Mr Steam MS90EC1 steam geneartor installed in San Miguel de Allende (C) Daniel Friedman Steambath Generators
Residential steam room steam generator install & repair

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Installation & repair details for electric & LP gas residential steam shower or steam box systems:

We compare the design and features of a small Mr. Steam electric steam generator and a completely different LP gas powered steam box system. Both of these systems are installed at properties in a city in Mexico but both designs are also wide-spread and will be found in other countries.

This article series describes in more detail the installation of a residential steam generator in the shower of an existing home. We report what went well, how successfully the steam generator operated after installation.

We continue by describing repair of a new but failed steambath steam generator installation: what went wrong, what trouble it caused, and how steam generator problems with small residential steam generators might be diagnosed and repaired.

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A Tale of Two Steam Generator Installations: What Works, What Causes Trouble, Repairs

Icelandic steam bath - Wikipedia 2017A steam bath system or steam shower system requires three components: a steam generator, a steam control, and a steamhead through which the steam is released to the steamshower or space.

Also required are a water supply and a power source, usually electricity, occasionally natural gas or LP gas to power the steam generator, and a properly-enclosed and safe space into which steam will be generated.

Photo: a large steam bath in Iceland - Wikipedia 2017/09/10

Both private and public steam rooms or residential steam showers or "steam baths" have been in popular and widespread use since Roman times.

Provided that the steam generator installation is performed properly and provided that basic safety procedures spending time in warm steamy room can be both relaxing and healthy.

Thermotherapy soothes symptoms such as muscular strain, heaviness in the limbs, edema, loss of appetite, and constipation, whereas the essential oils of the plants used have an immuno-stimulant, antiseptic, and antiphlogistic effect.

If applied under the guidance of an experienced person, during the late childbed, the bakera can be regarded as an effective and safe method for recuperation after child birth. - (Zumsteg 2007).

Watch out: check with your doctor about any health limitations that would affect your individual case before spending time in any steam box or steam shower or steam room. (Press 1991)

Saunas, steam baths, and whirlpools—popular fixtures at health clubs—are safe means of relaxation, if used prudently. But ignoring the recommendations for moderate, commonsense enjoyment of these baths may expose users to health risks.

Watch out: for safe installation of this or any other heating equipment, follow the manufacturer's instructions for both installation and use of the steambath, and make sure that your equipment and its installation comply with local plumbing and building safety codes.

Article Series Contents

Sauna therapy has been used for hundreds of years in the Scandinavian region as a standard health activity. Studies document the effectiveness of sauna therapy for persons with hypertension, congestive heart failure, and for post-myocardial infarction care. Some individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic fatigue, chronic pain, or addictions also find benefit. ...
Overall, regular sauna therapy (either radiant heat or far-infrared units) appears to be safe and offers multiple health benefits to regular users. One potential area of concern is sauna use in early pregnancy because of evidence suggesting that hyperthermia might be teratogenic
. [Teratogenic means that there is a risk of harm to a developing fetus - Editor] - (Crinnion 2011)

Choose the Right Size for your Steam Shower Generator

Steam shower room (C) DanieL FriedmanThe most basic consideration when choosing the size or capacity of a steam shower generator is the size of the space into which steam will be generated.

The manufacturer of any steam generating system will provide tables of steam-space dimensions along with recommendations for the steam generating capacity you will need.

In this article we describe installation of a Mr. Steam MS90# 5KW steam generator, the smallest in the company's product line and designed for a 100 cubic foot area. Mr. Steam MS-series steam generators are provided in models up to 30KW that can handle a room with an adjusted volume of 1275 cubic feet.

Steam room volume = room length x width x height

in feet or meters

Photo: the shower area wall has been squared-up in preparation for installing gasketed glass enclosing top window and entry door to make this space into a steambath.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Adjusted Steam Room Volume Calculation

Watch out: in a cold climate, steam rooms constructed of materials that conduct a lot of heat away from the space, such as solid concrete and ceramic tile require more steam generator capacity.

