Master Shower - Body Sprays

sweebyNovember 20, 2008

I'm helping a friend design her master bath renovation, and she's wanting to put in body sprays (2 per side, so 4 total) in addition to a regular shower head. No rain shower or hand-held. The existing shower is 30 years old, and supplied by what we're assuming (no demolition has been done yet) is 1/2" copper pipe.

I'm wondering if the existing supply lines will adequately supply all of these water heads or if she'd need to run a 3/4" line instead. The lady trying to sell her $3,000 worth of plumbing fixtures assures us that "It's done all the time - works fine!" But I've got my doubts...

She said to transition from the existing 1/2" line to a 3/4" line for 5-6 feet before switching back to 1/2" lines right before the fixtures. I'll freely admit that I know very little about plumbing, but this doesn't make any sense to me. I would think you'd need to run 3/4" line all the way from the 3/4" trunks to shortly before each fixture for optimal performance. But that means drilling into concrete slab.

Hopefully someone here will know --

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The supply lines need to be sized properly the entire length for them to supply the shower. You can't run 1/2 inch pipe, go up to 3/4" pipe and have any impact on water volume.

To definitively answer the question of "what is properly sized?" you would need to have some more information about the shower head... such as it's flow rate, the distance from the main to the shower, etc. However, a cursory answer is that a 1/2 pipe isn't going to do that. In addition, you need to look at the capacity of the water heater to supply that amount of water and the ability of the drain to empty that amount of water. A shower head @2 gpm +2 body sprays @1.6 gpm each is moving about 5.2 gallons of water per minute. That would drain a 40 gal water heater in about 8-10 minutes.

Look, this whole fad of multiple shower heads is hugely wasteful of both water and energy.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 5:37PM
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oops. just noticed that you were looking at 4 body sprays, not two.

No way, no how are you going to do that with a 1/2 inch pipe.

Same issues only worse with drain and water heater.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 3:01PM
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With 4 body sprays and a shower head, you will have potential flow at a rate of about 12.5 gallons per minute if all are full open at the same time.

12.5 gallons per minute equates to about 8DFUs.

8 DFUs requires a minimum supply piping of 3/4".

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 12:11PM
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12.5 gallons per minute of flow equates to about 8 WSFUs (water supply fixture units).

DFUs (drainage fixture units) are used for drainage calculations.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 8:00AM
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Jakes calculations above are pretty close. For example, a Hansgrohe Raindance shower head is 2.5 gpm. Their body sprays are 1.6 gpm each. That works out to about 9 gpm total. This is the setup that we have, and with the Thermobalance valves (rated at 6 gpm) I can basically have one or the other but not both. In retrospect, I wish we had put in separate valves.

Also, consider a tankless hot water heater.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:10AM
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The water use is 8-9 gpm. That is a ridiculous amount of wasted water. Period.

Depending on water inlet temps, it would take two tankless heaters, including gas supply upgrades, to power that.

It's just stupid waste of resources.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 8:52AM
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:) The reality is that the body sprays get used about 2% of the time. The body sprays were more of a 'fun' thing than a basic requirement.

We have a single Rheem tankless driving the whole thing. I think it is rated around 7.5 gpm. The tankless also supports a spa tub and one other bathroom. I have a second Rheem for the rest of the house (another bath, the laundry, and the kitchen.)

> It's just stupid waste of resources.

Well, maybe it helps make up for the stupid 1.6 gal toilets that we are forced to install. I can't believe that 1.6 gal is enough to 'cleanse' the lines all the way to the street...

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 12:13PM
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We have four Kohler body sprays (9l. per minute each) in our MB. They're running off 1/2" supplies with no problems. Other than testing it a couple of times, we've never used it in four years. Resale value only. I see now they offer low flow versions at 6l. per minute.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 8:07PM
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wws944 - really? "stupid 1.6 gal toilets". Aren't we talking 15 year old code. You'd think people would be over that. And your house is set up for upwards of 15 gpm of hot water (presuming your Rheems are equal sized).

I'm sorry but that really is a "stupid waste of resources" - as are body sprays. The good news is that it is a rare "Hummer" driver who actually uses body sprays regularly.

Sorry for the off topic rant but there is no shame in wasting resources anymore. I am building a high end custom home and would not do body sprays. I know that I would use them once and then conclude that they are a terrible waste of water (and the NG to heat the water). Now if I had solar hot water heater.... I can get over the water waste issue depending on where you live.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 6:41AM
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: ... really? "stupid 1.6 gal toilets". Aren't we talking 15 year old code. You'd think people would be over that...

DH (watching the game): Ahh. Life is good.

DW: HONEY. The kids plugged the toilet. AGAIN.

DH: sigh. The game is...

DW: PLUNGE IT - NOW! The kids are late for soccer.

DH: But...


DH: stupid &*(#@#$&*) government mandated &*()&*%^&^%( toilets..

DH: Wheres the plunger?

DW: I put it in the garage. It didn't look...pretty.

TV: That was one of the greatest plays in football history! Watch this replay!

DH: Stupid &*()#&*() government mandated &*()^(%^%^* toilets...

Gov't mandated 1.6 gal toilet: splush. splush. urk. blech.

