lower flow rates because of the current trend toward water conservation, however this is also beneficial in a custom shower systems by stretching out the usage of your hot water if you are relying on a tanked water heater.
You’ve got pressure and you’ve got the heat, now you need to be able to have some control over how the water enters your custom shower. You’ll want to make sure you have a volume control valve on each shower head or set of body sprays, so you have the ability to adjust the rate water comes out of the various features you’ve installed.
How to Get More Pressure
Other plumbing considerations include your supply lines to your shower as well as drains. Standard 1/2" supply lines will restrict your water volume, so installing 3/4" lines would be idea. In addition, make sure your drains can handle the increase in water. Multiple water outlets can flow several gallons of water a minute each, so in order to not find yourself standing in a pool, you'll need to install at least two 2" drains or one 3".
By making sure your water is ready to support your custom shower, you’ll have most of what you need to build the shower system of your dreams. So go ahead and sing in the shower, and enjoy!
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