The Plumber’s Guide to Fixing Low Water Pressure

Fed up with waiting hours to fill a bathtub? The morning shower lacking any real pressure? Or maybe you’re dissatisfied with inadequate performance from your combi boiler? Then you, like millions of others across the UK, may be experiencing low water pressure.

The good news is that you don’t have to continue living this way. The cause of low water pressure issues can range from the simple to the complex and quite often you may not even require a plumber to fix the problem.

So how do you diagnose low water pressure issues? What are the solutions to these problems? And, most importantly, when should you call a plumber?

Well, here at Anchor Pumps pump systems are our forte and we’ve spoken to our most experienced in-house engineers to help us create this guide. Find out how you can diagnose and fix all your low water pressure problems below.

What is Low Water Pressure?

In the UK, the standard measurement unit for water pressure is the bar. A plumber will classify a home plumbing system as experiencing low water pressure if the pressure in a home’s system is less than one bar. One bar is equivalent to one atmosphere, the standard atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level.

In standard circumstances, the amount of water pressure we experience in our supply depends on a variety of factors.

These include:

The height of the home’s water supply inlet relative to the water mains supply. Water pressure will fall the higher it has to flow through a pipe.

• The proximity of the house to pumps installed along the water mains. Water pressure will be higher the closer a property is to the pumping station.

• Geographical elevation of the property. Low lying areas generally have a high water pressure, while pressures are lower in high lying regions.

• Geographical location of the property. Cities like London with a vast amount of people and old pipework (small and potentially damaged) will experience poor water pressure when demand is high.

• Usage and the time of day. Water pressures are often lower in the morning when a large part of the population is using water over a short period.

• Leaks in the water supply system. If water is being lost from the mains or any connecting supply pipe, the final water pressure will inevitably fall.

Now, even if the mains and supply pipes are in good working order and the property is located in a low lying region, not far from a pumping station, you may still experience low water pressure due to household causes. These causes are explained further in the next section.

What’s Causing Low Water Pressure?

Before you go buying a pump, messing around with any pipes or unscrewing taps, it’s important that you identify what is causing the low water pressure. If you believe you may have a low water pressure issue in your home, even if it is just in one area e.g. in one tap or only in the shower, then use the exercise below to test the quality of your water flow.

If you think you may have water problems then you can easily test your flow in three simple steps. All you need for the test is: a measuring jug, a timer and a calculator (or excellent maths skills!).

graphic showing the three steps to checking if you have low water pressure

If you are experiencing low water pressure throughout your home then you may have one of the problems outlined below. Do the checks below to help diagnose your issue.

Obstructed valves

Perhaps you’ve just bought a new home, or maybe you’ve had building work conducted that required shutting off your water valves. Whatever the reason, there is a chance that your water valves were not fully opened. If the water valve is only semi-open then you may be restricting the amount of water entering your home, so make sure that the valve is open the full way. If the valve seems fully open but you are still encountering water pressure issues, then the valve may be broken. If this is the case do not under any circumstances try to fix it without proper training.

Often found under your kitchen sink, a water valve in most British homes will look like the below. Again, if you believe the water valve to be broken, contact a plumber immediately.

image showing the user what a water valve looks like and how to operate a water valve

Leaks

Leaks are the worst case scenario when it comes to low water pressure. If the water pipes are damaged then this will cause low water pressure, as not all the water will make it to your taps. After you’ve checked to see if the valve is fully open, you can conduct a leak check of your home. Now, this may seem scary but it is actually quite simple. After checking that the kids don’t need an immediate shower, close your main water valve and take a reading from the water meter. Check back in two hours and if the figure on the meter has increased, then this is a sign that your pipes have a leak.

Your water meter will look something like the below.

image showing the user what a water meter looks like

You will usually find it in one of these places:

– In the path outside your home

– In a box on an outside wall

– Inside your home: either under the sink, in a cellar or in a downstairs toilet

Clogging

Not to be confused with clogged drains, water pipe clogging is generally one of the most common causes of low water pressure in British homes. These clogs usually build-up when iron pipes are present. Iron is particularly vulnerable to rusting which can then break off and cause an obstruction within your system. With this issue, you also face the problem of things like dirt, gravel or sand entering your pipes through the mains water supply.