It's easy to calculate the cubic feet of a steam shower but if you fail to consider the construction materials, and if your shower walls are built of ceramic tile on solid masonry, the steam generator you select may be too small to generate sufficient steam for the space.

The Mr. Steam® MS90E 5KW steambath generator can provide steam for an adjusted room volume of 100 cubic feet. That was about 15 cubic feet greater capacity than the actual volume of the steam shower planned for the customers' home.

That little extra capacity was important when we learned that in the customer's home the existing shower stall was in a building constructed of solid concrete with ceramic tiled walls.

Steambath spaces constructed of materials that conduct less heat away from the space, such as spaces using acrylic or synthetic wall coverings over hollow framed interior walls may require less steam generator capacity.

Had the home been located in a cold climate like northern Minnesota we'd have needed an additional 110% capacity.

Watch out: the most-detailed instructions we found for choosing the right steambath generator model were inside the installation manual for the steam generator - a document that arrived with the steam generator after its purchase.

Be sure that you have complete sizing instructions before buying your steam generator.

Otherwise you might discover too-late that simply measuring the cubic volume of the steam room size may not give the best answer to steam generator size.

Enclosing the Shower Stall for Effective Steam Generator Use

Squaring up shower enclosure wall to permit installing gasketed window and door (C) Daniel Friedman

To make an existing shower room an effective steam shower or steam bath space you need more than adequate steam generator capacity. These additional details may make a difference to the happiness of the steam shower users:

The shower space needs to be well-sealed against steam loss through a space between a typical shower enclosure wall and the ceiling as well as steam loss through a leaky shower stall door.

In the small shower stall we illustrate here, modifications included:

If you omit these enclosure details, even if the steam generation rate is adequate you may find that you are soaking other building areas with steam condensate on surfaces that were not designed to be so wet.

Gasketed safety glass shower door enclosure for steam generator use (C) Daniel Friedman

Steam shower stall construction tips

Installing the Mr. Steam iTEMPO Wall Control & Steam Head

This topic has moved to a separate page now found at Mr.STEAM iTEMPO CONTROL & STEAM HEAD INSTALL

For most steambath products a separate wall control is used to control the steam generator on/off, temperature, time-on and other features.

The installation instructions for the wall control will be separate from the instructions for installing the steam generator itself.

Installing the Mr. Steam MS90E Series Steambath Steam Generator

Steam generator installation - read the instructions (C) DanieL Friedman

Watch out: start by reading the manufacturer's instructions, both to understand the proper installation procedure and details, and also to discover what additional electrical, plumbing, or other supplies you need. I know, I know, like I was, you were taught that the instructions were just used to kneel upon while working on low plumbing connections. Not so.

Here our crew boss is actually reading the MS90E steam generator installation instructions from Mr. Steam. We found the installation instructions from Mr. Steam were clear and complete you can see this example Mr. STEAM GENERATOR MS90EC1 INSTALLATION MANUAL [PDF].

I will not repeat the details of installation of this steam generator since they're provided by the manufacturer's document. Here are some highlights that you must consider:

  1. Review steam unit capacity vs room properties: You will see that the company gives preliminary advice about re-checking the capacity of the steam generator against the actual steam room size and properties, along with additional guidelines for a proper and safe steam room construction.
  2. Review the quality of the incoming water. The manufacturer will specify recommended feedwater quality parameters such as hardness (8-85 ppm), alkalinity, and water pH.

    While hard water can be addressed in part by periodic draining of the steamer through its manual drain valve, presumably flushing out scale and sediment, my own experience with scale and debris deposits in water heaters (calorifiers, geysers, cylinders depending on where you live) made me pessimistic about the adequacy of flushing alone when water is very hard.

    At STEAM GENERATOR WATER SOFTENER & TREATMENT we describe the installation of a water softener, electrical wiring, and other equipment necessary for a long-lasting and effective steam generator installation at this particular property.

  3. Review the planned location for the steam generator. The company recommends locating the steam generator indoors close to the steam room. Practical limits on the distance between the steam generator and the steam outlet include control cable length and steam heat losses through long piping runs that can slow down the response time of the system.

    Mr. Steam's instructions assume the unit is being installed indoors.

