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CasaSemanas 04-19-2009 01:54 AM

lack of visible vapor in steam shower installation
In Colorado Springs we had a 5' x 9' steam room with a Mr. Steam unit and it produced lots of visible vapor. We tried to duplicate that here in British Columbia with the same size room and steam unit and wall covering material. We get lots of hot moist air here, but very little visible vapor. Except 2 times the unit malfunctioned and produced a lot of visible vapor and also a fair amount of water exited the steam head. So it seems that the unit CAN produce visible vapor, it just doesn't. Does anybody know what controls the visible vapor? Thank you for any information.

mike pinkus 04-20-2009 08:09 AM

Hello CasaSemanas:
First, thank you for being a MrSteam user and for your post.
There can be more than one reason you are not getting enough visible steam in your new room. More and more steamrooms are being insulated very well. The room retains the steam heat content for such a long time that the vapor ( steam ) condenses back into water and is no longer visible. If you have alot of water coming out of the steamhead we may also want to take a look at the plumbing as well. We would be happy to review your installation, please call one of our technical service representatives at (800) 767-8326 at your earliest convenience.
Much Thanks,

CasaSemanas 04-20-2009 10:33 AM

I'll follow up on the phone number. FYI only twice did we get a bunch of water out of the steam head. As a general rule we do not. The times that we did, there was lots of visible vapor and we were happy. So, it seems that the insulation in the room can be accounted for and that Mr. Steam can produce visible vapor that we had hoped for, it just doesn't happen for some reason. Usually for maybe the first 3 minutes or so visible vapor begins to accumulate, then it's just hot moist water vapor in the air, but nothing that you can see.

Grampa Bud 04-20-2009 10:53 AM

I don't want to be a fifth wheel here, but there is one thing that could give you water and no steam even with a properly operating unit. I have put in many Mr. Steam units and I can honestly say I have only run into your situation twice. Once it was a lack of insulation between the unit and the steam room (where ever the steam pipe ran) and once it was a properly sized unit, but the unit was in the basement of a three story home and the steam room was on the third floor in the Master suite. The steam kept condensing in the first 14 feet of run and refilled the the boiler and steam discharge with water. It would take an hour or better to get the pipe to clear and by then the owner wasn't interested.

mike pinkus 04-20-2009 11:04 AM

I understand your point about it having visible vapor during the few times the water came out of the steamhead, and would like to dig a little deeper. I look forward to your call.

CasaSemanas 04-20-2009 11:06 AM

thanks for the thought
The steam generator is 3' from the inlet into the shower, in an insulated closet in the house. The run is all downhill from the steam unit to the shower, about 2' in elevation. We started with a Tempo unit at 9 KW, swapped the element out for 7.5 KW and swapped the steam outlet pipe out for one with a reduced exit hole size in both configurations. Then we swapped out the entire Mr. Steam unit for an older Smart MS Super 2 as we had had a Smart unit in our old steam room and were happy with it. We didn't trust the Tempo unit - it sounded different, and we couldn't get visible vapor steam despite all our efforts. The Smart is a Super II, and we have also swapped the element to try it as a Super I, which is identical to what we had before in the same sized room with the same wall covering, in the same semi-arid atmospheric conditions. We have also swapped the narrowed steam outlet in and out with both configurations. Right now it's a Super I with no restriction on the steam outlet. All configurations have been equally disappointing. Obviously we are not shy about spending money on the deal, each unit was several thousand dollars and the additional heating elements were a few hundred each. It's important to us and very frustrating.

Grampa Bud 05-23-2010 10:45 AM

Have you checked your water pressure to the steamer (generally the same as the house water pressure)?? Is there a shutoff valve on the water feed? If you have a flowing house pressure of 40psi and the the valve is wide open the steamer fill valve solenoid should cycle on and off as it consumes the water. You should be able to hear this. If you only hear this infrequently I would next check the power for the unit. I have found some units wired for 120 vac when they require 240 vac single phase. DO always use a ganged breaker labeled with the same amperage rating as marked on the steamer. DO NOT use individual breakers in spare slots as you can very easily get wired into the same side of the panel and then the problems start.

