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“Honestly, our guests can get drunk and forgetful sometimes,” a facilities manager in charge of a 300-room Washington state casino told us when we asked him about his experience with a product called Flowban distributed by Aqua-Rex LLC, Las Vegas. “If it wasn’t for this product, we would have damaging floods all too frequently. I know because we did have floods before we installed Flowban.”
While that may not sound like the traditional product endorsement, it is to Jonny Seccombe, president of Aqua-Rex
“I wouldn’t put a bathtub in my own home without installing it,” Secombe adds. “It doesn’t happen often, but it is very expensive when it does.”
The problem Flowban solves is a simple one: “Preoccupied” (to put it diplomatically) guests too often set about filling up a jetted tub and before long, the tub’s overflow drain can’t keep pace with the rate of flow coming from those Roman faucets going full tilt.
According to Seccombe, the problem of bath floods is more common with the larger jetted tubs, but can still happen with most any tub. Typically, the inlet flow rates for jetted tubs have to be high to reduce the time it takes for the water to cover the jets and make the tub useable. These flow rates often exceed the capacity of the overflow inlet to stop the water from spilling over the apron.
“It can take eight minutes for the water level to cover the jets,” Seccombe adds. “But just five minutes later, the tub could be flooding the bathroom.”
We caught up with Rocky Kayo, a plumbing and mechanical contractor with John E. Greene Co., Highland Park, Michigan, as the company was in the middle of an extensive rehab of the state’s largest casino, the 500-room Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mt. Pleasant.
“These tubs really fill up much faster than most people think,” Kayo explains. “It’s way too easy to think the overflow can handle the flow until it’s too late for everyone.”
As you may have guessed, Flowban is particularly popular for business catering to high-rollers, and the product has been installed in the Bellagio, Las Vegas, as well as the Hard Rock Casino, Tulsa Oklahoma, the Motor City Casino, Detroit and Harrah's, New Orleans.
“It’s easy to install and simple to reset,” Kayo adds. “And it does exactly what you want to do.”
But the product is also a good choice for everyday tubs in public housing and elderly/memory care facilities where the occupants might cause undue damage without realizing it.
In particular, Flowban comes into play for any type of multistory building where the resulting floods can cause extensive damage to any number of floors below.
Beyond that, Secombe also mentioned something to us that we hadn’t heard of before. And that is the penchant for guests from foreign countries who are used to a “wet room.” In other words, the bather enjoys a good soak while hot water continuously tops off the tub.
Besides stopping the expensive damages incurred by floods, Seccombe adds that Flowban also cuts down on all that wasted water along with the energy to heat that water from simply going down the drain through the overflow.
“It makes sense in water shortage regions to at least stop unintended water wastage,” Seccombe adds
How Flowban works
In a nutshell, Flowban is a mechanical shut-off valve plumbed into the supply and waste overflow connections on a bathtub so that it turns off the flow to the faucets when it is activated by water coming down the overflow. Flowban includes only three moving parts and uses powerful rare earth magnets, so there is no need for any electrical supply or batteries.
When the water level in the bath reaches the overflow outlet, water enters the central chamber and activates the float. As the float rises, the magnets that are set into each end of the float repel the magnets on the flapper valves in the supply ports. The flapper valves are pushed into the water flow where the water pressure holds them in the shut position.
“At that point, there is water pressure on one side of the valve and atmospheric pressure on the downstream side so even when the overflow stops and the central float drops back, the valves stay in the shut-off position,” Seccombe explains.
A trickle of water is allowed to bypass the flapper valve and out of the faucet. The trickle indicates the faucet is still open, but the water level will continue to drain and drop. This allows the float to revert to its rest position, but the flapper valves stay shut, held in place by the water pressure.
Once the faucet is turned off, the pressure equalizes each side of the flapper valve, it is then drawn back to the open position by the magnet on the float. The faucet can now be opened again and full flow will resume.
Flowban must be installed in a location where there is access enabling it to be removed in the rare event of it needing cleaning. And it must be installed in a vertical plane and be attached to either 1-1/2-inch PVC or 1-1/2-inch brass waste pipe. It cannot be installed on a waste with a trip activator passing through the waste pipe.
The water supply pipes are designed to be connected using John Guest push fit fittings. The connection to the inlets are ¾-inch CTS fittings and ¾-inch CTS inserts are required on the outlets. The flow direction must be for the bottom to the top. The supply lines can be either hot or cold water or premixed. In the latter case, the flow should be split below the unit and reconnected above it. If required, only one inlet may be connected.
Faucets may be located anywhere on the bathtub as required. The faucet controls can be fitted either before or after the unit.
“Under normal usage conditions,” Seccombe adds. “Flowban requires no maintenance or servicing. However, it is recommended that a bi-annual check is carried out to confirm correct functioning of the unit. If foreign matter is obstructing the movement of the float in the central chamber then cleaning will be required but access to the chamber is very simple.”
Flowban, which has been sold in the US since 2009, complies with NSF Standard 61 and IAPMO IGC 241.