Apr 122011

The shower valve is one of the most important parts of the shower. Even so, most people have no idea of what it actually does, or that there are many different makes and models that are available to them.

Therefore, before you begin any kind of bathroom remodel or renovation and especially if you are changing showerheads, you should have a basic understanding of what the valve does and what options you have.

Manual Valve

The least expensive type of shower valve on the market is the regular or manual valve. These valves do not regulate the temperature of the water nor do they control the pressure. This is the type of system that is in place if you’ve ever been either frozen or scalded in the shower.

Additionally, if this were not bad enough, if someone in the house decided to run the dishwasher, you might have had your shower reduced to a steady drip.

Pressure Balanced Valve

The pressure balanced valve is the one that you will find in most homes today. This valve is probably the one that you have in your bathroom right now. It normally consists of a single handle and a single control. When you turn the handle to the left, the water gets warmer. You do not control the pressure.

With this valve, you do not have to worry about other people using the water while you are showering. The valve is set to accommodate any changes in both temperature and pressure automatically. If someone does flush the toilet, the temperature in the shower should not vary more than a couple of degrees.

These shower valves often incorporate what is known as a diverter. This small valve allows you to direct where the water comes out. In many of these systems, the diverter control is on the faucet. This changes the water from flowing out of the faucet and directs it to the showerhead.

Thermostatic valve

The other option available is known as a thermostatic valve. This permits an individual to set the temperature of the water and regulate the pressure. There are separate controls for both. This feature is great for shower safety and for anyone who plans to install a shower with multiple outlets or for performance showers.

Shut-off valve

For additional water and utility bill savings, you should consider a shut-off valve or on-off button. With this device, you simply push a button or turn a lever to turn off the water from the shower head. When you’re finished soaping up, simply turn the water back on. The water returns and you don’t even have to readjust the water temperature.

Shower Valve Installation

A shower valve is not difficult to install, depending on exactly what you intend to do. If you are doing a simple replacement job, you can most likely do the job yourself in a matter of hours.

However, if you are planning to go with an extremely elaborate shower with multiple heads and different types of valves, you are probably better off getting a plumber or contractor to do the job. If you are going to put out thousands for a custom shower with special rain atmosphere showerheads, the installation is not where you want to start pinching pennies.

There is also a matter of building codes and insurance. As with any type of remodeling, you will have to find out exactly what the codes are in your area. In many cities, you are no longer permitted to install regular valves. For shower safety reasons you must put in either a thermostatic valve or a pressure balanced shower valve. If you do have any problems or the shower leaks and causes water damage to anything in the house, you may discover that your insurance is not going to cover the costs if you did the renovation yourself. Sometimes it is simply better to get a professional.

Feb 042011

In Part 1 of this series , we considered 4 features of bariatric shower benches: weight capacity, construction, materials, and dimensions. In this part, we’ll look at 5 other important features of these shower seats: seat height, legs, backs and arms, fit in shower or tub, and cost.

Remember, bariatric shower chairs are made to help people who weigh over 250 pounds feel safe and comfortable when sitting in a shower.

Seat height: This measurement can be important, especially if you are tall. You want your feet to rest comfortably on the shower floor when you are sitting in your seat. Otherwise you may be off balance. While sitting in a comfortable chair, measure the dimension from the floor to where your bottom is on the chair. This is usually from 14 to 19 inches. Some shower chairs have seats that are adjustable. Make sure the seat can adjust to the height you need.
Drive Deluxe Bariatric Heavy Duty Bath Bench with Backrest

Legs: You don’t want your shower chair slipping around in the shower. Make sure that the legs have rubber tips or suction cups on them to hold the chair in place when you’re using it in the shower.

Backs and arms: Some models are available with backs and some come with backs and arms. People find that having a back or back and arms provides added support, especially if you are overweight. The back prevents you from leaning too far back in the seat and the arms can help you get into and out of the chair. Attached arms can limit the width of the seat, so if you do want arms, make sure the width of the chair will still accommodate your body. Medline Bariatric Bath Bench without Back

Fitting in shower or bathtub: These bariatric shower chairs are designed for use in a shower. But remember that they will take up space in your shower. So check the chair dimensions against the dimensions of your shower so you know you’ll have enough space left to get in and out of the shower. Also, if you are going to use these chairs in a bathtub, check its size, as bathtubs are often smaller than showers. What’s more, some tubs are curved on the bottom, making it difficult for the shower chair legs to stay flat. Some people find that they have to turn the chair sideways to use it in their tub, which can decrease your stability when sitting on the seat.