CasaSemanas 05-23-2010 11:24 AM

water pressure
Thanks for the thoughts. The wiring is fine, I think. The electrician installed a double breaker of the proper amperage. The unit cycles frequently and, as I mentioned, this is our second installation and the frequency of the water filling is quite similar to our first one. There is a water pressure reduction valve in line from the house water supply. An experiment that I have in mind is to remove it.

Bob999 05-23-2010 12:26 PM

As I understand your post you do get hot moist air in the steam room--it is just that there is no visible vapor--or "steam".

Just as a matter of background steam is clear and not visible--it becomes visible when the water begins to condense--to create a cloud in atmospheric terms. You can see that phenomenon with a tea kettle--typically when the kettle is boiling the vapor will not be visible at the spout but will become visible an inch or two from the spout as the steam begins to cool and condense. I suspect what is happening is that the condensation is occuring on cool surfaces in the steam room but not in the air--thus no visible steam.

So long as the unit warms the room to the desired temperature and the air is moist I don't see a problem.

CasaSemanas 05-23-2010 12:42 PM


Originally Posted by Bob999 (Post 445913)

So long as the unit warms the room to the desired temperature and the air is moist I don't see a problem.

You know, good for you. As I stated in the original post this is our second steam room. The first one, which we had for several years, produced lots of visible vapour and we enjoyed that. We are disappointed that the identical unit in as near an identical installation as we could create does not produce identical results.

You can go on explaining the physics of steam for as long as you like, but the results are that we had visible vapour for many years and now we don't. We don't know why and neither does any one else apparently.

Bob999 05-23-2010 02:32 PM


Originally Posted by CasaSemanas (Post 445921)
You can go on explaining the physics of steam for as long as you like, but the results are that we had visible vapour for many years and now we don't. We don't know why and neither does any one else apparently.

The reason you are not getting visible vapor is that the steam is not condensing and forming a vapor cloud.

Now as to the reason it is not condensing--as it did in another life--is because the conditions are different--you don't have the conditions necessary for the steam to condense into a vapor cloud.

CasaSemanas 05-23-2010 03:18 PM

"you don't have the conditions necessary for the steam to condense into a vapor cloud. "

Yes, and we're in search of what those conditions may be. That's the reason that we started this post.

marct5 12-11-2010 12:50 PM

Hi there,

I installed a DIY steamshower of myself just now, also in a well-insulated room, but I'm having the same problem as the original poster. At first some visible vapor is appearing, but after a couple of minutes the vapor is gone, whereas the room does keep heating up. So the moist hot air is there, just not the visible vapor.
Dit the poster get this problem sorted, and if so, how? Or does anyone else have any bright ideas on how to get the visible vapor.

CasaSemanas 12-11-2010 02:00 PM

I wish
I wish that I had some positive info to offer you, but I don't. As I continue to think about it, it seems that what we're after is "fog" rather than "steam". The professional consultants will tell you that if it's moist and warm, then it's steam and you should be happy. They glaze-over and spout babble when you mention "visible vapor". There are little room vaporizers that make cold vapor... the whole thing remains a mystery to me. The steam unit is not very complex, it's basically a pot of boiling water with a vent into the steam room. Frustratingly we had one in Colorado that worked great (LOTS of visible vapor - you basically couldn't see your hand at the end of your outstretched arm, you certainly couldn't make out the walls of the steam room), as well as in California (albeit the one in California was only bathtub-sized), so it doesn't really seem that elevation (different boiling temp.) has much to do with it, also the climate in Colorado was "semi-arid", as is the climate here. Good luck. My experience has been that you're on your own. If you come up with anything, let me know. Leaving the door open a bit often increases the amount of vapor for a couple of minutes...

JohnFRWhipple 12-12-2010 10:29 AM

Water Quality - Steam Shower Settings
1 Attachment(s)
Where did you purchase your steamer?

What type of water supply do you have in your home? Are you on city water or a well?

Some steamers designed to work in Denver will not work in Vancouver and vice versa.

You are looking for steam like this; This steamer is by Roma and we had the same exact problem. I called Roma's head office and we had a custom cartridge sent to us for our Cities Water supply...

Here is a Video to this Roma Steamer...

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