Anti-Scald Device Installation
Anti-scald Tub & Shower Faucets Descriptions & Installation Tips
Hot water in many homes poses a real danger. As adults, we know how to adjust faucet valves to avoid getting burned. Curious little children and elderly people, however, can and do get burned on a regular basis. What's more, sometimes adults get injured by falling in a shower when the water temperature rapidly changes. In an effort to move out of the way from the hot stream of water, a person can easily slip and fall.
Fortunately, new tub and shower faucets are available which can minimize the chances of getting scalded from hot water. However, there are important differences in the faucets. Some of them are not foolproof. It is important for you to know how these faucets work, so that you can purchase one which offers the necessary protection for you and your family.
How Hot is Hot?
Very few people that I am aware of know the actual temperature of the hot water which comes out of their faucets. It isn't something that people normally check. The reason, I believe, that most people don't know this is because they rely on their own personal pain threshold to monitor hot water temperatures. However, this isn't consistent among adults. And what's more, little children and elderly people have more sensitive skin.
118 degree F water generally is the average temperature which produces pain in healthy adults. A rise of just 2 degrees, to 120 degrees, will produce immediate discomfort, should you put your hands in water at this temperature. In order to receive a first degree burn, you would need to leave your hand in a constant stream of this water for eight minutes.
However, as the temperature of hot water rises, the time it takes to get burned decreases dramatically. At 130 degrees F, it takes just about 28 seconds to receive a first degree burn. Raise the temperature to 140 degrees F, and it only takes 3 seconds. If you expose your skin to 140 degree F water for just 5 seconds, you will receive a blistering second degree burn. For these reasons, you must learn to respect the ability of hot water to quickly take someone by surprise. The best initial defense to prevent burns is to adjust your hot water heater so that it is discharging water at 120 degrees F. Purchase or borrow an accurate thermometer to check this.
The Three Types
Anti-scald vales can be manufactured in such a way as to respond to differences in temperature, pressure, or both. The safest valves are those that respond to both temperature and pressure differences.
Virtually every major plumbing code has adopted a section which calls for one of these valves in every shower or tub / shower combination.
The least expensive valve to manufacture and market is one that responds to pressure changes only. In many instances of residential scalding, pressure differences can be traced to a majority of scalding events. However, these valves can still deliver scalding water, if, by chance, the temperature setting of the hot water heater is increased after the valve is installed! In these instances, the valve must be recalibrated. Not everyone knows this.
Thermostatically controlled anti-scald valves are usually very expensive. They often cost hundreds of dollars. In fact, I priced a major manufacturer's valve here locally as I wrote this bulletin. Their chrome tub and shower thermostatically controlled valve retailed at $522.00 plus tax!
Some pressure balanced valves can be purchased for less than $100. However, depending upon the manufacturer, finish, options, etc. you can easily spend $150 -250 dollars on a pressure balanced valve.
It is important to note that there are two different types of pressure balanced valves, the piston type and the diaphragm type. Both types are reliable and operate on similar principles. Simply put, if the cold water pressure decreases, the valve responds instantly to limit the volume of hot water to prevent scalding.
These valves are great products and you should consider installing them if you don't already have them in your home. Children, being the curious creatures they are, have a habit of twisting and turning tub and shower valves. Accidents can be prevented, as long as you have one of these valves.
Anti-Scald Faucet Features / Options
Tub and shower faucets have come a long way in the past 5 - 10 years. Prior to 1985, there was a very limited selection of faucets, styles, and finishes. Times have changed!
Tub and shower faucets offered by each manufacturer often are available in 5 - 10 different styles. Some manufacturers have 15 - 25 styles! The finishes can range from chrome, antique brass, polished brass, gold, painted, brushed chrome, etc.
Many manufacturers also offer interchangeable parts, so that you can mix and match handles, trim plates, etc.
The latest fad in the top of the line faucets are multiple head shower systems that feature shower heads and other spray heads that aim water at your body, arms, and legs. A word of caution. If you are leaning towards polished brass finishes, or any other finish than chrome, check to make sure that the finish has some sort of long term guarantee. Bathrooms can be filled with harmful chemical vapors, believe it or not!
These vapors can harm some delicate finishes. For example, certain hairsprays, deodorants, or other spray products emit fine sprays into the air. These sprays vaporize and can coat and react with your plumbing fixtures. Chrome is a very stable finish and is rarely harmed by these vapors. Ask hard questions and get the answers in writing to be safe. Some of these valves, as you will find out, are expensive. They can also be quite expensive to replace. Remember, the warranty doesn't always include labor for replacement, so you must do your homework in order to avoid disappointment.
Anti-Scald Valve Installation Tips
Modern faucets, especially anti-scald faucets, have sensitive inner parts which can be damaged by heat, sediment, rust particles, debris, or sand. Newer faucets often contain high-tech plastics that have long term performance characteristics. However, we all know that many plastics will melt or deform if subjected to high temperatures!
The first thing to do when installing a new faucet (and I might add that this first step is often forgotten by professional installers) is to thoroughly read the instructions that come with the faucet! I know this takes 10 minutes, but, really, it just makes sense. For example, some faucets have a top and a bottom which isn't always clearly marked. Often it is important where the hot and cold water lines are connected to the faucet. Reversing the water lines may cause a malfunction!
If you are not experienced at soldering, absolutely buy a faucet that has threaded connections. These faucets are piped with adapters that change from threads to soldered fittings. Always try to solder a stub of pipe into the adapter first, away from the faucet. Let this cool before applying pipe dope or Teflon to the threads. After installing this assembly into the valve body drape a wet rag over the connection to the valve before soldering the next fitting. The wet rag will absorb heat that may damage the valve or melt the pipe dope.
Always adequately flush the water supply lines before making your final connections to the valve and piping. Small bits of solder, flux, pipe dope, teflon, rust, sand, etc. can clog or cause a malfunction in the anti-scald mechanism.
When you eventually turn on the water to the faucet to test for leaks, turn on the water supply valves slooooowly. Turn on the hot and cold water to the faucet at the same time. Do not pressurize one side (hot or cold water line only) at a time! Too much pressure too fast can jamb the anti-scald mechanisms! I often turn on the lavatory and kitchen sink faucets to allow the overall system pressure to be lowered. Because several valves are wide open (both the hot and cold water side) not as much pressure and volume will be pushing against your new valve. Just make sure you don't forget about these faucets being on! Once I flooded a kitchen because I failed to realize that the drain was slow. The sink filled up while I was in the bathroom finishing my work! Oh well, live and learn.
Remember, these valves are sensitive and often expensive. Take your time and you will have great success!