Unfortunately, if you suspect that clogged pipes may be restricting your water supply then you will need to contact a plumber. In this situation, the best scenario will mean that you will only need to have your pipes removed and cleaned, with the more serious scenario meaning that you could need your water pipes completely replaced.

Designer Taps

OK, we get it, designer taps look fantastic. But are they built to be efficient in your plumbing system? Modern taps are built for modern homes and they often have lower flow rates that are specifically designed for use within high-pressure systems. Our advice is to weigh up the pros and cons. What do you value more, a stylish shower head or a long, refreshing morning shower?

Low Pump Power

Regular maintenance checks are advised to make sure your pump is working at optimum capacity, so if you suspect that your pump is over two years old then one of two things may be happening. Either your pump is malfunctioning or it simply isn’t manufactured to be powerful enough for your needs.

With millions of people right across the UK complaining about water pressure issues, we suspect that most homes are simply using malfunctioning or improper pumps.

How to Boost Low Water Pressure in Your Home

Note: It is illegal to add a booster pump directly to mains water pressure. The added pressure created by a booster pump can damage mains pipework. In most cases you will need to insert a break tank.

In many cases, the issue is simply that the mains water pressure supply is too low. The simplest solution to your water supply issues lies in a booster pump. Found in homes of all shapes and sizes, booster pumps are a relatively cheap option to add extra pressure to your water system.

Booster pumps are designed to increase water pressure by passing water into the pump from your mains supply and then ejecting it into your home water system at a higher pressure. Don’t worry though, most quality pumps will be fitted with a pressure switch which creates a pressure setting that cannot be exceeded. Not only are you getting a long, stimulating shower, but you can relax in the knowledge that your pump is keeping you safe.

See our booster pump recommendations below.

What type of booster pump do you need?

If you’re considering purchasing a booster pump there really is only a handful of pump brands worthy of your time. These are Grundfos, Salamander and Stuart Turner.

Here is the top pump from each brand:

Salamander Home Boost 1.6 Bar Mains Water Pressure Booster Pump 240V

One of the leading options for correcting low water pressure is the Home Boost range from Salamander pumps. These are able to raise your water pressure to around 1.5 bar whilst still ensuring you stay compliant with water-use and installation regulations. They are compact and easy to install and quiet in operation too, so they won’t disrupt your home with extra noise.

Image Showing the Salamander Home Boost 1.6 Bar Mains Water Pressure Booster Pump 240V

Find the Salamander Home Boost 1.6 Bar Mains Water Pressure Booster Pump 240V here

Grundfos Scala2 3-45 Variable Speed Home Booster

Another leading option is the Variable Speed Home Booster range from Grundos. The SCALA 2 is a fully integrated, self-priming system that is ideal for boosting water pressure in domestic applications. Integrated speed control also means that the pump will only operate when it’s needed, so it won’t hit your energy bills either. This pump must be used in conjunction with a break tank.

Image showing the Grundfos Scala2 3-45 Variable Speed Domestic Home Booster Pump Set

Find the Grundfos Scala2 3-45 Variable Speed Home Booster here

Stuart Turner Flomate Mains Boost Extra 200

Stuart Turner’s Flomate range is one of the finest pump collections on the market. Designed to be connected directly to the incoming mains, Flomate Mains Boost Extra is fully compliant with UK water regulations. The 3 bar of pressure will give a deserved boost to your water supply while the tech also comes with an integrated break tank which removes the need for inserting a separate cold water break tank.

Image showing the Stuart Turner Flomate Mains Boost 3 Bar (Combi-Boiler) Pressure Booster Pump

Find the Stuart Turner Flomate Mains Boost Extra 200 here.

How and Where to Fit a Booster Pump

While a booster pump can be fitted by yourself, we suspect that the majority of people reading this article may want to contact a plumber.

Saying that, booster pump installation is much simpler and quicker than most would think. All of the fittings you need for installation are included in the pump kit. Included are: washers, a filter washer, a straight connector, an isolation valve connector and some adapters to cope with either 15mm or 22mm pipe connections. Full instructions are also included, so you’re ready to start installing as soon as you get the kit.

Installation should take approximately an hour and you only need a few tools to get started. As mentioned above, if you’re not confident doing it yourself, you can get a qualified plumber to carry out the work for you.

