Guide to New Boilers and Shower Pressure Re October 14, 2021

Guide to New Boilers and Shower Pressure

shower head

When you’ve had a long day at work and you want to come home and relax, a lot of us will jump into a hot bath or have a long hot shower, get out of our work clothes, and into our comfy pj’s. However, sometimes, our relaxation time can be ruined when we experience issues with our water pressure or water temperature. This is why it’s so important that your boiler and water system work together in harmony. 

When you purchase a new or replacement boiler for your home, it is important that it is efficient enough to heat up your home. If you are unsure what size kW boiler you need for your home, we have a separate blog on this. However, this blog will be discussing tips and tricks to increase your water pressure along with different types of showers and their compatibility with your boiler type, to ensure that you can enjoy those long hot showers this winter. 

Your water pressure can depend on several different factors such as the height of the reservoir or water tower above your property. If your home is on a hill, for example, you probably won’t get the same pressure as the people at the bottom. The number of people using the mains water pipe at one time will also affect the pressure. At busier times of the day, such as when you’re getting ready for work or when the kids are getting ready for school, you’re bound to experience weaker water pressure. 

If you think there may be an issue with the water pressure coming into your home, it’s always best to get an expert opinion. 

Tip and Tricks to Increase Your Water Pressure

Descale your shower head

Your showerhead holes could be filled with limescale build-up which stops the water from coming through. Usual supermarket cleaning products will help to solve the problem. You may find that household ingredients such as citric juice and vinegar will also help with limescale build-up.

Check your boiler pressure

Locate your boiler’s pressure gauge. This will tell you whether or not your central heating system’s pressure needs topping up. If your boiler pressure is too low, you won’t get piping hot water in your home. If you need help understanding why your boiler is losing pressure or how to repressurise your combi boiler, we have separate blogs for these topics. Feel free to head over to that blog, once you’ve finished reading this one, of course.

Check for leaks

If you have already checked your boiler pressure and you’ve tested the water pressure in all the taps and showers in your home and you have found low pressure in the house as a whole, you may have a leak somewhere. This will affect your water pressure.

Install a shower pump

If you have a conventional boiler, also known as a regular boiler, which is installed alongside both a hot and cold water cylinder, then you should consider a shower pump. The pump will give the water a boost as it flows from the hot water tank to the shower. If you are looking for more information on different types of showers, we will discuss this further in the blog.

You could also install an electric shower

This is another option however, they only use cold water so they take a while to warm up, so they are not ideal for homes that require a high demand for instant hot water.

Ensure your boiler is compatible with your shower

Your boiler type will affect the water pressure in your cold and hot water taps. Here is a breakdown of how each boiler type works regarding water pressure:

Combi boiler: The cold water coming into your home will be connected and fed by the mains pressure.

System boiler: Similar to the combi boiler, your cold water will be supplied from the mains water pressure.

Regular boiler: With regular boilers, your boiler will be installed alongside an additional cold water tank, which is typically installed in the attic of your home. This cold water tank is supplied with cold water from the mains. This tank then feeds water to your taps.

Combi boilers are great space savers but they can struggle with providing a strong water pressure if more than one shower is being used at the same time. Combi boilers are ideal for smaller homes with limited space, however for larger homes with several bathrooms and taps, with a higher demand for instant hot water, then a system or regular boiler is recommended. 

What is normal water pressure for my home?

  • Water pressure is measured in bars. 1 bar is the force you need to shoot water 10 meters up in the air. 
  • The Water Services Regulations Authority, Ofwat, says that all water providers are required to provide water pressure of at least one bar. 
  • The average household’s water pressure is around 1 to 2 bars.

How to check water pressure?

  • Make sure all taps and water appliances are turned off. 
  • Turn your cold kitchen tap on.
  • Set a timer for 6 seconds.
  • Hold a measuring jug under the tap for 6 seconds.
  • Have a look at how much water has been collected and multiply it by ten. This will help you to get your flow rate in litres per minute.

Different Shower Types

Now we’ve discussed how your boiler system can affect your water pressure, as well as tips and tricks to increase your water pressure, how to check your water pressure as well as how to measure it, let’s get into the different types of showers available. 

This section will be discussing shower types, where they are used, and which central heating system to work with best.

Mixer Showers

Mixer showers are used in most households in the UK. Mixer showers do exactly what they say on the tin, they use both the cold and hot water inlets to combine the water to ensure it is the perfect temperature when it comes out of your showerhead. 

With mixer showers, you are in total control of the temperature of your water. The temperature is pre-set at a temperature you are comfortable with and the system will then mix cold and hot water until it reaches your pre-set temperature. Mixer showers are installed with a lever handle which allows you to change the temperature at any time, even during your shower. 

Mixer showers are most compatible with gravity-fed water systems or a property with a large water supply. As a result of this, they are a lot more powerful than an electric shower, because they have a stronger water flow.

There are a few pros and cons to mixer showers. The benefits of having a mixer shower installed is:

  • Requires both a hot and cold water supply
  • Stronger water flow than electric showers
  • Concealed styles are available

However, the cons are:

  • Typically mixer showers are connected to pipes, meaning that when the water is being drawn elsewhere, for example, whilst flushing the toilet etc, you may notice a dramatic increase or decrease in the temperature of the water, which could result in scalding.