DH: Ok, its done.

TV: Wasn't that great? Now some words from our sponsors...

DH: &(*)&*^&^% next time &*()&*(&^&^ Al Bundy Mighty Ferguson U*OP*&&*^&*^%^%$

: ... I am building a high end custom home and would not do body sprays. I know that I would use them once and then conclude that they are a terrible waste of water...

(Next week. Overheard at the high end custom home next door):

DH: Gosh this game is good. Hey honey, come check out the 1080p on my new big screen!

DW: Here is some fresh popcorn and a cold one.

DH: Oh baby. Come snuggle with me.

(game continues)

DH+DW: (crunch, crunch, snuggle, snuggle)

DH: How 'bout we take a nice post game shower together.

DW: Mmmm....

DH: Maybe I'll even turn on the body sprays and get us nice and steamy...

DW: Purr....fect...

DH: BTW, did you hear about the couple down the street? D*** was watching the game last week. And right in the middle of it he had to plunge the kids toilet. Missed the best play I've seen since Howard Cosell was announcing.

DW: I sure am glad we paid the extra $1500 for those fancy toilets that actually work.

DH: Yeah. Its too bad that when the government bowed to the pressure groups, the Japanese held the 'good' patents. So the American manufacturers ended up losing about 10000 good paying jobs as a result...

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 11:17AM
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Wow! A mind IS a terrible thing to waste.
or as GWB said: "It's terrible when you lose your mind".

I think either quote would work in this instance.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 3:21PM
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DH: Gosh, the city is passing water rationing laws - what do they have against green lawns!

DW: Haven't you heard, the reservoirs are almost empty.

DH: I thought we won the battle with the farmers over who would get the water.

DW: We did, and for a while it was great that we could take a shower and wast six gallons a minute down the drain - If we need food, we just go to the store and get it. Why all the fuss about farmers and crops?

DH: And didn't we win the court battle with the state down river from us over water rights?

DW: Yes, but reservoir is still going dry.

DH: Hey, I got an e-mail from Danny, he said the fighting is pretty bad.

DW: I'm so proud our son is in the middle-east defending our patriotic right to drive a Hummer and waste huge amounts of energy to power our 100 gal water heaters. I can't imagine how inconvenient it might be if we had to live the same way as people in those third-world European countries.

DH: Which third-world European countries?

DW: You know, France, the United Kingdom, Germany

DH: I'm sure glad we don't live like them!

DH: Hey, I heard our neighbor, Bill, lost his job.

DW: What happened?

DH: Seems those danged foreign companies started building energy efficient cars and appliances and the company he works for couldn't get a government bailout so they are going out of business.

DW: That's terrible.

DW: It is terrible. You know I don't know how he's going to afford all that medication for his bad joints, diabetes, high blood pressure and such, just like you.

DH: Yep, the doc said I was morbidly obese - I didn't think that was very nice.

DW: I'm sure glad you don't have to get up off the couch too much.

DH: Me too!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 4:27PM
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Dual flush toilets are mandatory in Oz. Next come composting toilets. Before you know it, the gummit's gonna take away that soothing splash of a job well done. "From my cold dead a##" I say.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 8:00PM
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American Standard Cadet 3 - about $220. Very, very hard to plug up. I've had many 1.6's that would plug up but a decent one will not.

It is about the design not the amount of water. I've plugged many old toilets too.

Worthy - really? I mean is it that hard to pick which method of flush to do. I will have to say that they are expensive - but often that is a function of volume. Once the government mandates them, the price comes down. I hate government intervention but when it comes to preserving resources, it really is in our best interest. I am very conservative politically but that doesn't equal libertarian. No rules does not work.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 5:15AM
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Well, first off, how about everyone gets off their soap boxes and stops preaching what is a waste and what is not.

If you want body sprays, go for it. They are no more of a "waste of resources" than anything else we have the luxury of having (3,000+ sq ft homes, 60inch+ TVS, high cielings, multiple cars, whirlpool tubs, large refrigerators, etc).

In terms of water usage - yes, you can "get by" with 1/2, but 3/4 will make a very noticable difference. Keep in mind when these folks on here say your going to drain a water tank in such a time - your not using 100% hot water - its being mixed with cold - so will last much longer than what has been given here.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 11:24PM
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Okay, I'll admit my last post was out of bounds. Nonetheless, people need to understand that the decision to install multiple shower heads have a significant impact on the plumbing system as well as energy and water use.

A system that uses multiple shower heads needs to be designed to accommodate the flow rates. No, a 1/2" supply line generally will not do the trick. This could vary based on the flow rates of the heads. Low flow shower heads could change the equation.

In addition, the drain must be sized to be able to get rid of the water.

Finally, the water heater must be properly sized. Taking into account the cold water being mixed in, a 40 gal water heater will last about 10 minutes based on 140 deg hot water, 50 deg cold water, 105 degree shower and 5.6 gpm total on the shower heads. Normally you see an 80 gal heater for a setup like this.

People need to consider the full cost of their decision, including operating costs, when they decide to install multiple shower heads. And yes, it's very wasteful and we shouldn't be afraid to say so.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 11:55AM
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