Depending on your area, it should only cost about £50 to £100 to install a booster pump.

If you are feeling confident and you’re ready to install, then watch this excellent video from Salamander Pumps for guidance.

Low Water Pressure and When to Call a Plumber…

So if you read this article thoroughly you should be able to take the first major steps to diagnosing why you have low water pressure. If you’ve found the issue then you should also know how to go about fixing that issue. If you are still unsure then scan the following list of issues to see if you can identify your problem. Please note that all of the below problems will require the attention of a qualified professional.

1. Dripping Taps

At first glance, it might not seem like a massive issue, but a dripping tap can have a major impact on your bank account. Over the course of a year, a dripping tap can cause you to flush hundreds of gallons of water down the drain, along with a sizeable amount of money.

It may seem like a simple, easy task to replace a washer or two, to create a water-tight seal, but due to the technical requirements of each tap, the job is best left to a trained professional.

2. Clogged Pipes

Be it your sink, toilet, bathtub or drain – if it has a pipe connected to it, it can get blocked. Not only is determining if a water pipe is clogged a complex job for a plumber but so is fixing the issue. In the best case scenario a plumber may have to go through and remove all the piping before cleaning and making small repairs. In the worst case, they may need to replace all of your water piping. Again, due to technical aspects of ensuring your pipes are safely removed and re-fitted, the job is best left to a trained professional.

3. Broken Water Valve

A broken water valve is another common plumbing problem that may be causing low water pressure in your home. Now it may seem like an easy fix; replace the old valve with a shiny new one and you’re done, right? No. Water valves are connected to the mains water and removing them can be a complicated job with disastrous consequences if you get it wrong. Definitely leave this job to a professional.

4. Leaking Pipes

Water leaks can be costly, so looking after your water system correctly should be a priority. Even if a leak is relatively minor, it may still cause serious damage over time, along with a costly impact on your bank balance. To save yourself from damaging your property further, ensure that finding and repairing leaking pipes is left to a professional.

Looking for a plumber in your region? Check out our average price for a plumber article here.

How Much Are Home Improvements? Depends Who You Are…

Many of us rely on tradesmen to help us build our dream homes, whether that be building a new conservatory, painting and decorating or fitting a new bathroom. Lots of us are clueless when it comes to understanding what’s involved in the work we ask our tradesmen to do, meaning we readily accept their quotes.

So, do quotations really differ depending on who you are, or where you live? We gave a middle-aged woman, a middle-aged man, and an elderly man a list of 90 plumbers across 9 English counties. We asked them to call listed plumbers to obtain a quote for fitting mixer taps in their kitchen.

Fitting a mixer tap is usually a straightforward job for a plumber. With the plumbing already in place, it’s a case of swapping the older tap, for the new tap.

So, how much did quotations differ?

Differences by Region

London emerged as the most expensive for this particular job at £85. That may not come as a surprise, given that Londoners are used to inflated prices. The West Midlands was the second most expensive at £70. Those in the North West are in luck if they need the services of a plumber as it was cheapest at £63. This was followed by South West at £64.

cost-of-home-improvements-01

Quotes for the work varied across all regions, and in some cases, the range was quite extensive.

While London had the most expensive overall average, the difference between the lowest and highest quotes was just £7. This means that London plumbers are the most consistent when it comes to quoting, which I guess is good news. In contrast, there was a £20 difference between the lowest quote of £55 for the male caller and the quote of £75 for the elderly caller in the North East.

Ok, so calling a tradesman might cost you more money depending on location, we can live with that. But let’s take a look at how quotations vary depending on the caller.

Male, Female and the Elderly

Our three callers contacted the same plumber over a two-month period, asking for a quote for exactly the same job. We analysed quotes obtained by our three callers to find the average for each, and the results were concerning.

The average price across all quotations for each caller was as follows:
Male: £62
Female: £71
Elderly: £75

So, the male caller managed to obtain the cheapest price overall. He was charged nearly 15% less than the female caller and 21% less than the elderly caller. But was this the case in every region?

cost-of-home-improvements-03

Unfortunately, it was. In every single region apart from one, the male caller was quoted the lowest average price. London was the only exception, with the female caller receiving a lower average price by just £2.

The elderly caller fared the worst in 7 out of 9 regions, levelling with the female caller in the West Midlands.

