Installing a Home Steam Bath – Part Two
Selecting and installing the residential steam bath generator.
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If you just arrived at this page from somewhere else, this is Part Two of this topic. You might want to read Installing a Home Steam Bath - Part One.
Ready? Okay, let's continue our discussion.
Selecting the Steam Generator
For your very own steam bath you need the proper sized residential steam generator.
Most manufacturers of these esoteric items can provide guidelines for
choosing a generator which take into account the size of the steam room
and the materials which have been used to construct it.
Generators are commonly rated by the number of cubic feet of the steam
NOTE: Additional capacity must be factored in if your steam bath is
constructed of heat absorbing materials such as glass, concrete, or
Location, Location, Location
Once the proper steam generator has been selected, you have to decide
on an installation location for the generator. A residential
steam bath generator should normally be installed in a low traffic area. Possible
locations include bathroom vanities, bedroom closets, or insulated
attics or basements.
NOTE: It is important tha the steam generator NOT be installed outdoors or in a cold location.
How Low, or Far, Can You Go?
You actually have a lot of leeway here. Most steam generators
can be installed up to 20 to 40 feet away from the steam bath, which
gives you plenty of options when choosing a location. Keep in
mind, however, that besides being in an insulated spot, it will need
access to electricity and water. There should also be a drain
The electrical connection probably has to be 240 volts
and the water supply can be either hot or cold. The line from
the steam generator to the steam bath should have a slight slope and
avoid any dips or gullies that could trap condensation.
Pockets of condensation could prevent the proper flow of steam, and
this, in turn, can result in a dangerous build-up of steam pressure.
You May Want to See It Again Someday
One final consideration about where to install the steam generator --
make sure that it is accessible for servicing. Although most
units are quite dependable, you don't want to be tearing open walls if
your steam generator stops working.
Actual Installation Itself
Even though either hot water or cold water can be used to feed the
steam generator, hot water is generally preferable because it will help
the steam generator...well...generate steam faster.
To make a connection between your hot water heater and the steam
generator you must first turn the water heater off and drain
it. Cut the pipe from the water heater in two places to
install a tap. After the tap has been soldered into place,
run a line from it to the steam generator.
With the steam generator finally in place, make the connection from the
hot water heater to the generator and solder it. The steam
outlet is now connected to the steam bath with ½ inch
copper pipe. Thepipe is run from the generator to the steam head in the bath.
The steam head should be installed low to the floor – between 6 and 24 inches from the shower floor.
As noted previously, the steam pipe needs to have a slight downward
slant and must be free of gullies or turns that could trap
condensation. Once it is in place and the connections
soldered, wrap the steam pipe with insulation to avoid loss of
heat...or burning somebody.
Now Become a Control Freak
With all the connections soldered properly you can turn the water
heater back on and allow it to fill with water. As the water
is re-heating, connect the controls to the steam generator.
The control panel can be placed either in the steam bath or on the
outside wall, but it must be installed away from the steam
head. Follow the manufacturer's directions for making the
connections between the generator and the control panel.
Plug in the steam generator and test it by using the control panel
to turn it on. If everything is connected properly the unit
should light up. Don't use the steam bath right away,
however. For safety, wait at least 24 hours to allow all the
connections to dry properly.
Difficult? Nah! Not really.
Despite seeming a little scary, this is actually a job that can be
handled with anyone with moderate plumbing skills. Of course,
if you have not done this type of work before, you may prefer hiring a
licensed plumber to install a steam bath for you. If you
decide to do the work yourself, it may be worth while to hire a plumber
to inspect your work before using the steam bath.
Parts and Pieces
If you do decide to turn this into a DIY project, you may have a bit of
trouble finding parts for a home steam bath locally. In the end, most parts are simple plumbing supplies and can be
picked up at Home Deport, Lowes, or perhaps even WalMart.
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