Selecting shower fixtures for public facilities used to be fairly simple: A shower was a shower. In recent years, however, the choices have multiplied. Specifying showers today begins with understanding the user and the type of facility. That, in turn, dictates considerations such as privacy, energy savings, ease of maintenance, resistance to vandalism, and compliance with codes and regulations.
Consider the following when selecting showers for locker rooms in schools, health clubs, or recreation centers, as well as in private showers in hospitality facilities:
Budget constraints and privacy concerns have dictated major changes in school locker rooms. Gone are the days of huge group shower areas. Some schools have eliminated showers altogether to free up space, but many new schools install showers to serve varsity athletes and to meet local building codes.
To conserve water, several schools install showers with metering valves. Electronic metering valves are the most reliable and have a circuit board sealed within a pod to keep out moisture. These valves can be set with a longer running time to both encourage thorough showering and to eliminate flow interruption after 15 seconds. To provide a safe showering environment, a thermostatic mixing valve should be installed to control water temperature and prevent scalding.
For budget-strapped schools, hinged pivoting wall showers can be quickly installed and have components that are easily accessible for maintenance or repair. Another option is column shower units with partitions that create space-saving clusters of shower stations. Similar to toilet partitions, these low-profile “modesty modules” are built around prefabricated shower fixtures. In addition to offering privacy, they also resist vandalism.
For private high schools and universities, individual showers with private changing areas are common. Security remains a concern; however, to ensure that students stay out of trouble, most schools compromise some privacy for some monitoring capability.
Health Clubs & Recreational Facilities
Privacy is also a concern here, where members prefer not to shower and change clothes in open areas. Similar to schools, modesty modules are replacing large group showers. The stainless-steel partitions grouped around the showerheads typically include a stall for showering and another area for dressing, separated by a curtain.
When memberships are important to maintain business, it’s vital that these showers offer a clean and appealing finish to invite visitors to use the facilities. Pressure-balancing or thermostatic shower valves should be provided to allow the user to safely select the water temperature.
Lodging & Hospitality Sites
High-end hotels are installing luxurious spa showers to give guests the comforts of home - or better. At the end of a hard day of sightseeing or business meetings, users want the ability to take unlimited hot showers at any hour.
In an effort to keep their brand top-of-mind, hotels prefer an escutcheon customized with the company’s logo. To meet the needs of the hospitality industry, plumbing manufacturers offer coordinating showerheads, tub spouts, and hand-held showerheads with slide bars and wall hooks for complete washroom solutions.
New shower fixtures with the latest pressure-balancing valves that incorporate long-lasting European ceramic cartridge technology can help reduce maintenance. These long-lasting cartridges have no wearing parts that will need to be replaced, and the valves allow for back-to-back wall installation, saving on costs.
Ryan Pfund is the shower and thermostatic mixing valve product manager at Menomonee, WI-based Bradley Corp. (www.bradleycorp.com).