Several Guideline Suggested for Effective Steambath
With the increasing focus on health combined with the busy
lifestyle of most Americans, people are opting to spend more time
and money on their home.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.