Here’s How To Make Your Electric Shower More Powerful
There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a piping hot shower after a hard day’s work. With lashings of hot water and enough pressure to rinse those cares of the world away with the soap suds. But, if your shower suddenly loses water pressure and your Niagara Falls suddenly becomes a trickle, you need to keep reading.
In this article, we’ll look at the most common (and not so common) reasons why your shower has reduced power. Of course if your shower has always had low pressure, that’s a whole different matter. This article is primarily for sudden loss of water pressure in the shower and how to fix it.
If your electric shower is running cold you need to check out this article.
Is It Just You?
The first thing you need to establish is, if it’s only your home that’s been affected by this problem or if your neighbours are experiencing the same thing. If your home, as well as the rest of your neighbourhood are all experiencing the same thing, you need to contact your local water authority and get them to sort it out.
If it turns out it’s just your home, all your neighbours can now laugh at your situation, no sorry, (although they probably will) if it is just your home at least you are in control of the problem and won’t have to wait until the water authority decides to get around to it. The first thing to check is the water pressure that supplies your home.
Checking The Water Pressure
In the UK the water boards guarantee a water pressure of at least one bar on mains water. One bar of pressure corresponds to the amount of pressure needed to push water to a height of 10 metres. Coincidentally, one bar of water pressure is the minimum requirement for an electric shower to work effectively.
However there are factors that can affect the pressure of the water, like how far your home is from the source, how many hills the water has to climb, and how much your neighbours are using.
To check the water pressure in your shower, time how long it takes to fill a one litre jug using the showerhead. If it’s 6 seconds or less, your water pressure is fine. If it takes longer than 6 seconds, your water pressure could be low. Check other outlets, the tap in the sink, the bath tap, kitchen sink tap, if these all take longer than 6 seconds your home has low water pressure. If it’s just the shower, there are ways to fix it, especially if it’s been fine but has suddenly become a problem.
How To Increase The Shower’s Pressure
There are a number of things you can do to increase the shower’s pressure, but it is a process of elimination. The following steps should get to the bottom of your problem.
- Remove the showerhead and inspect it
Check to see if it’s clogged or partially blocked with limescale. Poke a cocktail stick or small needle into each of the holes to ensure they’re not blocked. Give the showerhead a thorough clean before replacing it onto the hose. Check that the showerhead isn’t a water restricting head. Water restricting heads do just that, restrict the flow of water. If this turns out to be your problem, just replace the showerhead with a non restricting head.
- Inspect the shower hose
Make sure the hose isn’t twisted or damaged, many shower hoses are made with two layers: a steel outer casing with a rubber or plastic inner hose. If the inner hose has developed a leak, this might be why the pressure has dropped in the shower.
Turn the shower on and look along the length of the hose and pay particular attention to the areas where the hose joins the shower and at the other end where it attaches to the showerhead. If you notice any leaks, replace the shower hose.
- Check the shower’s filter
This might involve taking the actual shower apart, if you’re not confident or qualified this might best be left to an expert.
- Check that the stopcock is fully opened
This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised at just how many times we hear of plumbers getting called out to properties where another plumber has recently carried out some work and hasn’t fully opened the stopcock.
- Install a pump
To increase the flow rate on a low pressure shower you can get a plumber to install a pump on the piping between the mains and the shower. The water is boosted through the pump via an internal impeller. Depending on your existing plumbing and your DIY experience it could be possible to install the pump yourself, but we recommend calling in a plumber to do the work.
If after completing these steps you still have low shower pressure, it’s time to look at your hot water system. Do you have a combi boiler or gravity fed system?
Gravity Fed System
You will easily identify a gravity fed system because you will have a cold water tank in your loft and a hot water cylinder in one of the upstairs rooms. The system works by relying on the mains pressure forcing the water from the ground up to the water tank in the loft. This water tank feeds the hot water cylinder which stores the hot water until it is needed.
A combi boiler or to give it its proper name, a combination boiler supplies hot water on demand. There’s no storage tank or cylinder, the cold water comes directly from the mains and is heated in the boiler as soon as you turn on the tap.
With a gravity fed system it’s possible to install a power shower to increase the water pressure through the showerhead. This isn’t possible with a combi boiler because a power shower needs to be connected to a hot water cylinder which combi boilers don’t have. However, if you are running your hot water and heating through a combi boiler and your shower water pressure is low, you can install an electric shower.
Electric showers aren’t reliant on your hot water system at all. They are fed via the cold water supply directly off your mains. The water is heated inside the shower and never runs out. As long as you have a good cold water supply the electric shower will provide you with constant hot water at a steady flow rate.
If your water pressure is too low you can install a power shower or pumped electric shower as they are also called. Pumped electric showers are fed by the cold main and heat up the water internally and are then forced through to the showerhead via the internal electric pump.
If Your Electric Showerhead Needs More Power
- Clean the showerhead
If it has a limescale build up you should soak the showerhead in a plastic bag filled with vinegar and sealed with a rubber band or cable tie and leave overnight. Then rinse and use as normal.
- Replace the showerhead
Your showerhead might have a water restricting head which could be causing the low power. You can change the showerhead for a low-pressure showerhead.
- Install a water pump
These are fitted onto the water pipe between the shower and the mains, and increase the pressure of the water flowing through the pipe to the shower.
- Install a power shower
A power shower works in the same way as an electric shower but with the addition of an internal pump which pumps the water from the shower to the showerhead at an increased pressure.
- Install an electric shower with a cold water accumulator
These involve installing an electric shower that is fed cold water from its own water tank which ensures the shower is never without water. The water is forced out of the showerhead under high pressure. These can be expensive.
- Change your boiler for a pressurised unvented cylinder
This involves the removal of the cold water tank and replacing it with a pressurised unvented boiler that is fed with cold water directly from the mains supply. This often means changing the entire plumbing system of the home and can be expensive.
If you live in an old house it could be that you need to completely replace the whole plumbing system. As well as replacing the pipework. A plumber will remove the cold water tank and replace it with a pressurised unvented cylinder which is fed directly from the mains and uses the pressure from the main to pump the hot water throughout the home.
Before you embark on the expensive journey of a whole new plumbing system, we recommend trying our suggestions first. It could be all you need to do is unblock the showerhead or replace the shower hose. Both of these are relatively inexpensive options and easily done by anyone, even someone with little or no DIY skills.