Steam Shower Problems

sanjeevJanuary 11, 2008

I have a couple quick questions on steam showers that I was unable to find the answers to by using the search function.

The first problem is that the steam generator used for the master-bath in a new home build is way too small for the shower size and materials used for the walls. After leaving it running for about 40 minutes, the steam generator would shut off after only reaching a temperature of about 90 degrees. The plumber has agreed to change the unit out for a larger size, but I want to make sure this time it will actually be the right unit for the shower. The unit that is in there now is a SM-8 from Steamist, and he wishes to change it for a 15-50P (I think) from Thermasol. The shower is 7'L x 4.75'H x 8.5H with granite tiles and an outside window. Does anyone have any recommendations on what manufactures that would be good? I was unable to find out too much on Thermasol, and Steamist reviews are sparse as well.

The second problem/question is should the steam shower be relatively airtight, or are gaps needed in the door? The builder has said that there needs to be air exchange and that is why there are gaps in the steam shower in the basement door, but when I asked him why there are no gaps in the master-bath door or seal, he replied they are there, but you just can't readily see them.

And finally onto the third problem. Although I was able to quote Bill V. (Bill V, thanks for all the information you provide to the forum) and told the builders the slope specifications for the steam showers according to the TCNA handbook, they still neglected to put a proper slope in. They felt that a slope of 2" over the entire length of the shower was more than adequate. (The builder has a steam shower in his new house that does not have any slope to the ceiling.) They have agreed to fix this problem, and I was wondering if there is anything I should be concerned or aware of when they try to tackle this task. The builder has expressed that it will be easy to just frame it crate a new ceiling, but after all the problems encountered in the build, I am very hesitant to trust him.

My parents have been living in the house for a couple months now, but did not realize some of the problems until I came home to visit over Christmas. Unfortunately, I will not be back in the area for a few more months, but I hope to provide some guidance to them as they try to get these and other problems fixed.

Any suggestions you can provide are greatly appreciated.



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Sanjeev, I'm going to answer your email here in public, instead of by email. I have a feeling alot more than just you could benefit from the answer.

In addition to these issues, I just got off the phone with my mother and found out that there may not be a proper vapor barrier for the steam showers.

He's only half right. A vapor barrier is NOT required in a steam shower. It NEEDS to be WATERPROOFED. A vapor barrier is no where NEAR adequate.

You asked for a spec. Have them look up in the TCNA Handbook (it'll read exactly the same in ANSI specs) Steam room method SR614 (which also covers steam showers).

The following are REQUIREMENTS, not suggestions, and copied verbatum from the TCNA Handbook:

*Steam rooms require a waterproofing membrane on all surfaces to prevent moisture from penetrating adjoining spaces.

*slope ceilings (2" per ft. minimum) to avoid condensation from dripping onto occupants (sometimes sloped to center to minimize rundown on walls).

*waterproof membrane must be capable of withstanding heat exposure.

*all steam rooms will require adequate insulation on walls and ceiling to reduce moisture condensation at temperature variations.

THERE ARE REQUIREMENTS, people!! They MUST be followed!

I wonder if you would be able to take some time and explain in a short summary what should be done for the steam shower to be constructed in a proper manner.

ANY steam shower needs to have a seamless membrane from ceiling to floor. In other words, it needs to all be connected. That's the biggest difference between a steam shower and any other. Even the pan membrane must be connected to the rest of it. Although by far, they're not the only two membranes, the only two I've ever used was Hydroment's Ultraset, which is a liquid urethane goop that gets troweled with three coats over all surfaces (except the floor-- it gets troweled over the preslope and sealed to the drain flange, and then the final mud slope goes over it inside the membrane), or Kerdi, which goes over everything, INCLUDING the final (and in this case, only) mud slope.

It is paramount that it be completely watertight, and whatever is used for the membrane must be vapor proof, as well as waterproof. Believe it or not, not all waterproof membranes ARE vapor proof, and they WOULD also require a vapor barrier. Examples that come to mind right off hand would be either one of Laticrete's waterproofings-- Hydroban or 9235.

At this point, I don't know what else you need to know. If I can help, don't hesitate to contact me.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 2:28PM
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I bought a steam shower fro the Direct Group which I would not recommend to anyone - model H52
The plumber discovered that the flexi hose seals were no good and when I tried the sitting down showers these seals were rubbish and wet my new ceiling. I phoned and had a replacement for one which with great difficulty I fitted myself.

I e-mailed and twice I was told the manager would be in touch but nothing!! I would have thought that these units would have been factory tested?

After a lot of trouble it is working OK.

Keith Ball

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 9:12AM
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I was having the same problems with a shower i had installed in a house i recently bought, after initially using the shower for the first time I realised it was leaking steam from out the joints onto the roof where the paint was then dripping down to the floor, the old tenent obviouly masked this and painted a new before i bought :( . Anyway i quite liked the shower unit and upon visitng a friend that had a steam shower that didn't leak steam from everywhere, I bought a new one and i never looked back. I think it was from a company called
Anyway just my take

Here is a link that might be useful: steam

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:45AM
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I'm having a bathroom remodeled and am going to install a steam shower. My concern is if I want a regular shower, and there's no ventilation (because the steam shower needs to be sealed), how do you end up taking a regular shower? I thought about installing a window so I could crack it, but what happens in the dead of winter?
Thanks in advance. I really need your help.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 8:51PM
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