How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Why are shower water valves all single-handle nowadays?
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Showers with separate hot and cold valves were nixed by the building codes about twenty years ago, in favor of a single-handle anti-scald valve that prevents the water temperature from rising above 120º F (IRC 2708.4). The statistics on scalding injuries in the U.S. back up the building officials’ decision for the new standard:
- More than 20% of all burns are caused by scalding water.
- Over 2,000 children are burned by scalding water each year, mostly in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Scalding can lead to other injuries, such as falls and heart attacks, especially for the elderly trying to escape a stream of super-hot water.
- 160º F water will scald your skin in half a second.
Anti-scald shower faucet valves reduce the danger of burns by automatically adjusting to sudden changes in the pressure and flow of the water supply lines, using a diaphragm or piston mechanism to continuously balance the hot-to-cold water ratio. You can fine-tune the temperature of the water with a rotating mechanism inside the unit if you want the water a little hotter or colder.
While anti-scald valves are one safety precaution to avoid hot water burns in the shower, another strategy is to set your water heater thermostat to 120º or 130º F (the “low” to “medium” setting); so that the hot water coming out of any faucet in the house will not quickly scald bare skin—even at straight hot.
Also, see our blog posts When were shower control valves first required by code to be pressure balanced and temperature limiting? and What causes low water pressure in a house? and How do I get rid of the sewer gas smell in my house?
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