Male VS Female

Now that we’ve established that the male caller obtained the cheapest quotes, we wanted to find out the worst offending region for overcharging women. We did our sums and figured out the percentage difference between the average price for males and females.

We can reveal that plumbers in the North East are the most likely to quote different prices based on gender, with a 53% increase between the male and female caller.

Male VS Elderly

When it comes to overcharging the elderly, the North East is the worst offender once more. The Elderly caller was quoted 36.36% more than the male caller in this particular region. The North West was the second worst offender, charging 27.27% more, followed by the West Midlands with 27.1%.

Lowest VS Highest

The range of quotes for the male, female and elderly caller varied significantly.

Lowest Quotes

For the female caller, the lowest quote was £40 and this obtained from a plumber in the North East.
The lowest quote for the male caller was £45. Plumbers in the North East, East of England, South West and North West all gave this price.
The most modest quote given to the elderly caller was £50 and this was obtained from three plumbers based in the North East, East of England and West Midlands.

Highest Quotes

The highest price given was £120. The quote was given by a plumber in the North East to the female caller and by a plumber in London to the elderly caller.
£90 was the highest price given to the male caller and that was quoted by a plumber in London.

cost-of-home-improvements-04 (2)

Of course, we acknowledge that plumbers and other tradesmen might not be able to give a precise quotation up front, without seeing the work in question. However, it does seem from our research, that on the spot quotations favour men over women and that the elderly pay the highest price. How much do your home improvements cost? Well, the data suggests that it depends on who you are.

Methodology

The aim of this study was to investigate the extent in which costings in the plumbing industry can vary depending on location and the caller. Anchor Pumps acknowledges that quotations will vary depending on region and the way in which a quote is calculated. For example, if the plumber charges a flat hourly rate or whether they charge by job type.

In total, quotes were obtained by ten plumbers for 9 different areas of England. Plumbers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not included in the study. Each plumber was contacted on three separate occasions across a three-month period. First by a female caller, secondly by a male caller and then by an elderly caller. Each caller requested an over the phone quotation for the same job.

The Request: A new mixer tap installation to be fitted in the kitchen, a straight swap with the plumbing already in place.   

Please note that there were twenty-two additional plumbers who stated that they could not provide a quote over the phone without inspecting the work via a photograph or in person. These were not included in the study as no upfront quote was provided.

Quotes included in the study do not include additional VAT.

Below are quotes obtained for each region. The overall averages have been calculated to the nearest whole number.

If you would like to discuss the study, please email apmedia@gmail.com for further details.

London

South East

South West

West Midlands

East Midlands

East of England

Yorkshire

North East

North West

The Complete Guide to Floods

Once called “once in a thousand year” events, flooding in the UK is quickly becoming quite common. While responsibility for what is causing the common occurrence of flooding varies between warmer winters generating higher levels of precipitation and councils not properly considering floodplains when granting planning permission for new builds, the reality in Britain today is that flooding can happen anywhere and at any time of the year.

That’s why almost everyone should have a plan in place for the event of flooding. Flooding can have disastrous consequences for your home, and not being adequately prepared, whether with tools or simple knowledge, can make the consequences all the more dire.

So what should you do in the event of a flood? How can you prevent flood damage? And what are the best tools for cleaning up flood water? Here we list all our advice for flooding along with the essential tools for cleaning up flood damage.

Are you at risk of flooding?

Concerned about the possibility of being at a flood risk? Luckily if you are worried about flooding there are several interactive, government and council alert services that can give you basic information regarding your flood risk.

For immediate flood risk information you can check your location using this government tool here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings#flood-alerts

For information regarding your county flood risk over the next 5 days you can check another government service here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/5-day-flood-risk

For information regarding your general flood risk you can use another government service here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk

For an interactive visualisation you can use Shoothill’s service here: http://www.checkmyfloodrisk.co.uk/

Remember that even if flooding doesn’t directly threaten your location you may still be affected by cuts to transport, power and communication networks. Don’t just check your postcode. Check surrounding postcodes too. Just because your home isn’t directly threatened by floods doesn’t mean that neighbouring homes and streets are unaffected. Flooding to neighbouring streets may restrict your access to basic or emergency services.

What to Do During a Flood?

