In 2009, under Part G of the Building Regulations, it finally became a mandatory requirement to install Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) on household baths in England and Wales – but only in new-build homes. This amendment was largely due to the ‘Hot Water Burns Like Fire’ lobbying campaign, lead by the Children’s Burns Trust and supported by the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and leading plumbing industry manufacturers including Reliance Water Controls (RWC).
Eric Winter, Technical Manager at RWC, explains why it’s continuing to call on plumbing professionals to employ best practice on every installation and raise awareness of the need to install TMVs in every home across the country, to help prevent the thousands of scalding injuries that happen every year.
The burning issue
Figures from RoSPA highlight that almost 600 people in the UK suffer the devastating and enduring effects of severe scalding injuries every year and three-quarters of these victims are thought to be under five-years-old. Around 500 children are admitted to hospital and a further 2000 attend A&E departments every year as a result of bath water scalds.
In fact, research estimates that an average of 13 children a day under the age of four will suffer a severe injury from a scald.
Older people are also at particular risk of dying as a result of hot tap-water scalds. Specifically, RoSPA reports an average of 15 pensioners are dying each year as a result of such accidents.
For those who survive, at no matter what age, recovery from scalding injuries is often a very long and painful process, and treatment is also incredibly costly for our medical services. For example, it’s estimated that it can cost as much as £250,000 to treat the victim of just one severe bath scald incident and in total, scalding accidents are thought to cost the NHS around £11million a year.
Raising the alarm
Unfortunately, most scalding accidents are entirely preventable and there are various commonsense steps that everyone can take to try to safeguard against their occurrence. RoSPA recognises TMVs as being a critical solution to the prevention of scalds from household taps, baths and showers.
At RWC, we also believe that installing TMVs in the home to limit the temperature of hot tap water should be considered akin to having a smoke alarm fitted to help protect against the risk of fire.
However, although TMV technology in taps and showers may now be considered commonplace by the plumbing industry, most homeowners are still unaware of the benefits it brings in ensuring household hot water safety. This is why we’re calling on trusted plumbing installers to help us raise awareness.
Providing the solution
Reliance Worldwide Corporation are pioneers of thermostatic technology and water safety is at the heart of everything we do. Our Reliance Water Controls range includes a huge number of temperature control solutions, from separate TMVs for behind-the-wall installations to those incorporated within the outlet such as a tap or shower, suitable for all types of domestic and commercial applications.
For example, our Ausimix TMVs are designed to meet the requirements of the Buildcert TMV2 scheme which certifies valves for domestic use, and the more stringent Buildcert TMV3 scheme for use in high-risk healthcare environments. Ausimix valves are compact and the range includes a telescopic version which is specifically designed with retrofit applications in mind. The telescopic ends allow 10mm of adjustment on both hot and cold water inlets to aid easier installation.
The benefits that TMVs bring are also really simple for installers to explain to customers. By blending the hot and cold water supply to a ‘safe’, controlled outlet temperature (a maximum of 48oC for bath water), TMVs ensure the temperature of the water will not exceed the set point. Most TMVs will have a failsafe mechanism so if there is a failure with either the hot or cold water supplies, the valve will close off, allowing no water to pass through thus protecting the user and allowing them to identify that a problem has occurred.
Therefore we believe that the widespread adoption of TMVs would be a simple and cost-effective way to ensure greater water safety in UK homes and help to protect the lives of young, old and vulnerable people.