Hot Water Safety In The Bathroom

27/09/2010 | G-Day has finally come and gone and Approved Document G is now written into the Building Regulations. Chris Taylor-Hamlin, Technical Director of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, takes another look at the new regulations and particularly to hot water safety. ________________________________________ There has been a lot of publicity about Part G and members of the BMA have been active in producing leaflets and guides to the new regulations as they apply to bathrooms and bathroom products. By now plumbers and installers will be familiar with the headlines which have emphasised the new requirements for water efficiency and scald prevention. "Hot water safety is in the Building Regulations at last," comments Taylor-Hamlin. "It's taken some time to get written into the regs but we can all sleep a little easier now that progress is being made on this critical subject." The new regulations herald a step change in bathroom safety, helping to reduce scalding accidents which result in almost 30 deaths and over 200 scalding accidents in the UK bathroom every year, a shocking statistic by any standard. Its importance is reflected in the number of pages given over to it in the Approved Document. Part G3, hot water supply and systems, occupies a full 10 pages of the total 48. Part G3 is a new section in the technical guidance. It "embodies the need to provide hot water to baths, bidets, showers, washbasins and sinks" and "extends measures to ensure safe operation of all types of hot water systems." The document goes into great detail about hot water systems and how they should be installed for maximum safety. It talks about the design and installation of directly or indirectly heated hot water systems and the need for suitable pipework which will withstand very high temperatures and pressures. With an eye to the future and the need for energy efficiency it specifically mentions requirements for instantaneous electric water heaters and solar water heating. It also states that good workmanship is essential. "But it's the new requirement for the prevention of scalding by the installation of devices which limit the temperature of water supplied to the bath which pleases many members of the BMA" says Taylor-Hamlin. In the future, baths in all new homes must be fitted with a device designed specifically to limit the temperature of hot water. The valve must be set at a maximum 48° and "should be compatible with the sources of hot and cold water that serve them." There is a reminder in the document that in some buildings (e.g. care homes) additional performance standards are required. The easiest way to satisfy this requirements is to use a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) TMVs, themselves, are the subject of a number of British and European Standards and the regulations require their compliance with BS EN 1111:1999 or BS EN 1287:1999. These devices must ensure that the maximum temperature is not exceeded, cannot be easily altered by the building user, and that they should 'fail-safe'. "The regulations obviously only apply to new or materially-changed dwellings" say Taylor-Hamlin, "but now that they are in force they will be used as a benchmark for good plumbing practice and maybe we shall see a start in the reduction of those dreadful scalding statistics. The BMA is always looking for ways to improve safety in the bathroom. We now need to make ALL householders aware that this relatively inexpensive device, the TMV, can be retro-fitted in ALL homes and can prevent scalding, particularly in the elderly and very young." An excellent publication from the BMA provides an in-depth and informative guide to the Thermostatic Mixing Valve. The guide is a valuable resource and goes into great detail about the product; what it is, where it can be used and what are the relevant regulations. The readable text and excellent images bring home the importance of the TMV. The guide, in PDF format, is downloadable from the BMA's Bathroom Academy website at www.bathroom-academy.co.uk/guides2.asp.

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