Unfortunately, even when you’re fully prepared, flooding may just be inevitable. Water rises and even the best flood defences can succumb to the power of nature. So what do you do during a flood? Well, the first thing to remember is that it’s critical you put people before property. Ensure you have co-operated with the emergency services before following this advice. If you are instructed to evacuate your home, evacuate immediately.

If safe to do so, ensure that you turn off gas, electricity and water supplies before flood water enters your home.

  • Secure yourself a clean source of water by gathering water in jugs, saucepans and the bathtub.
  • Gather torches, waterproofs, a first aid kit and any medication you need and move these items to a safe and high area
  • Move family, pets and any essential belongings upstairs or to a high place. It’s important you have a plan and a means for escape.
  • Remember that water and electricity do not mix. Do not touch any source of electricity while stood in water.
  • Keep listening to local radio for updates or call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0845 988 1188
  • Call 999 if you are in danger

How to Prevent Flood Damage

With an estimated bill of one billion pounds generated by flooding in the UK each year it’s never been more essential to ensure your home is protected from flood damage.

It’s not just the potential costs that make flood protection so important, on the more severe level floods can kill and at the less severe, but still highly important, you have the loss of precious memories.

Nobody, not even Chuck Norris himself, can control the weather so it’s not a foolproof plan to believe you can simply prevent flooding. However, there are precautions you can take to prevent or minimise the damage it can cause.

1. Plan Ahead

In a recent survey of people living in areas with a direct flood threat only 50% were aware that there home was at risk. Out of the 50% who knew they were at risk of a flood threat, only 60% had a plan in place for preventing flood damage. The first step is to be aware of how often you may face a flood risk and set up the necessary alerts to ensure you are aware of possible flooding.

2. Determine the Grading of Your Home

Most homes are built with the purpose of draining water away from the structure. Whether a new or old build, it’s worth checking the water flow of your home. This involves simply watching how water accumulates during an average rainstorm. Does it flow away from your home, towards your home or does it pool and stand easily? If you live in an area where standing water is fairly common you may want to talk to your council. If your house is in particular danger they have a responsibility to minimise danger.

3. Blocking Water Out

It may be impossible to keep all the water out of your home, but you can at least reduce the amount that gets in. Sandbags are a good start but also consider drains and ensure sinks and bathtubs are plugged up to stop water entering through these holes.

4. Move Objects

When flood warnings are raised, move as many of your positions out the flood’s path. Electronics, furniture, and anything else that is moveable and may be vulnerable to water damage should be moved upstairs. This may seem like an obvious solution, but when the waters start to rise, it can be difficult to move items quickly; therefore it is essential to be prepared. This is a very simple, easy way to prevent significant and costly damage to your possessions.

5. Invest in a Submersible Pump

Let’s say you live in an area at high risk of flooding, one of the best pieces of equipment that you can own is a submersible pump. If floodwater gets into your home, you should try and remove the water as quickly as possible. They can be useful in the event of a clean-up too and if you do flood you may minimise damage by pumping out water when it comes in.

What is a Submersible Pump?

As the name suggest submersible pumps are capable of operating under water. Often used for the drainage of ponds, swimming pools and drainage systems, they can also be used in the event of flooding.

Just in case you were wondering, yes, the device is hermetically sealed and the motor is close coupled to the body of the pump. This ensures that water cannot enter the internals of the pump and come into contact with electrical components. As I’m sure you aware, electricity and water should not be mixed and only an approved submersible pump from a quality pump dealer should be under water.

How Does a Submersible Work?

While this explanation is on the technical side, it’s worth knowing. Simply a submersible pump pushes water to the surface by pulling water into the pump through the intake, when inside the rotation of the impeller pushes the water through a diffuser. The water is then pumped to the surface.

The great thing about submersible pumps is that there is a variety of pumps designed for different uses. For example, a pump used to drain water from a basement will come with a float switch. This ensures that the pump comes into operation when the water reaches a certain level and stops working before the water runs dry.

Using a Submersible Pump for Flood Clearance

If you need a portable pump to clear flood water other factors come into play. It needs to have a filter to prevent it being blocked by debris; in addition, you need to take into account the length of hose so that you can safely discharge water away from the property and the length of the power cable to ensure you can safely run the pump from a dry electrical supply. Ensure the supply is protected by an ECB for safety.

