The Dangers of Lever Shower Taps . . .

Shower faucet

The Maze, Safety Pin, Design icons

 . . . and how to overcome them – Choosing a mixer tap for a shower stall

Ever been enjoying a nice hot shower and the water suddenly goes super-hot, or icy cold, or stops flowing completely? Your first thought is whether your annoying housemate turned on a tap in another room, or a pipe burst in your street, but maybe you accidentally did it yourself . . .

Turning the water on is nice and easy using a single lever tap, but this also means that it’s just as easy to accidentally turn the water off, or change its temperature abruptly leaving you in a sudden state of shock.

At my local pool, for instance, I find it impossible to shower properly without knocking the lever tap. Each time I adjust it, I knock it again. It drives me mad.

Whoever designed these showers did not think about the user!

At the very least, it is annoying to be left standing in a stream of water that isn’t the temperature you want or to have the shower stop completely. However, it can be dangerous as well.

My rating: 

1.5 green bags

Dangers of Lever Shower Taps

The first and most present danger of lever shower taps is scalds. The average person’s skin burns very quickly, and it is even quicker for children and the elderly. So, there’s a risk of 1st, 2nd or even 3rd degree burns if exposure to hot water is more than a few milliseconds (at 60ºC, it takes just one second for hot water to cause third-degree burns.[1])

The second danger is falling. If you’ve ever accidentally got too close to a naked flame, you’ll know that you are designed to react quickly when you’re in imminent danger. You have a reflex reaction to jump away from the heat source, which is the same reaction that could get you hurt in the shower if the temperature of the water changes quickly.

Maybe this wouldn’t be a problem for most fit adults, but elderly folk are at big risk of shower falls.

Shower and mixer tap           Shower and mixer tap with water

These are pictures I took at a hotel in The Netherlands.

You can see there isn’t much room between the water flow and the lever tap

The Solution

The best option to eliminate these potential problems is to avoid installing a wall-mounted lever mixer in the first place. However, some people (such as those with arthritis) may have difficulty with regular taps.

So if you do decide to install one, at least place the tap away from the shower flow (preferably closer to the shower entrance for ease of access and a reduced chance of knocking it).

Also, choose a shower-head that is adjustable so the user can easily redirect the water flow away from the tap.

Finally, another way to reduce the risk of scalds is to lower the temperature of your hot water service. Here’s one website that gives great advice on this.

Peace of mind

We all want showers to be relaxing. So, think about the user when designing your shower. After all, that user may be you or your family.