However, not only are far more bathrooms now adequately heated, but technical developments mean that it is possible to have a much more powerful shower. ln addition, there are efficient, thermostatically controlled mixers to avoid the alternative scalding and freezing douches which were once such a feature. They can also ensure that the water keeps on flowing whatever else happens in the house, unlike the shower controls which my husband was unfortunate enough to encounter in one Italian holiday hotel. Having soaped himself energetically all over, he turned on the shower intending to have a rinse down. But nothing happened for nearly three-quarters of an hour as the other guests were already tapping the water supply. Not a pleasant experience.
There are various general points to remember when planning a shower, apart from the specific ones which apply to each type of shower.
1 The water outlets should be adjustable to suit the needs of various-sized users. A fixed shower head can simply be hinged so that its direction is changed as required, or the hose and handset type can move up and down a slide bar, or the handset can be plugged into wall-mounted sockets at various heights.
2 The control for the towel rail should be near the entrance to the shower cubicle so that the water pressure and temperature can be pre-set from outside. This simple arrangement – not common in the showers I have encountered – would win over to showering many people who are too impatient, inept or nervous to fiddle about with the controls while waiting for the water to hit them.
3 Although it is possible to have a shower compartment as small as 30 x 30 in (750 mm), and this is certainly better than not having one at all, a considerably bigger one is better, tor a large person could not bend over to pick up the soap very easily in a space 30 in square.
4 A seat is a splendid addition, particularly for elderly people, and the shower head should be arranged so that it can be directed to the seat.
Like every other piece of bathroom equipment, a shower should be installed as closely as possible to existing water supplies for cheapness and ease of installation. As I said before, water pressures are generally low in this country, hence the type of showers which make our American friends laugh or wall with frustration. But the greatest head of pressure is achieved by having a good distance between the bottom of the cold water storage cistern (feeding a separate hot water supply) and the shower outlet. If the distance is less than 3ft (915 mm), which is not uncommon in a flat or bungalow, you can employ one of two remedies.
Either move the tank to a higher position or if that is not possible, install a pump to boost the pressure. Heaters that are plumbed directly to the cold water mains can also be used to overcome the problem. No pump or expensive reciting of the cold water tank is necessary to get adequate pressure with the correct type of instant heater. ln addition, they are economical since the water is only heated as and when it is needed. Assuming you have taken care of the plumbing arrangements, your shower can be one of three types.