To avoid confusion when purchasing a submersible pump for a flooding event, we advise that you purchase a purpose built flood kit. Grundfos Unilift B-CC7 Multi-Box Submersible Drainage Set for example is the ideal pump for a flooding event as you get the a suitable pump type, a multi-functional filter box, a 15 m discharge hose and an additional CC connector that fits several sizes of hoses.

It is important to note that flooding is severe and affects house electricity. In the event that power is cut during a flood, you will need to ensure you have a petrol driven generator to hand. With this in mind, particularly in badly flooded areas, there is no where to pump the water too and it will just come back into the property as drains are usually blocked. Consider carefully how you pump the water and where you pump it too.

How to Clean Up Flood water

Water in your home can range from minor inconvenience to complete disaster. Where you land on this spectrum will depend entirely on how much water gets into your home and how long it remains in your home. If time is on your side, the best case scenario is a few damaged possessions, and the worst you’re looking at structural damage. Remember, the longer you leave water in your home the more chance you create the perfect breeding ground for mold. It’s important to remove mold quickly as it can lead to respiratory problems including asthma and potentially severe illness.

If water does enter your home here is your checklist to minimise damage and remove water quickly and safely.

1. Disconnect the Power

Electricity and water do not mix. Do stand in water or attempt to clear water with the power connected. After the power is connected then remove electrical items. Salvage electrical equipment first. You may still be able to dry and save water damaged electrical items if you remove them from water as soon as possible. Follow these tips for drying out technological items by Intel here.

2. Removing the Water

If you’ve followed the above advice you should have disconnected your electricity and removed easy to move items. The next step is getting the water out of your home. The manual method using a bucket is effective but also energy sapping and time consuming. As mentioned earlier in this article, it is critical that you remove water as soon as possible to prevent extensive damage.

The quickest way to remove flood water from your home is to invest in a submersible pump. The pumps quickly intake water and eject it using an impeller system. If you purchase a dedicated flood kit you will also be prepared to remove flooding in the quickest time frame. These pumps also come with an electric and manual option.

Getting Rid of Contaminated Items

If you have contaminated furniture or other items polluted by chemicals or sewage during a flood you can contact the environmental health department to have them removed. Contact them here.

3. Dry, Dry, Dry

Just because the water is finally out of your home doesn’t mean its job done. First, open all your windows and allow air to circulate your home. Mop dry as much of the left over water as possible and then use hand towels to hand dry floors and walls. You may have to cut way drywall that was affected by water as it will eventually crumble and you will also want to remove wall paper as it can become the perfect growth area for mold.

4. Disinfect

Flood waters can easily mix with sewage waters from drainage systems or toilets. This unfortunately means that all sorts of nasty bacteria could be lurking in your home. Disinfect all areas affected by flood waters. This will include walls, floors, furniture and any items that sat in flood water.

5. Consider Mold Growth

Your home is finally dry and you may have already moved back in, but you’re not quite finished yet. It’s important to stay vigilant of mold. There are some supermarket products that purposely stop mold and may be worth the investment.

Essential Contact in a Flood

In the event of a flood it’s important that you have all the correct contact information. You may have limited access to the internet during a flood and it’s essential you have access to the correct services at hand. Print out this list and stick it to the back of a cupboard in a safe to access area. As usual, in the event that you or someone you know is in life threatening danger dial 999.

Flood Warnings

If you are likely to experience flooding then it helps to be warned if flooding is imminent. You can register for flood warnings online here.

Floodline

If you’d like to speak to an adviser then you can contact floodline on 0345 988 1188. The service is available 24 hour.

Report a Flooding

In the event of flood via the river or sea you can report the incident via the environment agency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. The service is available 24 hour.

Accommodation

If you need temporary accommodation you can contact your local council here.

Electrical or Gas Problem

In the event that you face an electrical hazard you can contact your local electricity company by calling 105

In the event of a gas leak you can contact the National Grid on 0800 111 999

Environmental Hazard

If you need to remove contaminated items from your home you can contact the environmental health department here.


Help is at Hand to Choose the Right Pump

bathroom towels
Updating your kitchen and bathroom or renovating a whole house can be an exciting time, but there’s lots to think about before you get to the bit we all love – choosing your beautiful fittings, fancy tiles and fluffy towels.