    At STEAM GENERATOR OUTDOOR INSTALLATION we describe an outdoor protected-location installation for a steam generator, with the warning that exposure to rain or even simply very high humidity can damage the equipment or render it unsafe.
  4. Install supporting electrical wiring & plumbing when the steam generator location has been chosen. While it's not an absolute requirement, for reasons of working space you will find that routing wires, pipes, and the wall control cable is much easier and will be a neater job if those are installed and brought to the steam generator location before you actually mount and connect the steam generator itself.
  5. Mount the steam generator, typically to a wall surface.
  6. Connect the steam generator to plumbing and electrical wiring and the control cable. That includes incoming water piping, outgoing steam piping connection to the steam head, electrical power to the unit, electrical control cable between the wall control and the steam generator's circuit board.

    Watch out: for safety I would make the electrical power connections last, and I'd take care that power to that circuit is off during installation and connection work. Be sure that your electrician also provides safe and proper electrical grounding for the unit. You may be required to install a local electrical power disconnect at the unit as well.

    Watch out: when routing the steam control cable take care that it cannot be pierced or damaged by someone later driving a nail or screw into its route of passage. See Mr.STEAM MS90E TROUBLESHOOTING for an example of how much trouble that can cause.

    Depending on where you live and also following the manufacturer's recommendations ,

    All plumbing shall be performed by a qualified licensed plumber and in accordance with national and local (plumbing and electrical) codes.

    Some ancillary devices such as a water shutoff valve and proper electrical panel circuit and circuit breaker protection as well as a water pressure regulator (keep pressure between 15 - 20 psi) are left to the installer and are not detailed by the steam generator manufacturer.

    Watch out: the manufacturer and all survivors of steam system installations and events warn that you must never ever install a shutoff valve between the steam outlet line at the steam generator and the steam outlet head in the steam room. Any obstruction in the steam piping can result in a dangerous or fatal BLEVE EXPLOSION

    Watch out: you will be sorry later if you do not use unions on all pipe connections as removing the unit for service or repair will be troublesome. You will also be sorry if the plumber fails to protect the water inlet solenoid valve from overheating during soldering.
  7. Install the wall control and the steam head if you have not already done so. See Mr.STEAM iTEMPO CONTROL & STEAM HEAD INSTALL
  8. A drip pan below the steam generator is recommended to avoid water damage from leaks. Our outdoor installation over a tiled patio eschewed that feature.
  9. Power on and test the unit. Additional troubleshooting guides are in both the installation and operation manual and in separate troubleshooting guides for specific components that are provided by the manufacturer.


Other Controls & Components Inside or Attached To the Steam Generator

Steam generator water inlet solenoid control valve (C) Daniel Friedman

Incoming Water Control Solenoid Valve: Above: the Robertshaw S-53 K-77451 100479-1 24VAC 10W 246C15 solenoid valve that controls the entry of water into the steam generator.

Wires: Gray and White with gray stripe. In a pleasing irony this valve, made at a Robertshaw® plant in Mexico, traveled to the U.S. to be assembled into this steam generator, then returned for installation in Mexico.

Low voltage transformer for steam control (C) Daniel Friedman

Low Voltage Transformer: Above: the 40 VA low voltage transformer (Hartland Controls, RockFalls IL USA) providing power to the circuit board. Wires: Blue, white with blue stripe (power out to the control board), and two black power-in wires from the contactor switch.

Power connector for steam generator (C) Daniel Friedman

Power Connector - Contactor Switch. Above: the power connections at the steam generator contactor switch. Incoming (black) power wires are on the left.

240VAC power to the contactor switch is fed out to the heating element (blue wires).

A red wire and a white wire with red stripe from the control board activate the contactor switch that in turn will power the heater.

Temperature Pressure relief valve on the Mr. Steam MS90E series steam generator (C) Daniel Friedman

Relief Valve: Above: in compliance with model and local plumbing codes, any pressurized vessel including the water tank for a steam generator must have a temperature and pressure relief valve.

The Mr. Steam MS90E sports a Watts No. 315M2 TPR valve that will open at 15 psig or more.

