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  1. #1
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    Default Lighting specifications for steam showers

    Saw this one the other day: a conventional recessed light set into the ceiling of a steam shower, water vapor entering around the opening was causing tiles to attach from the substrate.

    I understand that the substrate is incorrect - for example per detail SR614-11 in the TNCA handbook there needs to be a continuous membrane back there - what I'm wondering about is the listing requirement for the lighting.

    When I go to websites that sell steam shower components they are selling "vapor proof" fixtures, however it not able to find out what the actual IRC requirement for fixtures in a site-built residential steam shower.

    Anyone know?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lighting specifications for steam showers

    Wow... 183 reads, and no one knows!

    Toughest question I've ever asked!

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lighting specifications for steam showers

    The only thing I can find is in the NEC and it makes no distinction between a regular shower and a steam shower so a standard gasketed shower recess trim would probably meet code. It it was mine I would put in low-voltage, vapor-proof lighting in this application. If I was doing the inspection I would put it back on the electrician or architect to verify it is the correct fixture for the application.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Lighting specifications for steam showers

    A steam shower would be a wet location, and if the fixture is wet location rated that should be okay. Years ago we called those fixtures "vapor proof" or "vapor tight", but they really were not "vapor proof" or "vapor tight", that would indicate an explosion proof fixture.

    (underlining is mine)
    Location, Dry. A location not normally subject to dampness or wetness. A location classified as dry may be temporarily subject to dampness or wetness, as in the case of a building under construction.
    - A steam shower is not a dry location.

    Location, Damp. Locations protected from weather and not subject to saturation with water or other liquids but subject to moderate degrees of moisture. Examples of such locations include partially protected locations under canopies, marquees, roofed open porches, and like locations, and interior locations subject to moderate degrees of moisture, such as some basements, some barns, and some cold-storage warehouses.
    - A steam shower is not a damp location either.

    Location, Wet. Installations underground or in concrete slabs or masonry in direct contact with the earth; in locations subject to saturation with water or other liquids, such as vehicle washing areas; and in unprotected locations exposed to weather.
    - A steam shower is a wet location to anyone who has been in a steam shower (steam room, same thing) - there will be condensation dripping from every surface, and if the light is not sealed it will be filled with condensation too.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lighting specifications for steam showers

    Michael,

    The presence (in fact the lack of presence for one or two tile sections) of tile upon the ceiling substrate (incorrect also) indicates the condensation/wet zone condition of the ceiling of the "steam shower". Enclosed or not - this condition/situation is evident by the tile failure as well.

    Mark Ode, of UL has written authoritatively regarding the listing limitations and conditions regarding when is the shower zone area at, below, or above 8 feet from the floor of the shower, steam or otherwise, a wet or a damp zone required fixture, dating back to when the language was last altered in the NEC (2005) in this regard.

    I think you will find the article by Mr. Ode in Electrical Contractor Magazine, published September 2005, most helpful in your instant topic discussion.

    Here is a direct, clickable link to said article as it is hosted at ECMag:

    Electrical Contractor: The Shower Zone


    See also the UL White Book, the UL Marking Guide for Luminaires, and the standard itself.

    Wet location, minimum, listed specifically for use in that environment, and according to the LISTED instructions. Obviously the wiring method itself was and is exposed to excessive moisture conditions and condensation as well.

    The IRC hasn't "caught up" with the typical "steam shower" installations, just as it doesn't address other ammenities specifically, such as elevators, etc. For same one has to address in the base codes.

    I belive you will find it addressed, however, within whichever version of the NEC (with local ammendments) has been adopted by the jurisdiction, and regarding impervious coverings, etc. possibly further addressed in mechanical, general, and perhaps a mention regarding the overall tiled plumbing appurtuance - possibly a reference regarding the illinois plumbing code, should the jurisdiction have adopted additionally restrictive language subject to the Ill. Plumbing Code either from the Int'l plumbing Code, the IMC, and possibly the plumbing chapters and/or appendixes of the IRC.

    Within the contact reach, the elevation of the "floor" of the "shower compoartment" in relation to the "drain" and the ceiling above - if the compartment is sealed or enclosed vs. open, proximity, etc.

    Oftentimes luminaires may be convertible - it is important to note that the necessary, listed and/or classified additional trim parts, gaskets, non-conductive, and shatterproof lenses are in place as per the manufacturer's instructions, and listing provisions.

    The blobs of "mastic" which overlap the opening and compressed lipped edges of same apparently by former location of a simple clipped/pull spring "trim ring" appears to me to be somewhat obvious that the "fixture" as previously installed could not have been as a listed (per listing and instructions) wet location, over the closed shower compartment, installation.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-22-2011 at 05:09 PM.

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