Making sure you’ve got decent water pressure may not be the glamorous end of home improvement but it’s vital if you want to avoid any shocking shower scenarios or bathroom bloopers.

How annoying would it be to go through all the hassle and spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds, if at the end of it all you’re still putting up with a trickle of water from the shower, or waiting half an hour for your gorgeous new bath to fill with water?

Water pressure problems are a pain in the pipes, but there are lots of simple ways to solve them, from checking for damaged pipes and making sure valves are fully open, to cleaning any mineral deposits from taps and shower heads.

If the simple things don’t work and you need more advice, try websites such as www.waterpressureproblems.com, which can help you diagnose the problem and decide on the right solution.

You may well find that installing a pump is the answer to your water woes.

We know a thing or two about water pumps and we’re good listeners, so when our customers told us that we had such a wide range of clever shower, bathroom and whole house pumps it was hard to choose the right model, we got to work overhauling it to make easier for them.

The upshot is that we’ve re-engineered our popular centrifugal range and launched it under the new Right Pump label.

If you’re a person who likes all the technical info, that means we’ve reduced noise; used crossover technology to allow the former RSP ‘shower only’ pumps to power the whole house; and included a ‘spiders’ web’ design to strengthen the plastic end caps for extra strength, rigidity and reliability.

We’ve also improved the electronic system protection which guards the pump against the three most common faults which cause damage to pumps – dry running, excessive heat and leaks in the system.

So not only are you getting more pump for your money, you’re getting the confidence that your pump will be quiet, smart, strong and reliable.

Good water pressure is essential to domestic life, so before you start dreaming of beautiful bathrooms or steamy hot showers, give a thought to the unsung hero that is the water pressure level in your home, and browse the Right Pump range at Salamander Pumps now.

The Complete Guide to Buying a Shower Pump

There are few things in life as important as having a good quality bathroom installed in your home. It’s, no doubt, the first place you will see in the morning after brushing the sleep out of your eyes, and a positive day will always start with a long, refreshing shower.

That’s why choosing the right shower pump is vital. Nothing will start your day on the wrong foot more than a shower that just doesn’t have enough power behind it and let’s face it – a trickle of water just doesn’t feel as if it’s getting the job done.

So how do you know what type of shower pump to purchase? Well, while the technical details may be a tad confusing, it really is quite simple. To help you make the right choice, we’ll cover the whole spectrum of shower pumps including: what exactly is a shower pump for, what is the difference between a negative head shower pump and a positive head shower pump, and we will even name drop some of favourite shower pump brands.

What is a Shower Pump for?

Ok, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a shower pump for? Well, after forking out thousands of pounds on a new bathroom, nothing screams failure more than a dribbling stream coming from your shower head instead of the rejuvenating fountain you were hoping for.

Simply put, a shower pump increases the thrust in your shower system, pumping more water through your pipes and increasing the pressure you experience at the shower head.

If that explanation still doesn’t cut it, watch the video below that shows you the difference between a shower head with no pump, 1.5 bars worth of pressure and 3.0 bars of pressure.

Do I Need a Shower Pump?

Monday mornings need to start with an invigorating and rejuvenating shower, but with most homes across the UK slowly moving from a bathing habit to a shower habit over the last 20 years, it’s only recently that we’re realising that our homes have simply not been built to provide the powerful showers we demand each morning.

Here’s a pro tip to help you decide if you need a shower pump or not:

– Calculate your flow rate by measuring the volume of water you get from a tap in one minute. Depending on the shower model, you will require a flow rate over 600-800ml per minute or 1 litre in 1 minute and 40 seconds.

The Different Types of Shower Pumps

For most amateur bathroom fitters, this is where stuff starts to get a little too complicated. Do I need a positive or negative head? Would I be better off with a single or twin impeller pump? And why does gravity matter so much when it comes to a shower? The first step to knowing what type of shower pump you need, is that you need to know the difference between the various types of pumps available. Here we give a brief description on each pump type below:

Positive Head Shower Pump

The best way to remember the key differences between a positive and negative shower pump is to think push or pull. A positive shower pump pushes the feed of water into your shower. It does this by relying on gravity to feed the water from your water tank into the pump and then kick-starting the impellers which then pump the water to the shower. This means that your water tank needs to be at least 3 feet and 3 inches (990mm) above the shower head. This simply allows enough room for the water to pick up speed and kick the pump into action.

