Q: Why would I want to take a steam bath?
A: While most of us know that bathing frequently and drinking adequate water is beneficial, far too few of us are aware of the benefits of steam on overall skin health. The truth is simple. When you care for the skin, you are caring for the largest organ of your body.
Most of us don’t realize that our skin eliminates as many or more poisons and toxins from the body than the colon or the kidneys. Steam penetrates deeply into the skin, helping to purge these health destroying elements from the body. It’s no wonder that your skin looks clearer and more vibrant after a steam bath.
Q. How long have steam baths been used for health?
A. For thousands of years, cultures around the world have understood the value of steam in the healing process—Finnish saunas, Turkish baths, Native American sweat lodges. Many a tired muscle has been surrendered to a steam bath, to leave the bath relaxed and rejuvenated.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that steam baths began to appear in American culture. At first steam baths were only available at private clubs and large health resorts. The benefits of steam showers were a closely guarded secret of those who had the money and resources to access the treatment. But something this good couldn’t stay under wraps forever. By the 1990s, the word was out. Steam showers began to be included as a routine part of regular health treatments and often as preparation for the daily workout at the club.
Now, steam showers are becoming a popular component in new home construction and bathroom renovations. More and more Americans are discovering that it is far better to practice preventive health care than to depend on pills to manage health issues after they have developed. The steam shower is an excellent way to support a healthy immune system
Q. What is the difference between a steam shower and a regular shower?
A. A steam shower looks a lot like a regular shower, except that the doors have seals to prevent the steam from escaping.
A steam shower adds steam as an option to your shower experience. This means that you can take a regular shower without steam when you don’t have the time to luxuriate in a steam bath. You can add steam to your shower, and enjoy the benefits of both running water and steam. Or you can enjoy steam alone.
One of the best immune boosting treatments available is to use blasts of cold water in alternation with steam. Blasts of cold water to the upper back and chest is very effective for treating pneumonia after the lungs and entire body have been warmed thoroughly by a steam bath.
One of the benefits of taking a regular shower in a steam shower unit is the fact that the steam from the shower itself stays in the shower with you. In these days of water economizing, it’s nice to stay warm while you turn off the water to soap up or shave.
Q. How is steam generated?
A. Steam is generated by a special unit called a steam generator. This should be installed near the shower for maximum efficiency. Using an element similar to those found in hot water kettles, the steam generator heats the water in the generator water chamber until it becomes steam. The steam then flows through the connecting pipes to the steam outlets in the shower.
Q. Which is better? Building a steam shower to fit the bathroom, or purchasing a steam shower unit?
A. Unless you have a very unique situation, in almost all situations, you will find the convenience of purchasing a steam shower unit worth it. Not only will you have all the fittings for the shower, you will also have a steam-tight unit. There are so many models and sizes to choose from, it is worth looking into your options before you consider building a custom steam shower.
Generally, installing a modular steam shower takes about half the time but involves up to twice the expense of building a custom steam shower. Because all the elements are certified and tested, the risk of electrical shock from handling controls is virtually eliminated from prefabricated steam shower units.
Of course, there are times when building your own custom steam shower is the best option for integrating the shower into your existing bathroom. It also offers you complete freedom to follow your imagination. Only you can decide which is better.
Q. If a modular steam room costs more than building my own system, why should I purchase a modular system?
A. One of the primary advantages of many modular systems is the ease with which they are maintained. Acrylic units are especially easy to keep clean. Maintaining grout is a constant chore.
Q: If I need help during installation, is there someone I can call?
A. Yes. This is one of the primary advantages of purchasing any bathroom fixture from The Bathroom Supply. We gladly provide you with all the telephone support you need during our regular business hours.
Q. Can I convert my existing tub or shower into a steam bath?
A. It all depends on existing circumstances. However, you must get the advice of a qualified professional (a licensed contractor with plumbing and electrical experience) before proceeding with plans to convert a tub or shower to a steam bath.
Do I need to modify my existing bathtub or shower to convert it into a steam bath?
A: Yes, you will. First, you have to modify the enclosure so the steam does not escape and cold air does not flow in from the bottom. If there is a 3/8" gap at the bottom of the door it will allow cooler air to enter the shower, creating a more dense steam experience, but also the risk of a cool draft. (See Important Considerations for Planning Your Residential Steambath)
Q. How much should I expect to pay for a modular steam room?
A: The cost can fall anywhere between $2,000.00- $11,000.00, depending on the size of your steam shower unit and the features you select.
Q. How do I choose the right steam shower?
A. You need to consider several factors. The most important are space, water supply and features.
How much space do you have? Take measurements. This includes not only the bathroom space, but also any doorways that the steam shower unit will have to pass through. Regardless of how much space you have available in the bathroom, if you have to tear out several walls to get the unit into the bathroom, you are going to face some major additional expenses. So you want to look for a unit that can fit through existing doorways.
Do you have an adequate water supply? In some cases, the PSI coming into the house may be too low to support the jets in the steam shower. To experience the full benefits of this feature, adequate PSI is essential.
