You’re up early to get ready for work on a cold wintry morning. You haven’t had coffee yet and wish nothing more than to be back in your warm bed but duty calls; the bills aren’t going to pay themselves. Bleary eyed and exhausted you manage to get yourself into the shower where the warm water from your shower head flows down your body making this early morning wake-up call just a bit more palatable.
Just as you are getting comfortable and starting to wake, your son saunters in to wash his face; he has school and his sister is using the other bathroom. Before you can say “Nooo!” he turns on the water and your morning wake up shower has just turned into a frigid rush of arctic ice water fresh from the Alaskan Tundra. You’re awake now, forget the coffee.
The way to ensure that this never happens to you again is simple: 1 – lock your door or 2- install a thermostatic mixing valve. A thermostatic mixing valve is very easy to use – you just set the valve to a desired temperature and the water will remain at the right temperature for your entire shower. If there is a fault in the hot water supply line, the sensor in the valve will shut the cold water off so that you’re not left with a down pour of ice water and thus prevent thermal shock. Conversely, if the cold water line should ever fault, the sensor will shut off the hot water supply so as not to cause scalding and burns. Any spike in temperature will be addressed almost instantly.
A pressure balance valve, although cheaper and somewhat effective at preventing burns does have it’s limitations. Pressure balance valves are generally single-control valves. You turn the single lever or knob and essentially get full flow out of the shower head or tub faucet. How far you rotate the valve sets the temperature of the water. For the most part there is no true volume or flow control. Each time you turn the valve ON you’re getting full flow, rotating the valve simply sets the temperature.
There is a “maximum temperature limit” on Pressure valves, but in general it’s more of a mechanical limit that restricts how far you can rotate the lever versus a true limit on the maximum water temperature that can come out of the valve. You set the water to as hot as you’d like it to be, then you adjust a set screw built in to the valve. The set screw limits the valve from being rotated beyond that setting. It essentially limits the maximum “hot water” to “cold water” mix ratio coming out of the valve. If the water temperature on the hot water heater were to ever increase, unless you change the set screw, you are at risk for burns.
Major plumbing supply manufactures like Hansgrohe, Kohler and Grohe make very stylish trim kits to go with their Thermostatic Mixing Valves. Better yet, their valves typically ship factory set to prevent temperatures above 100-105 degrees. Safety should always be a primary concern especially if you have little ones at home, and a thermostatic mixer valve will protect them from burns.
If you are looking to do a bathroom makeover or just replace your shower system, come by Classic Kitchen and Bath Center in Roslyn Heights, Long Island. Our design experts will help you identify the right style and design. We have a large selection of manufacturers of Thermostatic Mixing Valves as well as trim kits. We will work within your budget to meet your needs.