Sunday, August 29, 2010

Interpreting Showerheads

Plumbing code enacted in 1992 restricts showerheads to a maximum of 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM). The plumbing industry has always interpreted the code as applying to a single showerhead. As we in the plumbing industry understood it, showering systems featuring multiple showerheads, handshowers, and body sprays conform to the law as long as each showerhead or spray is limited to 2.5 GPM. However, the Department of Energy (DOE) argues that this was not the intent of the original water conservation regulation. The intent, according to the DOE, was to limit the entire showering compartment to 2.5 GPM. As is often the case with plumbing code, application and enforcement is left open to interpretation and, in this case, interpretation did not match intent.

In June, the DOE set out to clarify its definition. The proposal defines all showerheads in a single showering compartment as a single showerhead. The 2.5 GPM limit applies to the entire showering compartment regardless of the number of showerheads. This stricter limitation could take effect as early as October.

Multi-head shower systems aren't common in old homes. The average old home owner is either unaware of, or unconcerned with, this impending change. However, even old home remodeling projects may be impacted. While a clawfoot tub shower does not typically feature multiple overhead showerheads, many clawfoot tub shower enclosure sets do include a handheld shower in addition to the showerhead. Under the new proposal, shower enclosures that offer the convenience of a handheld shower in addition to the stationary showerhead may not conform to the new code.

The plumbing industry and the Department of Energy continue to debate the proposal. If it goes as plumbing code typically goes, the final proposal will still leave much to interpretation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Ever Adapting Cast Iron Freestanding Bath Tub

It is amazing to me how the Internet has so quickly morphed from a source of basic entertainment, information, and shopping into such an integral aspect of millions of peoples’ lives. It seems like a revolutionary technology innovation becomes widely commercialized at the end of each of the past couple of centuries. Just as the Internet was introduced into American homes at the end of the 20th century, indoor plumbing was introduced towards the end of the 19th century. The bathroom became a necessary component of every floor plan for new homes built thereafter.

The classic cast iron clawfoot bath tub became a common fixture of early bathrooms. The design of clawfoot tubs in many ways were an adaption of Victorian furniture designs of the period. Tubs rested on ornate ball and claw or lion’s paw feet similar to those found on tables, stands and other furniture of the day.

The popularity of fanciful furniture embellishments, like ball and claw feet, waned following the end of World War I. The Art Deco style of the post World War I period featured sleek designs inspired by the shapes of modern machinery such as air planes and trains. Cast iron bath tubs manufactured during this time rested on smooth pedestal bases. Art Deco style and pedestal tubs remained popular throughout the 1930’s.

During the mid-part of the 20th century, the commercial introduction of drop-in bath tubs essentially brought an end to the freestanding bathtub. As a result, the bathtub was no longer seen as a piece of furniture. In many ways the bath tub became much more utilitarian. It took on more of the aesthetic qualities of the kitchen sink than that of the couch in the parlor.

Fortunately, renewed interest in the design potential of uniquely styled bath tubs brought about the reintroduction of many styles of freestanding bath tub in the later half of the 20th century. Not only are modern freestanding tubs enjoying increased popularity but reproductions of classic clawfoot and pedestal tubs are now also back in style. Check out all of Shop 4 Classics' modern and antique reproduction clawfoot tubs and remember to use our TUB10 promotional code for added savings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Magical Appeal of Freestanding Clawfoot Tub Faucets

The final installment of our discussion on connecting clawfoot tub faucets features freestanding clawfoot tub faucets. My first recollection of a freestanding faucet was a floating faucet outside the Dogpatch Gift Shop at the Lake of the Ozarks. The faucet streamed water from the spout without any apparent source or support. Age was not kind to this magical faucet, however, and over time the source and support for the faucet became apparent as the clear tube that ran up the center of the streaming water and into the spout turned yellow. The floating faucet was not as freestanding or magical as I thought as a boy.

Freestanding clawfoot tub faucets have a similar revelation for many. Despite what their name might suggest, freestanding clawfoot tub faucets do require support. They install independent of the clawfoot tub but they can not stand free of support. Most freestanding supply lines include wall brackets to brace the supply lines to an adjacent wall. Sign of the Crab and Sunrise Specialty also offer overflow brackets that allow their freestanding supply lines to be braced to the overflow tube of the clawfoot tub's drain. By bracing the supply lines to the tub drain, the faucet can be positioned away from a wall. Clawfoot tub drain tubing is not universal so it is not safe to assume that overflow brackets from one manufacturer will fit a drain or supply lines from another manufacturer. Check the specifications before mixing and matching clawfoot tub plumbing from various sources.

Freestanding supply lines connect to the faucet's body. It may be necessary to remove the inlets from the faucet body to connect the supply lines. Thread patterns can be nonstandard and not all faucets feature removable inlets so Shop 4 Classics recommends choosing a faucet and freestanding supply lines from the same manufacturer. More and more frequently, manufacturers are bundling the faucet and freestanding supply lines to ensure trouble-free installation.

Because they do not install through faucet holes in the tub, freestanding clawfoot tub faucets are also often called floor mounted clawfoot tub faucets. Freestanding supply lines are roughed in through the finished floor. Most freestanding supply lines include 1/2" IPS straight stops (shutoff valves). Rough-in 1/2" IPS threaded supplies to connect with the 1/2" IPS shutoff valves. The spread between the hot and cold supplies will depend on the faucet. Freestanding faucets with 3-3/8" centers, 7" centers, and 8" centers are all common.

