Shower System Building Codes
When installing a shower system, it is important to observe proper building codes to ensure your safety and protect your home. Here are a few of the most common building codes you need to know before you get started on your project:
1. Building codes now require all new valves to be a pressure balance valve or a thermostatic mixing valve. This is for safety reasons, as the pressure-regulating valve increases pressure should there be a drop in pressure while using the shower. For example, when someone flushes the toilet, this valve will prevent the person showering from being scalded by a surge of hot water. However, if you are not already replacing your valve, existing valves in good condition may remain.
2. Bathrooms must have at least one window that can be opened or a mechanical ventilation system. Mechanical ventilation systems must remove air outside the house and may not recirculate the air. Proper ventilation is important due to high humidity and moisture levels associated with showers, which can cause damage to the interior of your house.
3. Walls above bathtubs with installed showerheads and shower compartments must be finished with a smooth, non-absorbent surface, such as laminated plastic, fiberglass one-piece units, acrylic sheet materials, Corian®, cultured marble or solid surface sheet materials, ceramic tiles, marble tiles, natural stone tiles, and other ICBO approved surfacing materials.
4. Shower wall surface must extend up to 70” above the drain inlet. When installing the shower enclosure, approved enclosures include shower rods/curtains and safety glass (includes laminated glass and tempered glass).
5. Shower doors must open outward and have a minimum door opening width of 22 inches with a 2” to 9” dam.
6. All penetrations of the surfacing material such as the shower head and valve body must be caulked. Built-in tubs with showers must have waterproofed joints between the tub and adjacent wall to keep water and moisture from getting into the supporting floor and framing.
7. Finally, when gypsum board is used as a base for tile and wall panels in showers and tubs, water-resistant gypsum backing board is required. However, it is not recommended to use gypsum board at all in wet areas, as it provides the perfect environment for mold to grow. This is a review of some of the most common building codes, but it is still important to consult your local building codes when installing a shower system. You can also check the website for the IAPMO (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials), which will inform you on the UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code). Another resource to check for Building Codes is the Alliance for Healthy Homes.
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