For those of us with older bathrooms, jumping out of the shower or flattening against the wall may be an instant conditioned reaction to the dreaded sound of a flushing toilet. While nothing ruins a relaxing shower like the blast of cold water after a faucet is turned on, the scalding water that follows a toilet flush can be downright excruciating.
In many older homes, the water valves are not pressure-balanced, which can cause these abrupt changes in temperature. This is especially dangerous for young children because they are burned more easily than adults, who have developed thicker skin. Seniors and people with physical disabilities are also at a greater risk of injury because they might lose their balance during an abrupt change in water temperature.
There’s a solution: anti-scald valves! They help regulate the temperature of the water that comes out of the shower head, and have them installed by a professional plumber.
Why Do Water Temperatures Fluctuate in Older Homes?
Water temperature fluctuations occur because of the way the plumbing is set up. As you shower, the hot and cold pipes that carry water to your bathroom have to mix the hot and cold water in the exact ratio you selected for your shower. If no one else uses any water, your water temperature will remain the same, but if someone flushes the toilet or turns on cold water in another area of the house, some of the cold water that was flowing into your shower escapes. Now the mixture of water coming to you in the shower has a much higher concentration of hot water and a much lower concentration of cold water.
What Does an Anti-Scald Valve Do?
A couple different types of anti-scald valves exist:
- A pressure-balanced valve
- A thermostatic shower valve
A pressure-balanced valve compensates for water-pressure changes before the water comes out of your shower head. If either the hot or the cold water decreases, the shower valve balances the pressure and reduces the flow of water of the opposite temperature, so your shower temp remains constant. In the event that the cold-water flow becomes significantly reduced, a pressure-balanced valve often reduces the amount of water flowing from the shower head to a trickle.
A thermostatic valve offers the user more control over the flow of water in the shower. You can turn the water off to shave or soap up and then turn it back on again, retaining the same temperature. These valves cost considerably more than pressure-balanced valves, so price-conscience consumers should do some price comparisons before purchasing either shower valve.
Other things to consider before deciding on a valve?
- The number of showers you have
- Your family’s usage of each
- Personal preferences in temperature
Installing an Anti-Scald Valve
While it is possible to replace your existing shower valve with an anti-scald valve on your own, this job generally calls for a professional plumber. Replacing a two-handled system with separate hot and cold faucets requires removing a section of your tile or shower wall.
Anti-scald valves can make showering safer and more pleasant for you and your family if you live in an older home. Because water temperatures can fluctuate, causing showers to reach extreme highs and extreme lows in temperature, installing an anti-scald valve will make your shower temperature more stable. Contact C&W Plumbing for help and advice!
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