Question - You recently wrote about home-size saunas. I also like a steam bath for my complexion and to relax. Are there low-cost home-size steam rooms that are easy to install and easy on my utility bills? - R. T.
Answer - You are in luck. There are many small one- and two-person steam room kits available specifically for home use. If your budget is extremely limited, just add a special steam room door kit to your existing shower or bath.
The temperature in a steam room is ideally about 118 degrees, not extremely hot like a sauna. A small 2.2 to 3-kilowatt steam generator is often adequate for a one-person steam room kit.
Once the steam room gets up to the desired temperature, the heaters in the steam generator cycle on and off. Overall, the electricity to operate one is not great because the heat generated reduces the load on the furnace.
A small electric steam generator is often located under the sink or in a vanity closet. For convenience, it can be located up to 25 feet from the steam room. It needs a small water line, electric power and a thermostat wire.
Several of the complete steam room kits have contemporary designs and fit into a corner or recessed bathroom area. High gloss acrylic, polycarbonate or synthetic cultured marble are often used. These materials are durable and provide natural insulation to reduce electricity costs.
It is important to have a well-sealed steam room. The kits all use some type of weatherstripping around the door. When converting an existing shower, make sure to install a special steam room door with weatherstripping.
If you are interested in aroma therapy, select a steam generator with the proper steam head. These low-temperature steam heads are safe to touch and have inlets to pour essential oils in for slow diffusion into the steam.
Since a steam room is well sealed, very little of the moisture escapes into your house. It may just be enough so a humidifier is not needed. After use as the room cools down, the moisture condenses and runs down the drain.
Many steam generators include a power flush option. This is particularly important in areas with hard water. After each use, the generator flushes the heating elements to minimize scale and sediment buildup.
There are several control options. The best is a programmable time and temperature control with a digital readout. While you are relaxing in the steam, you can constantly monitor the time and temperature. In-the-room controls use simple low-voltage wires for safety and easy installation.
Write for Update Bulletin No. 896, a buyer's guide of 14 steam room kit, accessory and generator manufacturers, controls, features, prices, sizing chart and design tips. Please include $2.00 and a business-size SASE. Write to James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH
Question - I have a framed house which needs new siding. Many years ago, I had foam insulation blown in the walls so it is well insulated. I am concerned that vinyl siding will make it too airtight. Any comments? - L. H.
Answer - Although the vinyl material used to make the siding will not allow air or water to pass through, the siding will not block air leakage. If your house is not too tight now, the vinyl siding will not create a problem.
Most vinyl siding is purposely not hung tight so it can expand and contract with temperature changes. Even though it is slightly loose, it looks fine and is very durable.
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James Dulley's Internet Web page (http:.www.dulley.com) includes 150 of his previous columns and illustrations organized under 30 general topics. Dulley's Web page also includes a rush order form for readers who want to expedite the delivery of the current Dulley Update Bulletin offered in his column. Each of the 150 columns also has a related detailed Update Bulletin available for interested readers.
Domed top so cool condensed water does not drip down
Tempered safety glass walls
Tight-fitting door with weatherstripping
Locate steam generator up to 25 ft. from bath
All control wires plug into telephone-type jack
Mounts over a bathtub
Controls can be mounted inside or outside room