Ask the Plumber: Work with a professional to create a custom shower
Q: I'm getting ready for a bathroom remodel that will include a custom shower stall with body sprays on the shower wall. I have good water pressure for the body sprays and shower heads. But I still have a lot of questions about the job. Can you please give me some additional advice on installing a custom shower stall? -- Barry, Illinois
A: A custom shower stall is basically created according to the space available, and the needs of the homeowner. Custom shower stalls can include multiple shower heads and body sprays, so not only can the construction of the stall be a little tricky, the plumbing can be complicated as well. For these reasons I recommend working with a licensed master plumber. With that said, here are some issues to discuss with your plumber when planning a custom shower with body sprays:
Codes and permits. First, make sure you can run multiple shower heads in your stall. Some water-restricted areas of the country may only allow the use of one shower head at a time.
Water-heater size. Professionally calculate the total hot-water load needed. If your present water heater cannot keep up, a larger water heater may have to be installed.
Water lines and mixing valves. Depending on the "gallons per minute" needed, properly sized water lines and mixing valves are important for proper water flow. Pressure loops in the shower piping may also be needed.
Diverter valves. Finally, use diverter valves to control the water flow to each shower zone. This can save water and give you a more comfortable custom shower, without feeling like you're in a car wash!
Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" the host of TV and Internet shows, and a LEED green associate. Visit eddelgrande.com or write firstname.lastname@example.org. Always consult local contractors and codes.