If you are in the market for a freestanding clawfoot tub faucet, Shop 4 Classics offers a wide assortment of clawfoot tub faucets, freestanding supply lines, and bundled freestanding clawfoot tub faucets. If it is novelty gifts made of walnuts or corn cobs, visit the Dogpatch Gift Store at the Lake of the Ozarks and watch for the magical floating faucet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Arts and Crafts Period Craftsman Style Door Hardware

During America’s Industrial Revolution production shifted from the efforts of individual skilled craftsmen to mass production methods that depended on machines and armies of unskilled workers that toiled along assembly lines day in and day out. These modern production methods were recognized as dehumanizing by many and contributed to the creation of the Arts and Crafts movement. Those associated with the Arts and Crafts movement called for a return to valuing the individual worker by providing enriching and rewarding work. Products developed by craftsmen were embraced by the Arts and Crafts movement. These products were collective called Craftsman style and included the simplest of home hardware items to the homes themselves. Craftsman style door hardware is one of the many lasting legacies of the American Arts and Crafts period. Craftsman style door hardware is generally made from non-lustrous metals including copper, bronze or iron and at least appears to be handcrafted. Craftsman style door hardware is often also referred to as Mission as well as simply Arts and Crafts style door hardware.

Shop 4 Classics offers Arts and Crafts style door hardware from the Craftsmen Hardware Company. True to the Arts and Crafts tradition, the artisans of Craftsmen Hardware handcraft its door hardware from copper at their shop located in the quaint town of Marceline, Missouri.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Deck Mount Supply Lines for Rim Mounted Clawfoot Tub Faucets

Today, we continue our series on clawfoot tub supply line connections with a discussion on supply lines for rim mounted clawfoot tub faucets. Rim mounted clawfoot tub faucets are perhaps the easiest installation of the four options we will review.

Generally, antique clawfoot tubs have rounded rims. If the tub has faucet holes in the rolled rim, the faucet holes will be drilled through a deck on the rim. The deck is a short flatten section in the rolled rim that provides a level place to install the faucet. Some tubs, such as the Strom Plumbing Lucerne slipper tub, have holes drilled through a continuous rolled rim. These tubs either require a faucet with an adapter for a round rim or, as is the case with the Lucerne cast iron tub, include roll rim adapters. Faucet hole spacing of 7" centers or 8" centers is most common for tub rim holes but deviations aren't uncommon. The faucet holes will always be centered above the waste and overflow holes in the tub. Depending on the type of tub, the holes may be on the end of the tub or on the side of the tub.

Supply lines for deck mounted clawfoot tub faucets are called deck mount supply lines, rim mount supply lines, or simply straight supply lines. As the latter name suggests, the supply lines are uncurved straight tubes. Shop 4 Classics also offers a deck mount pressure balance supply system from Strom Plumbing. The pressure balance supply system has a mixing valve to regulate fluctuations in water pressure. Preventing fluctuations helps to maintain constant water temperature while the system is in use.

The rough-in for straight clawfoot tub supply lines must be centered with the faucet holes in the rim. Often this will mean that the supply line rough-in will also be centered with the clawfoot tub drain rough-in. However, check the tub and drain prior to roughing in the supply lines to make certain they align. The supply line tubes must be cut to adjust their length to the height of the faucet. If the supply line rough-in is offset from the faucet holes in the tub or the supply is roughed-in through a wall, flex hoses can be used instead of rigid straight supply lines.

Rim mount clawfoot tub faucets and deck mount supply lines connect with 1/2" IPS fittings. The rough-in connection for supply lines should also be 1/2" IPS. Shutoff valves, or straight stops, are recommended between the rough-in and the supply line. Shutoff valves aid with installation and maintenance. Most of the deck mount supply lines that Shop 4 Classics offers either include shutoff valves or provide them as an option.

Tubs that have faucet holes drilled in the rim of the tub are typically large soaker-type tubs. By mounting the clawfoot tub filler on the rim, more space is made available inside the walls of the tub. Straight supply lines also conserve space outside the tub walls. Unlike a tub wall mounted faucet or a faucet on freestanding supply lines, deck mount supply line connections are centered underneath the tub rim. Therefore, you do not need to reserve space outside of the tub to install the deck mounted faucet or it's supply lines.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Light Switches and Electrical Outlets Covered in Style

Through the efforts of such legendary inventors as George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison the power of electricity was tamed and used in ways that would forever change our daily lives. The first commercial power plants were constructed towards the end of the 1800’s and by the early 1900's the race to power all American homes quickly gained speed. Soon, light switches and electrical outlets became common place fixtures in virtually every room of the American home.

Even as utilitarian as light switch and electrical outlets are, they can be transformed into a stylish wall accent when covered with the right decorative light switch plate covers and electrical outlet covers. If you have more complicated configurations of switch and electrical outlets, say an outlet that includes multiple outlets and/or switches, it is a good idea to refer to a Switchplate & Outlet Cover Configuration Guide to ensure that you purchase the right cover for these more complex outlets. The choice of style of outlet covers and switchplates should complement the look of the surrounding room. This is especially true when shopping for covers that will be installed in smaller rooms. For example, it is important to choose switch and outlet covers that coordinate well with bath accessory hardware and the bathroom sink faucet when shopping for switch plates and outlet covers for that bathroom remodel. Fortunately, Shop 4 Classics offers a wide variety of styles of switch plates and outlet covers. Handcrafted bronze and copper switch and outlet covers are ideal for the Arts and Crafts bungalows and rustic style homes. Decorative solid brass switch plates and outlet covers are good choices for Victorian as well as traditionally styled home.