Anti scald valves, Renovators don't cut this corner, my home, cottage, or commercial inspection will find out so will my client!

Anti scald valves are the wrong place to save a few bucks when renovating!

In several recent home, cottage, and commercial inspections I have found a disturbing issue with builders and renovators in both contracted and homeowner work. While new tubs and showers have been installed, usually with new sleek and modern tile, fancy vanities and new fixtures throughout, too often I find the homeowner or contractor, redoing the bathroom has installed an older style tub/shower faucet that is not an antiscald type. They are considerably cheaper and still approved for reno work but they lack the anti scald safety feature. First time homebuyers are often not aware there is a difference in tub / shower faucets and many clients moving from smaller newer homes to larger homes are just as unaware these fixtures still exist. That lovely new shower faucet may cause severe burns especially to young children. I always test for anti scald valves during home, cottage, or commercial inspections when I see a shower.

What is an Anti Scald Valve?

Anti scald valves, are also commonly called pressure-balancing valves. Simply put when a shower is running, if another valve in the unit is opened , say the dishwasher calls for hot water, the two fixtures using hot water split the water pressure between them, and the flow is reduced: someone is getting a cold shower. But, if while the shower is running another fixture calls for cold water, such as the downstairs toilet, the cold is reduced considerably and someone’s getting scalded! A pressure balancing or anti scald valve senses the lowered pressure/flow from the hot or cold side and reduces the pressure/flow on the opposite line. Total flow is temporally reduced but the temperature stays relativity constant: thus anti scald. 

Did you know?

More than 2,200 Canadian and American children are scalded each year. This occurs mostly in the bathroom and in the kitchen. Scalding and other types of burns will often require costly and long-term hospital stays. These types of burns may involve skin grafts and plastic surgery. Accidental scalding can and does lead to additional injuries, such as falls and heart attacks, especially among the elderly. Water that is 160º F can cause scalding in 0.5 seconds. It is not just shocking. Sudden temperature fluctuations are more than an annoyance, they are a safety hazard. A sudden burst of hot water can cause serious burns, particularly in young children, who have thinner skin than adults. Also, a startling thermal shock – hot or cold – may cause a person to fall in the shower as he or she scrambles on the slippery surface to adjust the water temperature. The elderly and physically challenged are at particular risk.

Installation of anti-scald tub/shower valves is typically simple and inexpensive.

In my area of central Ontario, Orillia Gravenhurst and throughout Muskoka, most models are installed the same as any shower faucet. The valve’s pressure balancing system is built in and the cost averages no more than twenty to thirty dollars more than a similar standard valve. If you are doing a renovation don’t save a few dollars here, spend the little extra for safety sake. Rember if a client is looking at  buying a home that has all been redone it will take the 'shine" off the new bathroom if they know they will to tear down new tilework to install a safer faucet set.

What about the hand faucets?

Many manufactures are beginning to offer anti scald attachments for kitchen and bath faucets and these are a very good idea , but till now most homes and commercial establishments have had to rely on tempering valves to if they chose to regulate the maximum temperature water coming from these fixtures. Tempering valves are also a fairly straightforward installation but they are installed separate from the fixture on the lines feeding the faucet. Tempering valves can be set to limit the maximum hot water temperature available at the faucet... Tempering valves are also seen in warmer climates where they are used to prevent condensation on fixtures like toilets in homes and feed lines in commercial applications and like exposed feeds to urinals and toilets. The tempering valve is set to allow just enough hot water to mix with the cold that it ”tempers” the water temperature and prevents condensation leading to dripping toilet tanks and pipes.

I always look and test for anti scald tub/shower valves during home, cottage, or commercial inspections and I recommend tempering valves or anti scald faucet adaptors when I see home cottage or commercial installations that would benefit from them. If I find the cheaper type of standard faucet I recommend the client have the owner change it out or budget for replacement as soon as possible.