Sun 26 Aug, 2012 02:38 pm
I recently purchased a safety assist grab bar for our tub/shower enclosure, since my wife tells me that she's just "counting the days" until the first time she slips and fall (while apparently engaged in some feats of acrobatism in the shower that might challenge the skills of even the performers of the Cirque du Soleil) I don't know, and I chose not to ask . . .
I was pretty sure that the installation of this kind of grab bar was well within my home improvement "know-how". After a purchasing a stainless steel model from the local home improvement big box store, I read the directions (I get big credit for doing that), and noted the standard guidance about locating and attaching both end of the grab bar firmly into the wood studs behind the tub enclosure. I located the studs easily enough, and they appear to be the standard, 16-inch on center placement. Before I started drilling (luckily), I noticed that even with some nominal adjustability, the maximum length of the grab bar is only around 10 inches - and clearly no amount of "stretching" is going to increase that length to 16 inches. Clearly, I need something different, but exactly what is the good/benefit of selling a 9 1/2 - 10 inch grab bar, when most construction employs the 16 inch 0n center configuration, and the instructions even suggest to be on the lookout for the 16 inch on center stud locations?
Was this shorter bar maybe intended for installation in a vertical configuration (running parallel with a single, vertical stud)? We're interested in a horizontal (or maybe angled) installation, because when you're slipping, I'm not sure you want to bet the farm on being able to reach out and grab a very narrow grab bar which is positioned vertically.
It must have indeed been designed for vertical installation, though I don't see big benefits for that. I don't know why they make them that short, but I would only consider it to be an exceptionally sturdy wash cloth rack. Too short for a towel rack, of course.
Mine is angled downwards, with the high end towards the shower head. It works well. You might want one longer than the 16" centers. Spot one end into a stud at the high end and let the angel be determined by the point at which the lower end aligns with the stud.
The vertical ones are helpful if they are at just below shoulder height to help maintain balance when getting in and out of the shower area.
Once inside the shower area, there should be another (horizontal or vertical) just above waist height to help catch yourself if you start to slip.
If the wall is not too flimsy, toggle bolts at the non-stud end will work. I have installed many this way and never had one move, due to usage.
Grab bars installed horizontally are considered to offer the greatest safety. These provide assistance when sitting or rising, or help to grab onto in case of a slip or fall. Angled ones are preferred in cases where people need help pulling themselves up from a seated position. Vertical ones help with balancing while a person is in the standing position.