  • Mixer showers need to be supplied with hot water from your boiler, meaning that if your boiler breaks down, you will be left with no hot water. But don’t panic, you can just pop over to our website and get yourself a new boiler, its no biggie 😉

Mixer showers also have a good array of versatile style options, too. These are generally split into two categories:

  • Exposed Valve Mixer Showers
  • Concealed Valve Mixer Showers

What is the difference? Well, unlike an exposed valve shower, a concealed valve shower is built into the tiling of your shower enclosure. This creates a sleeker and less cluttered appearance, which is good for modern or more luxurious bathrooms. Typically, all that will remain visible is a neat control panel and your shower head. 

Some mixer showers also offer thermostatic valve control. These control valves quickly react to sudden changes in temperature to ensure the water doesn’t scald you, meaning that if someone turns on a cold water tap in the kitchen, the thermostatic valve will make sure you aren’t shocked by a sudden jet of hot water!

Thermostatic mixer showers work in a slightly different way to manual mixer showers, in that they are designed to keep the water at a constant temperature, which avoids this. They are built with a thermostatic valve to help provide safety to those using them. The benefit of mixer showers is that they are easy to install and maintain.

Electric Showers

Electric showers are a preferred choice by many due to being very efficient because you don’t need to heat an entire tank of water when using it, resulting in minimal energy usage. An electric shower is heated via an electrical heating element. What sets them apart from most types of showers is that they only require a cold water supply. Rather than taking hot water from your boiler or hot water tank, they can instantly heat water themselves with this in-built heating device.

Electric showers work by mixing this hot water with cold water to reach your preferred temperature. This means that you can enjoy a hot or lukewarm shower, even with a cold water supply. Thanks to this design, if your boiler breaks down, you can still use your shower, at whatever temperature you want it. 

However, there are a few factors you should consider before installing an electric shower, one being that the water flow is a lot weaker than your typical power shower and takes longer to warm up, not great for families that have a high demand for instant hot water. You can combat this issue by installing an in-built pump. 

If your home has a low-pressure water system or hard water issues, an electric shower is not recommended. Electric showers are most compatible with combination boilers. Showers with built-in pumps aren’t compatible with combi boilers, as it can cause a dangerous amount of pressure – electric showers don’t usually include this feature.

Are you interested in learning more about how combi boilers work? If so, we have a separate blog explaining exactly how they work. 

How much energy do electric showers use? Well, like any other electrical appliance, showers carry power ratings that tell you how much energy they use each second. 

Typically, you’ll find a shower uses somewhere between 7.5kW (kilowatts) and 11kW; the higher the number, the more energy you’re using and the better the shower experience. The number of kilowatts represents the number of units of electricity you’d use if you showered for a full hour—so an 11kW shower would use 11 units, for example. Multiply this number by the unit cost of your electricity to figure out how much a one-hour shower would cost, then divide it down to find the cost of a shower lasting two, four, eight, or however many minutes you prefer.

Digital Showers

Digital showers aren’t as techy as they may seem. Like a standard mixer shower, they are connected to both a hot and cold water supply. However, when you turn it on and set your temperature, a message is sent to the integrated thermostat – either along a wire or wirelessly, depending on which shower you have. The hot and cold water is then accurately blended together to ensure the optimum temperature for the best shower experience. 

Some people mistakenly think digital showers use your wifi, however, they don’t. You don’t need to connect to wifi to use a digital shower – they use their own independent connection which can be either wired or wireless. If you choose to use the wireless connection, you will need to charge it from time to time. It will also need to be within a 10-metre radius of the shower. 

Depending on which shower you have, you can operate your digital shower via a smartphone, this is done through a Bluetooth connection.

Digital Showers are specifically designed for combination boilers and other high-pressure systems. Digital showers are thermostatic which is similar to mixer showers they respond to fluctuations in temperature and pressure, such as when someone in your household runs a tap or decides to shower at the same time. With a digital shower, you can also create presets to ensure you get the perfect temperature every time. 

As digital showers are operated with a touch button, they can help those who have physical difficulty with turning shower levers. Most digital showers also have the ability to set temperature preferences, so you can step straight into comfortable temperature water, without having to fiddle with any knobs. This is great for elderly people or those who suffer from physical disabilities. 

Power Shower

Power showers, which are also known as pumped showers are great to have in your home because of their speed. Power showers are usually the preferred option for houses with gravity-fed water systems or where water pressure is particularly low. As they work in a similar way to a mixer shower, you also need to make sure you have a large enough hot water tank to suit your requirements – if not, you do run the risk of your shower running cold after multiple uses. 

If you have a combi boiler, your water system will run at mains pressure, meaning it should already be pumped; an electric shower or mixer shower is your best option. If you have a large supply of hot water that works via a gravity-fed system and you’re finding your water pressure leaves a lot to be desired – you would benefit from a power shower!

Thinking about purchasing a power shower? Here are the benefits:

  • Instantly increased flow rate for a more powerful shower
  • It is cheaper and more convenient than installing a mixer shower and pumps separately
  • Installation should be quick and easy if you are replacing a mixer shower
  • While they do use more water, many come with eco options so you can use as little power as you need
  • Thermostatic valve options are available

There are a few downsides to having a power shower installed in your home, one of these being that because it’s a sophisticated shower unit, they are more expensive than a standard mixer or electric shower, but they also use more water, meaning more money being spent on your energy bills. 

Images have been taken from https://www.plumbworld.co.uk.

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