Level access showers are a game changer for those who find stepping in and out of the shower difficult.
But what can go wrong?
Read on to become fully aware of potential problems with level access showers.
Level Access Showers: An Understanding
Traditional shower cubicles and showers that sit above bathtubs are far from practical for most individuals with limited mobility. And that’s because the motion of stepping up and into shower trays and navigating whole sides of bathtubs can be uncomfortable, painful, impossible and plain unsafe.
A level access shower offers a practical and safer solution to bathing because it doesn’t involve trays or steps. Instead, floor levels remain the same between the showering area and the adjacent part of the bathroom. The floor of the showering area is slightly angled to enable surface water to drain away towards an outlet, and there are no fixed screens or walls enclosing it, meaning it’s easy for a helper to reach in if needed.
Level-access showers can transform the bathroom experience for individuals with a reduced range of movement. They offer:
- Increased independence.
- More space for assistance.
- Stylish aesthetics through a wide choice of fixtures and fittings.
- A quick and simple solution to accessible bathing, fitted in as little as 2-3 days.
- A safe bathing experience for users with no trip and slip hazards thanks to non-slip flooring and either no shower tray or one level with the bathroom floor.
Like any shower installation, problems with level access showers can arise. Let’s run through what they are and how you can avoid them!
The first problem with level access showers can occur before installation…
To install a level access shower, you will require enough space for a larger area than your standard enclosed shower.
Level access showers can be constructed to fit specific dimensions, but your bathroom needs to be big enough to handle this new shower as well as maintain enough space for other facilities. Not to mention room to manoeuvre, especially if a wheelchair or other walking aid will be in use.
Not planning enough space around the shower is one of the most common problems with level-access showers.
Have you thought about what sits under your bathroom floor? The foundations play a role in how your shower is installed.
Is your shower going to be upstairs? If your level access shower will be constructed within a timber floor additional structural modifications may be needed to strengthen the floor.
If your new shower will sit within a concrete floor, the area may need to be re-screeded to allow the drainage outlet to be fitted. It’s also possible to use self-levelling latex to raise the level back up and form the required gradient to ensure efficient drainage. But usually a ‘floor former’ is used, which forms the falls in the floor.
Not thinking the foundation factor through can lead to delays, hidden costs and future problems with level access showers and the integrity of the property if the timber joists are not protected.
Draining problems with level access showers are fairly common, but the answer is usually an easy fix.
Poor installation is the #1 culprit of flooding and drainage issues. A professional home adaptation contractor specialising in wet rooms and level access showers will have plenty of experience in installing these facilities to their proper specifications. If you choose to get a general tradesperson to do the job or give it a go yourself, you risk:
- Not preparing the foundations correctly and causing long-term issues.
- Failing to obtain the correct gradient so that the water pools and floods.
- Improper installation of the drainage system itself, meaning that water leaves the shower area but causes issues thereafter.
If your level access shower has been installed by a professional and you’re experiencing flooding problems, it could be a plumbing issue. As soon as you notice it happening, get in touch with your contractor. Any specialist adaptations business worth its salt will provide its customers with a guarantee and fantastic customer service…
Just like us!
Are there wet patches on the ceiling of the rooms below your shower?
If you’ve noticed leaking from your level access shower, you could be facing one of a few problems.
If the grouting on surrounding tiles is old or failing, this can cause leaks. It can happen for several reasons, including incorrect water-to-grout ratios upon mixing during the installation process and excessive wall movement.
Floor Improperly Tanked
When a wetroom or level access shower is installed, the whole floor that will sit under it needs to be carefully and properly tanked. This means it needs to be waterproofed.
Tanking is essentially a liquid membrane, and it can be applied to concrete floors and floor panels. The contractor mixes it up into a slurry, which can be applied thinly with a brush or more thickly with a trowel.
Failure to tank a floor properly or at all causes huge problems with level access showers because run-off shower water can escape.
Improper Shower Tray Installation
Some showers are tiled, and some use a pre-formed shower tray that has no lip and remains flush with the rest of the bathroom floor.
A strong sealant must be used for level access showers to ensure a fully waterproofed experience; if the sealant is compromised, this can cause major leaks.
Whilst a level access shower is not fully enclosed, some make use of a shower curtain or screen to prevent water from going all over the room.
Shower screens are the more common feature and redirect the water back into the shower area so that it can drain effectively. A poorly installed shower screen means water can get everywhere, dramatically increasing the risk of slips and falls in the bathroom.
Accessible shower screens can be half-height to make help with washing simple, hinged with extra panels for adaptability and even portable. Check out our blog comparing screens with curtains for more information.
We’ve run through 4 problems with level access showers. The 5th has more to do with the bathroom as a whole, not just the shower area. The room needs flooring that will make trips, slips and falls less likely.
Because if water happens to spray outside out of the shower area, it can stand on the bathroom floor and serve as a slip hazard.
So when installing a level access shower for someone with mobility issues, vinyl flooring could be the best option. It’s waterproof and a little softer underfoot than tile, and you can opt for non-slip styles as an extra precaution.
Prevent Problems With Expert Installation
Level access showers are functional, practical facilities that make personal hygiene tasks a more dignified process for those with limited mobility.
Are you considering installing a level access shower or wetroom in your home or property?
Getting your new shower installed by a professional home adaptations specialist is key to avoiding many common problems with level access showers. To find out how we can help, take a look at our website.