The relief valve installed on a heating appliance must also be capable of venting energy, hot water, or steam at a rate that exceeds the energy input rate of the heating appliance. This valve can vent 375 lbs/hr.

Properly installed a relief valve that could open to spray hot water on a bystander must be piped to 2" from the floor or to a visible location at a suitable drain point.

Watch out: Never pipe a TPR valve to a location where you cannot see the end of the drain line since failing to observe that the valve is leaking can lead to a clogged TPR valve and an explosion. See BLEVE EXPLOSIONS for details.

Also see RELIEF VALVES - TP VALVES - our article series describing the installation, inspection, and testing of temperature & pressure relief valves.

Steam boiler manual drain valve being tested (C) Daniel Friedman

Above: the manual drain valve for the steam generator open for testing. Very hot water spills on this outdoor tile patio and drains to a nearby floor drain. Hot water should not be drained to a spot where people might come into contact and risk scalding burns.

Installing Ancillary Equipment to Support or Protect the Mr. Steam MS90E & the iTEMPO wall control

Fleck Pentair water softener in San Miguel de Allende (C) Daniel Friedman

The feedwater quality recommended by Mr.Steam® in the installation manual for this steam bath generator includes a hardness between 8-85 ppm (0.5 - 5 grains of hardness per gallon).

Since the water supply where this steam generator was to be installed was 25-50 times higher in hardness than recommended, the prime contractor was emphatic that a water softener should be installed.

The Fleck water softener installed for this property is shown in the photo.

Installing a rooftop water softener meant adding a pressure-boosting water pump to move water up from the rooftop water tank and through the water softener as well as through water filters and a UV system that were installed downstream from the softener itself.

We installed a Grundfos SCALA2 - SCALA2 Informacion Basico [PDF] bomba de aumento de presion, no usa tanque external that you can see in the lower right corner of the photograph.

The Mr. Steam MS90E5 KW electric residential steambath generator requires a 240V circuit that can deliver 21Amps. That means installing a 25A 240V circuit. Most homes in Mexico including the property where this equipment was to be installed use very modest electrical service. The entire home was served by only a 40A 240V panel.

Adding electrical circuits for the steambath generator, water pump, water softener together meant increasing the electrical panel size and, no surprise, running new electrical circuits to the areas where the equipment was to be installed.

Larger, higher-capacity steambath generators in this same product line can require a 240VAC circuit delivering up to 125Amps (for the MS SUPER 6E, the largest steambath generator in this product series).

Steambath shower head (C) Daniel Friedman

Above: installing a steambath in an existing shower permits additional comfort features such as the ability to follow steam treatment with a hot or cold shower.

Because we had installed a new water pressure boosting pump on the rooftop above this existing shower a new shower head and the boosted water pressure made this shower functional.

Pressure gauge installed at pressure regulator for the steam generator (C) Daniel Friedman

Above, a Tiemme PN15 pressure regulator and pressure indicator gauge have been installed on the cold water inlet line to the steam generator.

The regulator was adjusted to deliver about 20 psi or 1-4 bar.

Installing an Electric Steam Generator Outdoors: weather protection

This topic is now provided in a separate article found at STEAM GENERATOR OUTDOOR INSTALLATION

Watch out: The manufacturer of this equipment expects you to install it in a clean, dry, location protected from the weather.

Troubleshoot a New Steam Bath Generator

This topic is now found at Mr.STEAM MS90E TROUBLESHOOTING

Residential Steam Generator Repair Manuals, Guides, Contacts, Research

Below we include contact information for Mr. Steam as a steam generator sold by that manufacturer (Sussman Automatic) is described for this article series.

For our complete list of references, manuals, and research on the health effects of steam baths, please see STEAMBATH GENERATOR SOURCES & HEALTH RESEARCH

LP Gas Powered Steam Generator / "The Box" - a different approach to steam bathing

This steam generator is now described in a separate article at PROPANE POWERED STEAM GENERATOR


Continue reading at Mr.STEAM iTEMPO CONTROL & STEAM HEAD INSTALL - wall mounted controller, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.






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