Do Showerdomes really work?
We installed one of these on our office shower. Does it work?
Using the shower room at Consumer HQ wasn’t a pleasant experience. About the size of a walk-in wardrobe, the only source of ventilation was an underpowered extractor fan. As a result, even a quick shower generated a miasma of steam that fogged up the mirror and led to dripping walls.
To make matters worse, the room had a persistent musty smell and towels were rarely dry. Enough was enough. We got our hands on a Showerdome, a Kiwi-made clear acrylic lid for your shower that’s touted as a cure for mouldy bathrooms and foggy mirrors. We tested to see if it delivered mist-free mirrors.
Showerdomes are available from showerdome.co.nz, Mitre 10 and specialist bathroom stores. They’ll set you back $339 and professional installation costs about another $150. It claims to fit “most new and existing showers”, but this only covers shower cubicles. If you have an over-bath shower, you’re out of luck.
There are 15 sizes and shapes, including square, curved and triangular, from which to choose. Most Showerdomes are blown to a height of 150mm, so check you have the space above your shower before buying one. If you only have a small space, two models are only 60mm high.
For installation, we took the DIY route. The range of sizes means you may not need to cut the dome to size, but our shower sits in an alcove so we had to trim 5mm from each side of our 1mx1m dome for it to fit. We used a jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade.
The Showerdome comes with support rails and there’s a good installation guide on the website. As recommended, we ran two strips of double-sided foam bonding tape down each rail, with a bead of clear polymer sealant between the strips, then stuck them to the shower walls with the aid of a spirit level. The dome then slides along these rails, which allows it to be removed easily for cleaning.
Unless you’re a reasonably confident DIY-er, we recommend professional installation as the rails need to be well-sealed to keep in the steam.
Does it work?
Yes. We measured the relative humidity (RH) in the shower room outside the cubicle before installation and found it rocketed from 50% to 80% in 30 seconds when our shower was running, nearing 100% within 3 minutes. Once installed, the Showerdome kept humidity in check, with the RH only reaching 70% at the end of a 10-minute shower. In other words, we had dry walls and a clear mirror.
The reason humidity kept creeping up even with the dome installed was, as with many showers, there was a small gap between the top of our door and the support rail. However, flapper seals are available that will plug this gap. We used a waste piece of acrylic from cutting the Showerdome as a makeshift seal, which resulted in the humidity barely increasing at all over the course of a 10-minute shower.
After a couple of months living with the Showerdome, the musty odour is gone and we find towels on the rail remain dry even if the shower’s already been used that morning.
The Showerdome’s design means water condenses on the edge of the dome rather than the apex, so water doesn’t drip on your head. Also, you may find you can set the water temperature lower as less heat goes up in steam.
In addition, installing a Showerdome may mean you no longer need to run your extractor fan or mirror demister, and you might not need to run your electric towel rail for as long. However, these types of appliances consume small amounts of energy so you’d be unlikely to notice huge savings. The manufacturer claims you can save water by turning off the shower while you soap up, wash and shampoo, because the cubicle stays warm. While we didn’t test this, we think it is optimistic.
Showerdomes aren’t the only way to put a lid on steam. A similar product called Steam Stopper, with a frosted roof resembling a geodesic dome, retails for $299. Bunnings sells a “Shower Crown” designed for Stein showers for $281. As these products use the same principle to contain steam, as long as they’re installed properly, they should be effective.
By George Block