Home steam showers are in vogue today in upscale homes, condos and hotels. These units offer the luxury of saunas or steam rooms usually found in commercial salons and spas, now available for private use. These individual units can come with several problems unique to home steam showers. Savvy consumerism and careful maintenance can keep these problems to a minimum.
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Steam showers are one of the most popular bathroom amenities selected by those customers who have extra cash, according to Steve Dolby of SteamShowerReviews.org. Steam showers are enclosures designed to hold water vapor created by a steam generator. They usually are equipped with amenities such as foot massagers, phone and music outlets, seats and body jets that turn a home bathroom into a "mini-spa."
What Consumers Should Know
The luxury of a steam shower can come with some obstacles. Most, if not all, of these issues can be managed by a savvy consumer who knows the necessary specifications for installation, or by a responsible homeowner who cares properly for his/her investment. Resource materials, such as books and publications, can offer tips and information on steam showers. Before you buy, make sure that the unit you choose comes with an installation guide and user's manual, and take the time to read them thoroughly.
Problems can arise when the installer is unaware of the requirements surrounding proper steam shower installation. In order to protect the house around it from humidity and water damage, steam showers are required to be fully enclosed in a waterproof, vapor-proof membrane capable of withstanding significant heat. In addition, a sloping ceiling of 2 inches per foot minimum is required over steam showers to prevent water dripping onto shower users and must have adequate insulation surrounding the walls and ceiling to reduce moisture condensation in surrounding areas due to temperature variations. According to Bill Vincent on GardenWeb, customers can refer their plumbers/installers to "the TCNA Handbook ... Steam room method SR614 (which also covers steam showers)."
Once the steam shower is properly installed, other issues may arise during use. If any of the shower's seals leak, steam will escape and damage the bathroom's ceiling and, potentially, walls and crawl spaces surrounding the room. Replacing the seals may be a possibility; if the seals are fully integrated into the shower, the whole unit will need to be replaced. The other common issue with steam showers is the buildup of calcium. Calcium can build up in the steam generator or the pipes, creating an inefficient system and leading to shower malfunctions and high utility costs. Installing a carbon filter in the bathroom, as well as regularly cleaning the steam generator, shower head and drain with a citric acid solution or cleaning product such as CLR, can minimize problems with calcium buildup.