Hotel Online  Special Report


 Survey: Scalding Water Found in Nearly 90%
of Hotel Rooms; Legionella also a Risk


DES PLAINES, Ill. - Dec. 7, 2004 -- A recent survey conducted at major hotel chains across the U.S. reveals that most hotel bath, shower and sink fixtures deliver water at scalding temperatures. For 16 months, Bruce Fathers, director of marketing for Powers, a Chicago-based supplier of water tempering technology, and fellow managers, surveyed water temperatures in hotel rooms they've stayed at - more than 140 to date.

"Dangerously high water temperatures are being delivered at most hotel rooms nationwide," added Fathers. "Travelers are especially at risk because they're in an unfamiliar setting. Many shower valves, particularly those with volume control, can be opened in the full-hot position."

Of the first 142 rooms surveyed, nearly 90% (89.4) delivered maximum hot water temperatures for showers in excess of 115 degrees F while over half (57.5%) provided water in excess of 125 degrees F - way too hot for safe bathing. Remarkably, 16% delivered water in excess of 140 degrees F. "This creates a huge liability potential for owners and operators," said Fathers.

The average maximum shower temperature was 126.1 degrees F. Faucets delivered an even higher average maximum hot water temperature of 127.9 degrees F. "The ideal, maximum safe temperature for home or hotel water is 104 degrees F; that gives you an idea of how dangerous this has become," added Fathers.

The highest recorded temperature at a hotel shower was 171.5 degrees F while the highest temperature at a lavatory was 161.9 degrees F. At 140 degrees F, it takes only 3 seconds to sustain a first-degree burn.

And, to make matters even more challenging for hotels, 62% of rooms surveyed recorded peak temperatures of 130 degrees F or less - ideal for Legionella growth and proliferation. There's the Catch 22 - water delivered at higher temperatures will scald. And if it's too low, Legionella and other bacteria can grow freely.

"Fortunately, the risks can be reduced easily," said Fathers. "Older, pressure-balancing (Type P) valves, once thought to be the only way to control water temperatures at taps and shower heads, have a major vulnerability - since they can't sense temperature, limit stops (the device that limits the valve's maximum hot water temperature), must be constantly adjusted by maintenance staff. Type P valves are still in operation in most hotels today."

Powers' Survey Results

According to Fathers, new temperature/pressure-balancing (Type T/P) valves, at about the same cost, solve the limit stop problem, once and done. T/P valves provide the anti-scald, anti-bacteria solution because they permit the circulation of high temperature water (preferably above 131 degrees F) within the network of pipes that delivers water to hotel rooms, and then reliably temper the water to safe temperatures at each bathroom fixture and do not require seasonal adjustments.

Fathers explained that, though most hotels are equipped with Type P "anti-scald" shower valves in the guest rooms, maximum temperature stops must be set by installers and readjusted periodically by hotel maintenance professionals. This is necessary, chiefly because of seasonal changes in cold water supply or adjustments to the hotel's master tempering valve. If not properly set and periodically adjusted, or if the installed valve does not sense pressure and temperature fluctuations, hotel guests are usually unaware that water can be delivered at dangerously high temperatures.

The ongoing survey includes temperatures sampled at over 140 guest rooms, at 33 major hotel chains in 32 states. No readings were omitted from the survey.

"Many facility managers and hotel owners are under the mistaken impression that having pressure-balancing valves eliminate the risk of scalding," concluded Fathers. 

Bruce Fathers
800.669.5430 x6207
[email protected]
Also See: Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers Implementing Fuel Cell Technology; The 250-kilowatt Direct FuelCell® Power Plant Expected to Provide 10% of the Power and Domestic Hot Water Needs for 1,750 room Hotel / March 2004
The US Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Performance Rating Tool for Hotels Provides Smart Energy Management / July 2002

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