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Home Steam Showers: Installing a Steam Bath - Part Two

Apr 10, 2008
To have steam bath in your own home, you need the proper sized steam generator. Most manufacturers provide guidelines for choosing a generator that take into account the size of the steam room and the materials used to construct it. Generators are usually rated by the number of cubic feet of the steam bath, but additional capacity must be added if your steam bath is made of heat absorbing materials such as glass, concrete, or marble.

Once the proper steam generator has been selected, you have to decide on a place for it. The generator should be installed in a low traffic area. Possible locations include bathroom vanities, bedroom closets, or insulated attics or basements. The steam generator should not be installed outdoors or in a cold location.

Most steam generators can be installed between 20 to 40 feet away from the steam bath, giving you plenty of options when choosing its location. Besides being in an insulated spot, it also needs access to electricity and water. There should also be a drain close by.

The electrical connection usually 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 to avoid any gullies that could trap condensation. Pockets of condensation could prevent the proper flow of steam, resulting in a dangerous build-up of steam pressure.

One final consideration about where to install the steam generator is to make sure that it is accessible for servicing. Although most units are quite dependable, you don't want to be tearing open walls if yours stops working.

Installation

Even though either hot water or cold water can be used to feed the steam generator, hot water is preferable because it will create 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 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 1/2 inch copper pipe. The pipe is run from the generator to the steam head in the bath. The steam head should be installed low, between six and twenty-four inches from the shower floor.

As noted above 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.

With all the connections soldered properly you can turn the water heater back on and allow it to fill with water. As the water reheats, 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 instructions 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. Do not use the steam bath immediately, however. Wait at least one full day to allow the connections to dry properly.

Installing a steam bath can be done by anyone with moderate plumbing skills. If you have not done this type of work before, hire a licensed plumber to install it for you. If you decide to do the work yourself, it would be worthwhile to hire a plumber to inspect your work before using it.
About the Author
Mike Hirn is a longtime steam enthusiast. His website supplies a wealth of information about the construction, use and health benefits of home saunas and steam showers.
www.the-home-sauna-center.com
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