How to Prevent Water Contamination When Using Handheld Shower

If you are considering adding a handheld shower or the home you’re buying includes the fixture, ensure you don’t accidentally contaminate your potable water via a “cross-connection.”

A cross-connection is the potential for nonpotable water (soapy water, contaminated water, etc.) to be drawn or mixed into your potable water.

A handheld shower hangs down too long, creating a potential cross-connection in the bathroom.

A few examples of a cross-connection are:

  • When washing your car with the hose still connected to the hose faucet, you leave the open end of the hose in a soapy water bucket.
  • You leave the open end of a garden hose in the swimming pool.
  • Your home has a handheld shower, and the shower head is long enough to hang below the flood rim of the tub. The flood rim is defined as the top edge of the tub.

If the house’s water pressure is interrupted by a pressure change, contaminated/dirty water could be drawn back into your pipes through cross-connection.

Negative Water Pressure

Here are three common examples of how a pressure change can cause water to backflow away from your home and cause contamination.

  • The water service is lost due to a break in the main water service line. The break can cause water to backflow from your home into the city’s main water line.
  • A fireman connects a fire hydrant to clean the line or fight a nearby fire. Water pressure can cause backflow, pull water from your home, and contaminate your potable water.
  • A car wreck or other accident breaks a fire hydrant. The break in the water line can cause pressure loss and can create a backflow.

Remedy: Add A Backflow Preventer

Backflow Preventer

Confirm that the handheld fixture has a “built-in” backflow device. If not, add an external device to the shower arm. You’ll need some Teflon tape and a pair of pliers.

  1. Unscrew the current shower head or handheld device from the shower arm.
  2. Add Teflon tape to the threads of the device.
  3. Attach the backflow preventer to the shower arm.
  4. Attach the handheld shower to the backflow device.

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