Guest Column - February 2008
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Shower Strategies

Reducing Maintenance & Water Use

By Ryan Pfund

Temperature control

Selecting the perfect water temperature is a feature that most users in any facility expect if they are going to do more than just a quick rinse. It is easy—and safe—to do with pressure balancing or thermostatic shower valves. An added benefit is that these valves protect users from scalding.

New shower fixtures with the latest pressure-balancing valves that incorporate long-lasting European ceramic cartridge technology can help reduce maintenance. These ceramic cartridges have no wearing parts that will need to be replaced and are reversible to allow for back-to-back installation with a common wall, saving on installation and construction costs.

If keeping an organization's brand top-of-mind is important, aquatics centers, fitness centers and spas can customize their shower escutcheons with the company's logo. Plumbing manufacturers offer coordinating showerheads, handheld showerheads with slide bars and wall hooks, as well as faucets for lavatory systems that give the bath and shower area a well-designed appearance. The choices for these types of products and styles are virtually limitless—just be sure to choose durable commercial-grade fixtures.

Slow the flow

Whatever type of recreation facility you manage, a few simple changes can have a dramatic impact on water savings. Low-flow showerheads can significantly reduce the gallons of water that are used each minute. Specifying individual or group showers with metering devices further controls water flow. 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. They ensure that water is not left running when not in use.

Focusing on showers is just a start. Specifying low-flow handwashing fixtures, toilets and waterless urinals, for example, can potentially reduce water consumption by more than 30 percent. This means even greater cost savings in water and sewer bills, as well as energy costs for heating water.

Keeping showers clean

Maintaining and keeping shower areas clean is a continuous job. But there are some easy ways to help showers stay cleaner:

  • Install solid-surface shower pans rather than hard-to-clean tile.
  • Use larger tiles for less grout area on floors, and choose a darker epoxy grout.
  • Keep as much piping as possible behind the walls.
  • Look for showers made from chrome-plated brass or other durable material.
  • Select moisture-resistant materials like solid plastic HDPE for benches, lockers and partitions.

Although installing more efficient shower fixtures and more durable accessories may add costs up front, their long-term advantages will save money over the building's life cycle. In addition to energy and cost savings, your facility will benefit from less maintenance and greater resistance to vandalism. Those are advantages that make a positive impact everyone—from owners and management to customers and visitors.


Ryan Pfund is the Shower and Thermostatic Mixing Valve product manager at Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, partitions, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers. For more information, visit