Although this title may sound somewhat shocking (in more ways than one!) that is a synopsis of the world we now live in. Government regulations regarding water conservation and safety have changed the ways in which bathrooms are currently designed and engineered. “Cal-Green” laws and codes have changed the way “upgraded” showers are now being remodeled. For example, current codes mandate that a shower not allow more than 2.5 gallons of flow per minute. In the recent past there has been a trend to upgrade showers with multiple outlets (ie. body sprays, ceiling rain showers, and handheld showerheads all capable of running at the same time). We refer to this as a “car wash”! While all these amenities can still be installed, the code now says only one may be operated at a time (2.5 gpm maximum). In fact, there is now a trend among manufactures to reduce showerhead flow to as low as 1.5 gpm in anticipation of future mandates. In response to this new trend, showerheads are being engineered to give a feel of more water by increasing the velocity of water and changing the size of the jets on the showerheads, as well as other ingenious devices. In the state of drought in which we live, these are well-intentioned changes even though they will mean a change from our previous lifestyle.
Other codes which have been in place for some time include pressure balancing and thermostatic shower valves. These are designed for safety. These types of valves are designed to keep the temperature consistent and not allow fluctuations that can result in either scalding or cold shock on a chilly winter morning. The result of these codes is the obsolescence of the traditional two handle shower valve (three handles in some tub/shower combinations) to almost exclusively single handle temperature control valves. Of course, manufacturers are keeping up by making the single handle valves very decorative and fashionable, if one desires to keep the shower upscale and stylish, with a variety of finishes and styles.
One other outcome of water conservation is the struggle between responsibility and convenience. We want our warm water without being environmentally irresponsible, but we want it now! The decrease in the flow of our faucets (1.5 gmp in lavatory faucets, 2.5 gpm maximum in our showers) results in a longer wait time to get warm water to the fixture. So, now we are letting water run down the drain while doing a small dance in the morning waiting for a warm shave or shower. Once again, technology provides a solution to this dilemma. Recirculation pumps and systems are available to minimize the wait and waste of water and energy.
It may not be a “brave new world” just yet (although some may argue this point) but it is definitely different than the one most of us grew up in. Plumbing codes and laws are constantly changing with an eye on the long term effects that millions of people can have on the environment and each other. The drought, personal injury lawsuits, and “green thinking” have influenced the ways our homes are now being designed and remodeled. Come on by and visit our showroom with any ideas you might have and perhaps we can provide some suggestions so that your “shower with the government” can indeed be a pleasant experience.