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unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

Troy, MI
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6 posts
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unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

I have read that in some smaller hotels there are hot water heaters that are connected to the showers and can be unsafe. Does anyone know if this is true?

Playa Hermosa...
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1. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

These units are called "widow makers" but are not found in the newer or better hotels. Some smaller "cabinas" may still use them.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

Ooh, ooh -- one of my favorite topics. The dreaded 'electrocution shower'! :)

What you're talking about are tankless electric-heated showers. Basically, a little gizmo sits on top of the shower head that theoretically warms the water as it passes through. Sometimes they aren't in good shape with exposed wires that if you touch will give you a zap. They look more dangerous than they actually are... unless of course you touch the top of the shower head (no reason to, so don't!) or it's seriously malfunctioning.

Mostly humorous traveler stories of zaps and perceived near-zaps abound, but for what it's worth I've never heard of anyone being seriously injured, and I myself have used pretty hideous setups many a time and am still here to type this message :) If you're really freaked out by the concept, look around your room for a circuit breaker and just kill it before showering.

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

"widow maker", "electrocution shower"? The term I've heard is "Suicide Shower". But Josh is right, they look a lot scarier than they really are. The secret to using them is to carefully regulate the flow. If you like you're shower full force, don't expect a really hot shower. There's just no way that small amount of current can keep up with the flow. OTOH, if you turn down the stream too far....well, I'll leave that to your imagination (don't forget to turn them off when you're done or they can burn out). As far as I know, no one has ever really died from using one and personally I've never even been shocked. Maybe that's just because I had somebody with me the first time to show me how it worked, ahem ... but that's another story. I'll say this, even if you figure it out and get it to work properly, you're probably not going to have the fully satisfying shower you may be used to. Personally, I much prefer mine at home which is plenty hot and with needle spray. Come to think of it, that doesn't sound so safe either.

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

can only confirm both posts above. you will find these shower heaters all over South America and they work , well 'fine'. Never heard of anyone being electrocuted.

Some may need to be adjusted - the owners tend to turn them down, to save hydro, but once you figured it out, they are quite okay at "low stream".

Santa Cruz...
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for Santa Cruz
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5. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

Yeah !!! First ran into one of these in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Scared the **** out of me. But DH told me to relax, like, how many people in the last week who used the shower had been electrocuted? So I gritted my teeth and got clean. Whew.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

For the still-confused, here's a pic:

flickr.com/photos/…

I still stand by what I wrote above, but must admit that they're pretty damn ominous looking! :)

New England
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7. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

The "toast-a-rican" shower head! I've used them often with absolutely no difficulty after the initial "learning curve". They are everywhere...even for sale in the local super market. Just don't touch the shower head while it is on. Most plumbing in Costa Rican hotels is plastic, anyway, so that may cut down on the risk a bit.

west. pennsylvania
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308 posts
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8. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

used them quite frequently on our recent 2 week trip. no problem whatsoever....except they didn't heat the water-that's all.

San Isidro del...
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938 posts
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9. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

Just to add one more reassurance....I am still alive too. I was doing a homestay and had the homeowner show me how to use it. It never did get hot but she insisted it was. Hot is a matter of perception I guess. Others have been too hot but I couldn't cool it off without loosing the heat altogether. They are definitely an experience.

Great pic Josh

On the road
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for
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10. Re: unsafe hot water heaters in hotels

I use one every morning and let me just say that it sure beats coffee for a jump-start to the day! jeje