What features do you want? Steams showers come with many features. You may not care about listening to music or the radio during your steam shower, but it may be important to have acupressure massage nozzles for hitting your personal trigger spots. Foot massage may be important to one person and an unnecessary feature for another. You might care less about having a rainfall showerhead. If you want to enjoy the benefits of essential oils, you will want a steam shower that provides a special reservoir for essential oils. These are just some of the features that many manufacturers offer in addition to steam. Do your research and decide which features are the most important to you.
Hiring a professional plumbing and heating firm to evaluate the conditions present in your home can be very useful. With the information they provide on water supply, etc. we can help you make sure that you order the right unit for your home.
Q. What are some of the benefits of steam showers?
A. Here is a short list of proven benefits:
Treating dry skin, especially during the winter when heaters dry the air out.
Clearing the sinuses and nasal passages for easier breathing
Soothing irritated bronchial passages for better asthma and allergy response
Relaxing tired muscles
Rejuvenating the skin
Detoxifying the body
Supporting cardiovascular fitness
Increasing overall circulation
Q. What else is a steam shower good for?
A. Believe it or not, a steam shower is a great way to get the wrinkles out of your clothes. Never put an iron to your clothes again. Just hang them in the shower, turn on the steam and 10 or 15 minutes later, your clothes will be wrinkle free.
Q: Is there anyone who should not use a steam shower?
A. Yes. First, never take a steam bath while intoxicated. Your ability to evaluate your response to the steam may be impaired and overheating and death have been known to occur.
Also, although Doctors consider steam baths generally safe to use, if you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, and/or diabetes, or you are pregnant or someone who is not in good health do not take a steam bath unless you receive a physician’s approval. Please consult your doctor if you have any questions about health issues and before acquiring a steam generator.
Q: Is there a difference between a steam bath and a sauna?
A: Yes, there is. The temperature and humidity levels differ as well as construction. Steam is wet with a temperature generally ranging between 110 - 120+°F on average and close to 100% relative humidity. A sauna is dry with average temperatures ranging between 165 - 180+° F and with 10 - 15% humidity. Room construction for steam units generally uses water resistant materials—ceramic tile, stone, or acrylic. Cedar or redwood is the preferred material used for saunas because wood takes a while to heat and remains comfortable to sit on. It can also tolerate some use of steam.
Q: How much does it cost to operate a steam shower?
A: Two factors make up the cost of operating a steam shower—amount of water used to generate the steam and the size of the steam generator. Generally, most steam units only require 1 – 1-1/2 gallons of water per session.
The size of your steam room plays a significant role in the cost of heating this small quantity of water. The larger the steam shower, the higher the cost. Depending on the kilowatts required, the average 20 minute steam session costs 10-25 cents.
When you compare the volume of water to that used by a typical whirlpool tub (30 to 40 gallons), and the amount of electricity used to heat that volume of water, it’s not hard to see how a year’s worth of steam bath ends up costing about the same as 2 or 3 tub baths.
Q. I have hard water. Do I need to be worried about how this will affect my steam unit?
A. Yes, hard water can be a concern. The best way to protect your steam unit is to install a whole house treatment system. Second best is to install an automatic drain so that hard water isn’t standing in the steam generator.
Q. Do I need to install an exhaust fan in the steam room?
A. No, you don’t. All you need to do to remove steam from the room is take a hot or cold shower. The steam will condense right down the drain.
Q. Both 110V and 220V steam generators are available. Which is the best option?
A. While 220V units usually draw less current, it can be costly to add 220 wiring. Your 110V wiring is adequate for most situations, though we do recommend having an electrician verify that the wiring in your bathroom is adequate. 110V steam units are the most commonly used steam units in American homes.
Q. How much useable bathroom space does the steam generator occupy?
A. Steam generators are very compact. They only take up a small amount of space in a vanity or closet. If necessary, the steam shower generator can sit in the attic over the shower or in the basement below the bathroom. We only suggest that you keep the steam generator within 25 feet of the steam shower.
Q. I’ve never taken a steam bath before. What do I need to know?
A. First, shower so your entire body is wet. Then turn on the steam unit. For your first session, don’t exceed 15 – 20 minutes. Then cool off gently. Cool fresh air or lukewarm water won’t cause a major shock to your system. Rather it will stimulate the circulation gently.
You want to avoid shivering. It is better to end the steam bath feeling warm than to leave with a chill. At the same time, you don’t want to become overheated. Wrapping the head in a cool, wet towel is an excellent practice. And be prepared to place a cold pack over the heart if you find yourself feeling faint. These two precautions are practiced by hydrotherapy specialists.
Q. What if a warranty issue develops?
A. We offer a 3-year warranty on all of our products. We’re committed to fulfilling the details of the warranty at no cost to you.
Q. If a part breaks, what do I do?
A. If a part breaks under warranty, we replace it. All we need is a detailed description of the part. A photograph helps as well. We’ll do everything we can to make sure you get the part you need as quickly as possible.