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How To Increase Water Pressure In Your Shower

 

The Problem

The biggest problem facing anyone who wants to install a shower in their home, either over a bath or in a separate cubicle, is ensuring there is sufficient water pressure to operate the shower properly. People expect a shower to deliver a strong invigorating spray rather than just a trickle of water! However all too often they find that although water pressure is adequate at bath and basin taps, once a shower is fitted, where the spray head is higher than other outlets, the pressure at the spray head is nowhere near high enough for showering.

power shower

The explanation for this is the spray head being too close to the water level in the cold water storage tank. Most showers will not perform unless there is a minimum height of 1 metre between the spray head and the water level in the tank. This is called the head of water. The higher the head is, the greater your water pressure. Find out about water pressure in your area .

Traditionally, British water systems are connected to a cold water storage tank which is kept in the loft. These are known as “gravity fed systems”. They are low pressure, and rely on the height of the tank to provide water flow pressure for the house. Due to height restrictions imposed on where the tank can go, low pressure is often a resulting factor; sometimes as low as 0.1 bar. If your home suffers from low water pressure, a standard shower valve is often not enough to provide a powerful and invigorating flow of water.

A quick
fix solution to this problem is to purchase a low pressure shower head.

Tre Mercati Millennium Low Pressure Chrome Plated Shower Handset

Tre Mercati Millennium Low Pressure Chrome Plated Shower Handset
£46.54
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It will
work better than a standard shower head however there are some longer term options that will give far better results.

Options Available

There
are three basic ways to increase the pressure so that you can enjoy the
powerful shower that you need:

  • Installing
    a Pressurised Unvented
    Cylinder
  • Fitting
    an independent Electric
    Shower
    with a Cold
    Water Accumulator
  • Fitting
    a Booster Pumpor Power Shower

Installing a Pressurised Unvented Cylinder

This method involves removing the cold water storage tank which feeds the hot water cylinder and replacing it with a pressurised cylinder that takes its feed directly from the mains. Plumbing has to be extended or even replaced entirely, making this an expensive and complex project, however it is something that only needs to be done once and the cylinder itself will last a lifetime.

Fitting an independent Electric Shower with a Cold Water Accumulator

This involves the fitting of an entirely independent instantaneous electric shower heater fed with cold water from the rising main. The rising main will generally have considerably greater pressure; however the heater itself can limit performance. Since the flow is controlled by the time it takes to heat the water to the required temperature, whenever someone runs the tap in the kitchen, also fed from the rising main, or when the cold water storage tank needs replenishing, water pressure will also drop. The way to overcome this drop off in water pressure is to install a Cold Water Accumulator. An accumulator is a pressurised vessel that stores water up at mains pressure meaning that when used in conjunction with an electric shower, a constant supply of pressurised water is available and in turn you will experience an extremely enjoyable powerful shower. Based on an average flow rate of 9 litres of water per minute at 2 bar pressure you would need a 45 litre accumulator to take a 5 minute shower with 5 minutes being the average amount of time spent in the shower. With this in mind we would recommend a 50 litre accumulator combined with an electric shower as the best and most cost effective solution to your problem.

Altecnic Ultra Pro Expansion Vessel with interchangeable membrane for Potable Water Horizontal 50ltr
Altecnic Ultra Pro Expansion Vessel with interchangeable membrane for Potable Water Horizontal 50ltr
£165.56
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MX Inspiration Lxi 9.5kW Electric Shower
MX Inspiration Lxi 9.5kW Electric Shower
£109.32
Add to Cart

Fitting a booster pump or Power Shower

If you wish to keep your gravity fed system and want a bath shower mixer or shower valve then your only option is to add a booster pump to your water system, thereby providing suitable water pressure to run a choice of stylish shower valves. This method is generally more expensive than fitting an electric shower and accumulator but when taking water from a gravity fed system is the only way to increase the pressure.

Booster pumps are particularly suitable for installations when the pipes are located between the mixer and spray head, embedded in the walls; the situation you will find in most homes. Connections are made to the hot and cold supply pipes before it reaches the mixer valve. The pumps can also be installed to boost water supply to other taps in the house.

Power showers give a wonderful shower of heated water and are ideal for homes where there is low water pressure from the water storage tanks. Fitting a shower pump will overcome low water flow rate and also remove the effect of the shower flow dropping when water is drawn off in another part of the property.

The term ‘Power Shower’ is a loose expression for any shower system which includes a method of boosting water flow. The most common example is having a booster pump fitted, which works in line with your existing gravity plumbing system. This means that you have a cold water storage tank in your loft, with a hot water storage cylinder in your airing cupboard, and if this doesn’t give enough pressure in your shower, then a pump can be fitted to give more flow and more pressure.

Fitting a pump can provide very good water pressure for your shower, and by choosing different strengths of pump you can have a very powerful shower capable of pumping larger shower heads and multiple body sprays. However it is very important to understand that a pump is not a “magic bullet”, and will not fix existing plumbing faults, so it is important to have the overall design checked first to make sure that your chosen pump is going to be compatible with your plumbing system, and that there are no underlying issues that could become problematic at a later date. Learn how to choose the perfect shower.

There are two methods of pumping shower water:

  • Single impeller pumps
  • Twin impeller pumps

Single Impeller Pumps

Early pumped showers had an electric motor driving a single pump impeller connected between the shower mixer outlet and the shower head. This style of pump has fallen out of favour these days because of problems with how much space it needs. The most convenient location for this type is in the loft above the shower, but this leaves the pump prone to frost damage, as it can’t be insulated because the pump requires a clear airflow to work properly. It can also generate a lot of noise which echoes around the upstairs of the house. Other locations mean awkward and longer pipe runs between the mixer and shower head which means it takes longer to respond to temperature control changes by the user.

Twin Impeller Pumps

Current systems generally use a motor driving two separate twin impellers pumping the hot and cold supplies before the shower mixer. This means the pump can be located anywhere in the pipe route from tanks to mixer. The best position for these pumps, if possible, is next to the hot-water cylinder, normally in the airing cupboard. As these pumps are not silent, you may want to insulate the cupboard for noise. When installing the pump, remember to install it at the bottom or below the cylinder to ensure it always remains full of water.

Bristan Thermostatic Power Shower 1000 (White)

Bristan Thermostatic Power Shower 1000 (White)
£251.60

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shower pumpView Our Range of Pumps

Considerations

  • A pumped shower needs to have both hot and cold feeds from storage tanks.
  • Pumps must be fitted in accordance with current Water Regulations and not be connected to the water mains, either directly or indirectly, via a mains water heater. Read the official guide to Water Regulations.
  • You cannot use a pump to make a power shower from an electric shower or any other shower connected directly to the mains cold water supply
  • Water pumps cannot be used with combination boilers.
  • Power showers use a lot of water if used for prolonged periods. Remember to consider your water bill and the environment!
  • Ensure the waste pipe is large enough to drain the water from the shower tray, around 27 litres of water a minute.