Cost: You will probably pay a little more for a shower seat with bariatric support. But it is well worth it for the comfort and safety. Also, chairs with backs and arms will also cost more. You can find these chairs on Amazon and in local pharmacies or large chain stores. Prices can vary a lot, so be sure you are comparing similar models with similar dimensions and features.

NOTE: Some overweight people use wheelchairs. For you, bariatric transfer benches are available. These transfer benches are long seats that provide extra support legs in the middle. You can then more easily move from your wheelchair to sit in your shower.

Jan 132011


Just like its name says, the built in shower seat is a seat which is permanently built into the shower. The base can be made of ceramic or concrete. The seat is then finished with tiles or granite. The beauty of the built in shower seat is that it is both attractive and a very convenient way of making a shower more comfortable.

Some built-in shower seats run the length of the shower. Others are simply built into the corner of the shower. (For more info, read Choosing a Corner Shower Seat.)

You can have this type seat constructed either during the building of a house or during the process of remodeling a house.

Shower Bench Benefits

The basic purpose of the shower bench is convenience. It can be used for sitting while taking a shower. This is very important because people who are ill or weak may need the support the shower bench provides while they shower. But even healthy people can also use the bench to more easily shave their legs or when using a pumice stone, for instance.

Other uses of the built in shower seat include the fact that it can serve as a safety measure. Without a seat or bench in the shower, the user is more likely to slip and probably have a bad fall if he or she has to stand amid the slippery water and soap suds. With a shower seat, this is less likely to happen.

If the shower bench is long, it can also be used for storage. Shampoo bottles and brushes as well as kids toys can all be left on the bench. Using the bench for storage means you won’t have to have any of those plastic accessory holders hanging from your shower head.

Another important element of the built in shower bench is its visual appeal. The bench can be covered with different sizes and colors of ceramic tile. But other materials, such as marble and granite are available. Depending on your design choice, you can add quite a bit of style and class to the shower.

Shower Bench Installation

In terms of the actual installation of the shower seat, it makes a lot of sense to use products of the highest quality. Attention should also be given to the fact that the shower seat will be in a place that is constantly wet. Therefore, durable and water-resistant material should be used.

Installing a shower seat in the shower after the house has already been built will involve a bit of remodeling. Therefore, it makes sense to apply the basic rules of architecture to the process. Be sure you plan for a seat height and width that will be comfortable for all users.

You should also plan for a slight slope in the bench to allow the water to run off and into the shower.

You must also install moisture proofing along the top of the shower bench and seal all spaces that water can get into. This will ensure that there will be no leaks. More to the point, this will make the whole system last longer and function more effectively.

The shower bench is not really a complicated thing to build into a shower. In some cases, it may be possible for an individual to construct one without the services of an expert. There are many online sites that offer construction advice.

For best results though, it might be better to involve professionals to get the job done. This ensures that you will get the best use of your built in shower seat.


The built in shower seat will be more expensive than the fold-down shower seat or the standalone shower seat. That’s because of material and construction costs. But for your money you do get a long-lasting and visually appealing addition to your shower.

Video Version

Nov 232009

Installing grab bars in your bathrooms can greatly reduce the risk of people ever falling on the slippery surface. Not only is water slippery, but the soaps that you use have a tendency to build up on the shower floor, causing a very slimy residue that can become incredibly slick when it’s wet.

A slick and/or wet floor poses a danger when you enter or leave the shower as well as when you move around in the shower. A slippery bathtub also presents a danger when someone is getting in or out of it.

Someone can even lose their footing or slip when getting up from a toilet.

Having a grab bar to hold on in these situations can greatly reduce the risk of slipping and falling. This is especially important for adults over 65. For them, falling is the leading cause for emergency room visits. But don’t forget the problem someone can have if they are temporarily disabled such as when their foot is in a cast.

There are two primary types of grab bars: the wall mounted and the portable.

Wall-Mounted Grab Bars

The wall mounted grab bar is a cylindrical bar that is permanently screwed into the shower or bathtub wall. It will help people remain steady while getting into and out of the bathtub or shower and when they are moving around in the shower. It will also allow them to raise and lower themselves should they use a shower seat or built-in shower bench in the shower.

Before attaching the portable grab bar make sure the enclosure surface is smooth, non-porous and free of oils, dirt, or anything else that would prevent a tight fit. Then press firmly down and make sure the release levers are locked in place. Test the bar to be sure it can keep you steady before actually using it.

If the suction cups on these types of grab bars are made of mostly natural rubber, they can be incredibly strong. As long as you prepare the surface properly prior to installation, you should be easily able to use the bar to keep yourself stable when getting in and out of the shower.


Everyone can benefit from using grab bars in the bathroom, not just seniors or people with disabilities. Using a grab bar can save people a trip or two to the chiropractor, and possibly even the emergency room.