Can we add body sprays?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by DavidTu, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. DavidTu

    DavidTu Member

    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    We have a shower plumbed with 1/2" Uponor PEX with an American Std R520 and a 10" Amer Std Rain Head. Can we add 2 body sprays to this set up? If so, would we need to put the sprays on a diverter to keep from using both at the same time or could we plumb it with a tee to a volume control so sprays and rain head are both on at once (or rain head only)? Or what?

    We don't have the body sprays... if answer is "it depends on the sprays", you can specify what would work or what to look for.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2013
  2. ckl111

    ckl111 Home Builder

    Messages:
    65
    Location:
    Ontario
    Have you tiled yet? If you have, retrofitting them wont be easy, even from behind.

    The R520 is designed for body sprays so it will handle 2 additional body sprays. You will need additional diverters or volume controls depending on how you want them to work. Both configurations you described will work. 520 installation
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    1/2" copper would be marginal for rain head plus body sprays. 1/2" pex probably won't cut it at all.
  4. ckl111

    ckl111 Home Builder

    Messages:
    65
    Location:
    Ontario
    I have installed a shower head and two body sprays with 1/2" copper but anything more, I use 3/4" supplies. It might work but not worth the hassle is it doesn't. It also depends on the existing water pressure. The instructions say you need a minimum 40 psi for the shower head and body sprays to work together. If not, you could always use the diverter valve only.

    Theoretically, what PEX loses from a smaller internal diameter, it is also supposed to make up with fewer elbows and fittings. I haven't done a shower with body sprays in 1/2" PEX to give you first hand experience though. Jimbo has a valid concern.


    FWIW, I have a shower with 4 body sprays and never use them. The 8 inch rain head is more than enough. IMHO, the "car wash" effect with body sprays you see in the ads is over-rated. You also need to consider the size of the hot water tank.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  5. DavidTu

    DavidTu Member

    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    No we have not tiled yet. Its also not out of the question to upgrade to 3/4" PEX if it is absolutely necessary. We have very high pressure and will be using a PRV (this shower is on 2nd fl) to set 80 psi in basement. I would only want to rerun in 3/4" if absolutely necessary. Honestly, the sprays are as much for show as for anything... want a "luxurious" look for resale purposes later on.

    Is the R520 relatively low GPM rating? Its hard to compare the various valves since each seems to rate at different psi, not sure how to normalize the ratings.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Use independent control valves then you can use either or both according to the amount of flow available.
  7. ckl111

    ckl111 Home Builder

    Messages:
    65
    Location:
    Ontario
    The "problem" is that there is already a built in volume control in the valve. This particular valve seems to be designed to be used with a diverter valve or an extra volume control for the body sprays.

    You can still add two independent control valves but it would make the built in one redundant.

    It sounds like you have enough pressure to use a 1/2" line. The other thing I have found with a 3/4" line is that it wastes a lot of water getting hot water to the shower if the run is a long way from the HWT. A recirc line helps but there are pros and cons with that too.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  8. DavidTu

    DavidTu Member

    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Assuming we go forward with this, was wondering how to plumb it. Even for 2 sprays it seems the mfgs (in this case Danze and Moen) are calling for a pressure balancing loop, and also for a brass nipple to come off finish wall 1/2". Can the pressure loop be implemented in PEX? If so, how would this be done? I am used to having the PEX terminate in a drop ear 90 and then do nipples from there. Pressure loops seem to want to have the drop-ear be on a Tee somehow. Also, at least for Uponor I know that PEX cannot always be used for tub/shower stuff... for example the line between the shower valve and the tub spout must be copper, not PEX according to Uponor. Wonder if there are any issues with the pressure loop being in PEX?
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  9. DavidTu

    DavidTu Member

    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Would this loop design work?

    Attached Files:

  10. ckl111

    ckl111 Home Builder

    Messages:
    65
    Location:
    Ontario
    That should work. If you are lucky, you can find a PEX drop ear tee but I wouldn't waste time searching for one if your local supplier doesn't have them. You could also make your own by sweating PEX connectors to a standard 1/2" copper drop ear tee.

    http://www.ravenproducts.us/PDFs/new_pexwir.pdf
  11. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,413
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    PEX and the fittings are quite a bit smaller then running copper.
    That's why you can't run PEX and a PEX fitting to a tub spout. There is a very large reduction in flow. Everytime you add a fitting to PEX, you are restricting flow.
    I think you should break down and run the loop in copper.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    One of the main reasons people install pex is that you can avoid most fittings...why would you want to use all of those elbows when you can just bend the pex?

    The ID of pex is smaller than copper...then, insert a fitting, and it gets smaller yet. The more fittings, the more resistance and reduction of flow.

    If the pressure is high enough, it may work. But, high velocity through a pipe is not good for it, either.
  13. DavidTu

    DavidTu Member

    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    If the PEX would bend tight enough I would eliminate fittings. I just haven't done ANY copper so I keep putting it off... guess I could give it a go though.

    Terry, wouldn't upsizing to 3/4" work between valve and spout then? I assumed it was something about the material or connections, not throughput that made PEX unsuitable for that application... interesting.
  14. DavidTu

    DavidTu Member

    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Regarding the nipple coming off the finish wall... usually I am putting galvanized test nipples on with caps and then after finish wall is in we substitute the brass nipples. In this case for body spray they only want 1/2" of threaded pipe coming out of wall. How is this best achieved? Obviously I cannot screw a brass nipple in after finish wall if only 1/2" is to be exposed... so maybe the way to go is to attach the final nipple onto the body spray and screw them in together? Is there a better way?
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    Each brand of pex has a minimum bend radius, and if you approach the minimum, often, it's best to use the bend supports, but I'd be surprised if you can't get it to work without all those fittings run it into the next stud bay if you need to to get a nice loop.

    They make internal pipe wrenches, but you can tighten the spray with the nipple together into the el in the wall.
  16. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,413
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Using a test nipple until installing the tile is the right way to go.
    Normally, there is a little give with a threaded nipple. You may need to go tighter to get it closer to the wall, or not so tight if it's pulling in too soon.
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