When are pressure balancing loops necessary?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by MKeel, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. MKeel

    MKeel New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I have been reading a lot about pressure balancing loops and some say you absolultey need them if you are using more than two body sprays, while others say they are a complete waste of time and money. I am installing two body sprays in my shower and need some help figuring this out. I was thinking about just teeing off the supply line from the 3-way transfer valve and connecting a female adapter at each end. If this is not correct, then how should I proceed to plumb these body sprays in a balancing loop. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Gsalet

    Gsalet George the Plumber

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I suggest installing a pressure balance loop! From personal experience you can have one body spray with more water than another. The extra pipe and fitting is alot cheaper than opening walls or tile to fix a unsatisfactory body spray system. Grohe shows pressure loops in all their multiple body spray installations.
    Good Luck
    George
  3. MKeel

    MKeel New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    George,

    Thanks for the advice. I have WaterTile Square 22-nozzle bodyspray - K-8003 from Kohler. They show a pressure balancing loop in their instructions but a plumber told me today that it was unnecessary. Do you suggest that I put the brass nipples at the top and bottom of the loop or all to one side of the loop as illustrated in the following instructions on page 4?

    http://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/1095094_2.pdf
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,269
    Location:
    Maine
    Since Kohler says to install the loop in the directions, the best thing to do would be to ignore the directions and go ahead and install the valve without the loop and then complain when it does not work properly. Kind of a no brainer don't you think?
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,058
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    loop

    I have installed a lot of 'multiple head" showers and so far have NOT used a single "balancing loop". The only times they could be beneficial would be if the heads were on opposite sides of the room with a circuitous water system between them.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    SOme of it depends on how big your valve is, how many heads you are trying to feed, the size of the pipe, and your water pressure. As long as the valve can flow more water than the heads can use, you probably won't have a problem. It's when things become marginal that it can.
  7. MKeel

    MKeel New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Hj and Jim,

    Thank you for the help! Everything is on one wall of the shower and there is no circuitous water system between them. So it appears that I may not need a loop after all.

    Here are a few more details and let me know if after this information you think a loop is or is not necessary in my situation. I found 3/4" supply lines on the opposite side from where the shower is located so I decided to pull off those lines to supply the Kohler K-670 3/4" thermostatic valve. From there it goes up to the Kohler K-728 3-way transfer valve where the accessory water lines are reduced to 1/2". The transfer valve allows for up to 3 features, which in may case is a rain shower head, handshower, and two K-8003 watertile bodysprays. Additionally, the transfer valve only allows up to two features to be used at any one time, so for my configuration the max water usage would be capped at 7.5 gal/min. I bought a cheap pressure gauge and connected it to an outdoor faucet that is next to the shower and it read 90psi.

    Let me know what you think and thank you in advance for your help.
  8. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,269
    Location:
    Maine
    Page 4 of Kohlers installation instructions for multiple body sprays clearly shows a balancing loop so why would you do anything different? The wall is open now, do you really want to open it up again later because some plumber said not to bother installing it according to the instructions?
  9. MKeel

    MKeel New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Well, it hasn't been just one plumber. I have done a lot of research and talked to several plumbers and now I wonder if the benefits of balancing loops may be overstated. Anyway, I wanted to open this up for discussion to see what the folks on this forum had to say about it and in the process help me decide on what to do.

    It has been my experience that not all instructions are correct. Like right now, I am questioning why these instructions are having me line up the plaster guard to the stud instead of the finished wall to determine pipe depth. The bodyspray needs to sit flush to the finished wall, not to the stud. In fact, when I put up the 1/2" backboard with the 3/8" tile and place the bodyspray I can see that it is unnecessary to push the pipes all the way to the back of the wall as the instructions would have me do, where I can't even put a support behind the pipes. I can see how this would be a non-issue with a 2x6 wall, but what about people trying to install this on a 2x4 where space is very limited.

    Please take a look and let me know what your thoughts are on this.
  10. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,348
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    I read the instructions it is made to go in a 2x4 wall,the plaster guard is to show you where the finished wall will be.Read the instructions again and pay close attention to the diagrams and mesurements.
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    To ensure you understand the instructions, I highly suggest you mock up the fittings and the body spray so it ends up where you really want it along with all of the finished wall components (with an accomodation for the thinset thickness). Some of Kohler body sprays have all of about 1/16" tolerance. this can be a big pain, especially with threaded fittings.
  12. MKeel

    MKeel New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    I also think that the plaster guard is to show where the finished wall will go. Why the instructions say to "line up the edge of the plaster guard with the front face of the studs" is confusing to say the least. They also make no mention to remove the plaster guard once the pipe depth is determined. Several people have been confused by this as well.
  13. MKeel

    MKeel New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Good advice on mocking up the whole thing. I am beginning to understand why so many plumbers think these particular bodysprays are a pain.
  14. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,269
    Location:
    Maine
    They are NEVER a pain if you follow the directions. What do you think multi million dollar companies do, write instructions that are wrong and should be ignored? The only plumbers that think they are a "pain" are those that don't like or understand instructions. but then, these are the same plumbers that rough drains 3" too high or too low and pipe supplies behind vanity drawers all because they can't be bothered to read instructions. Not reading instructions is why they make things like 18" flexible supply tubes and those accordian tail stock extensions. Take my advice. Read, understand and follow all instructions.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,058
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; The only plumbers that think they are a "pain" are those that don't like or understand instructions. but then, these are the same plumbers that rough drains 3" too high or too low and pipe supplies behind vanity drawers all because they can't be bothered to read instructions. Not reading instructions is why they make things like 18" flexible supply tubes and those accordian tail stock extensions

    Interesting, because I DO NOT consider the engineers who write the directions to be on a par with God. In fact, since I have installed MANY faucets designed by engineers who have NEVER installed one, and put the "cuss meter" at its maximum, I will make the installation the way I THINK it should be, but I do NOT do ANY of the other things you say I should.
  16. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,269
    Location:
    Maine
    I always follow the manufacturers instructions. It keeps my liability at a minimum.
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