How To Increase Pressure In An Electric Shower
Water pressure is super important to taking a quality shower. If it’s too high, it feels like your shower is trying to skin you alive. Too low, and it’s no better than bathing by hand with a jug of water. While electric showers are great devices that make it much easier to take a hot shower, they can be hard to get high pressure in. Luckily for you, though, DreamyHome has a pretty good list of things to get done in order to increase the pressure in your electric shower.
The best way to increase pressure in an electric shower are cleaning and replacing the showerhead, installing a shower pump, or reworking your plumbing – but that last one is expensive.
Let’s talk a bit more about what to do and how to even tell if you have low water pressure in your shower in the first place, yeah?
How to Test Your Flow Rate
We talked recently about the proper flow rate for an electric shower. In case you missed it, there’s a good basic rule of thumb to follow for a proper flow rate. Keep in mind that it’ll vary pretty heavily depending on your shower, so you’ll need to do a bit of homework. Check your owner’s manual to find the ideal flow rate for your shower.
You generally want 8 litres of water per minute in an electric shower. This equals out to roughly 1 litre of water every 7.5 seconds.
To test your flow rate, you can grab a pitcher (at least 1 litre in volume, preferably more) with measurements on the side. Run your water at full blast, catching all of it in the pitcher, timing how long it takes to fill. Should it take 7.5 seconds (or less) you have ideal water flow in your shower. If it takes longer, you’ll need to up the flow rate to get good water pressure and flow.
Fixing Flow Rate
There are three things you can do to improve flow rate in your electric shower, ranging in degree of cost and difficulty. The first is cleaning your showerhead and potentially replacing it if needed. The second is installing a shower pump into your home plumbing system. Your last (and most expensive) potential fix is reworking your entire home’s plumbing system.
If you have an old, outdated plumbing system, installing a pressurised unvented cylinder is a good way to provide a strong boost to flow rate. The downside to this is that you’ll need to fully revamp the plumbing in your home. This can get quite spendy and will need to be done by a professional, but it will achieve results. The plus side to this approach is that old plumbing can spring leaks and also cause issues with flow rate, so revamping it can solve this issue, as well.
Cleaning & Replacing Your Showerhead
We talk a lot about the value of cleaning your showerhead here. I’m going to keep banging that drum until I stop hearing about people’s shower issues being resolved by cleaning up their showerhead. One would think that it’s pretty basic knowledge that you should clean the things you use to clean yourself, but apparently not.
Limescale and mineral deposits can build up on anything tap water comes into contact with – including your showerhead and hose. These buildups are common causes for low flow rate, poor water pressure, and a number of other (seemingly unrelated) issues. To fix this, you’ll need white distilled vinegar and some baking soda. A toothbrush and bobby pin or paperclip also prove helpful.
Start with turning off the water to your shower and unscrewing your showerhead. Submerge it in 1-2 litres of white vinegar, adding ~1 tbsp of baking soda. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes, and then give it a good scrub. Use the bobby pin/paperclip to poke out pesky bits of buildup in the showerhead’s holes. If this doesn’t help, replace the showerhead – they’re usually pretty cheap, so it’s not a huge deal.
Install a Pump
This is a middling approach between a full revamp and just replacing your showerhead. It’s a bit complicated, but can be done by a determined DIYer. You’ll need to check into local regulations to see what you can and cannot do with the pump, as some areas have specific laws affecting it. Most places don’t allow you to attach a pump directly to the mains, and will require a break tank.
This is a permanent fix, though, so it’ll last you for a while. A water pump works by essentially supercharging water that passes through it. A propeller pushes the water through the hose at greater force, giving you a better flow rate and pressure. Keep in mind, though, that it can be rather spendy, costing anywhere between £400-£600+, depending on where you live. Adding a plumber’s expenses to the cost will raise it, but it’ll ensure it’s done properly.
Install a Pressurised Unvented Cylinder (Revamp Your Plumbing)
This is the most complicated and expensive approach, but it will give you noticeable results. I don’t recommend that any DIYer try this themself – you want a plumber to do this.
For the uninformed, a pressurised unvented cylinder is a tank that gives your home pressurised hot water. It’s extremely common in flats and more modern homes with more floors. Its counterpart, the gravity-fed tank, is very limited in its purpose and is common in much older homes.
The pressurised unvented cylinder connects between your boiler and tank, with an inlet pipe that sends hot water through a spiral coil. Because of this, you’ll need to overhaul a large part of your home’s plumbing – this isn’t cheap or easy to do. You will be looking at anywhere from £1500-2000+ in costs, not including labour. For that exact reason, I recommend that you don’t do this unless you absolutely need a change to an old, outdated system.
And there you have it – a list of changes you can make to improve water flow in an electric shower, with varying degrees of cost and difficulty. Always, always start by cleaning and inspecting your showerhead. It’s dirtied very easily and can drastically affect your flow rate. And, most importantly, replacing a showerhead is far cheaper than revamping your home plumbing with a pressurised unvented cylinder or shower pump.
While the former should be done by a professional, the latter can often be installed as a DIY project. Just be sure to do your homework on what your location requires and allows before starting. And if you’re ever hesitant about your ability to perform any of these repairs/replacements, please – call a plumber. They’ll get it sorted quickly for you and save you a massive headache.