Negative or Universal Head Shower Pump

A Universal Shower pump pressurises everything in the pipe from the pump to the mixer valve ensuring the pump starts each time. This type of pump is the best choice for when your shower head is at the same level or higher than the cold water storage tank. These pumps are often used in loft conversions, some residential flats and home renovations. You may need this pump installed if your flow rate is less than 600ml per minute.

This short video by Salamander Pumps shows the animated differences between a positive and negative shower pump installation.

Single Impeller Shower Pump

A little on the old school side, a single impeller shower pump can only pump one type of water. Most installations of a single impeller pump opt to pump hot water, but it’s not uncommon to use a single impeller to pump cold water either. These types of pumps will usually come at the recommendation of a plumber and will often be used when you’re only having pressure issues with one type of water supply.

Twin Impeller Shower Pump

These are the more common types of pumps found in homes today. You may be surprised to learn that yes, in fact, they can pump both hot and cold at an equal flow. They work by taking both hot and cold water at similar pressures and then boosting the pressure equally between the two types.

Centrifugal Pump or Regenerative Pump

For most homeowners the difference between a centrifugal or regenerative pump will be insignificant. Their differences are purely technical, but there are some differences you should be aware of.

Mechanically speaking, a centrifugal pump takes in water from the centre of the impeller. The water in then catapulted out by the impeller at a greater pressure than when it first entered the pump. Adversely, a regenerative pump takes in water from the side and is pushed around by the impeller before exiting the pump.

The key differences between these two pump types are noise and price. Depending on where you plan to install the pump will be quite a factor when purchasing a centrifugal or regenerative pump. A regenerative pump for example will be a fair bit cheaper than a centrifugal pump. The downside of a regenerative pump is that they are quite noisy. Depending on your budget and whether or not you mind waking the wife every morning (think carefully) will factor into your pump choice.

Which Shower Pump Type Should You Go For?


Use the below as a checklist, and then read the brief descriptions for further information. Shower pumps can be complicated tools and each home will create an exception to the rule. Always check the advice of a qualified plumber before installing a shower pump.

Step 1 – Check your boiler type
Step 2 – Shower Type
Step 3 – Positive, Negative or Universal
Step 4 – Pipesize
Step 5 – Power
Step 6 – Location

Step 1 – Check Your Boiler Type

The first thing you need to check is what kind of boiler you have in your home. Your choice of shower pump will depend on whether you have a conventional system or a combi-boiler system. If you have a combi-boiler you will not be able to fit a shower pump. Combi-boilers are sealed and a shower pump would cause a change in pressure that could potentially cause the boiler to implode. If you are suffering pressure problems with a combi-boiler you may need to replace your combi-boiler system or contact your boiler provider.

Step 2 – Shower Type

The second thing you will need to check is the type of shower you have installed. In the UK there are three main types of shower. The manual mixer shower, the thermostatic mixer shower and the electric shower.

Manual Mixer Shower

The manual mixer shower does exactly what it says on the tin. You manually adjust the levels of hot and cold water to your required pressure and temperature. In most cases you will need a twin impeller system to boost pressure of both hot and cold water supply.

Thermostatic Mixer Shower

Similar to a manual mixer shower, a thermostatic mixer shower is fed by both a hot and cold water supply. The thermostatic valve monitors the water and keeps the water at your desired temperature. In most cases you will need a twin impeller system to boost pressure of both hot and cold water supply.

Electric Shower

Electric showers are a tad different to mixer showers as they only take water from the cold supply. With a heating unit built within the electric shower they can heat the cold water to your desired temperature. As they are completely disconnected from the hot water supply you will likely need a single impeller pump. The common model chosen by plumbers it the universal showermate – model 46534.

If purchasing a shower pump for an electric or power shower we advise that you contact your shower provider or manufacturer for further information. Each shower is built to a different specification and may need a universal pump even if they follow each of rules in this article.

Step 3 – Positive, Negative or Universal

Next you need to decide whether you require a positive or negative head shower pump. Using the above descriptions you need to find out the vertical distance between your water tank and your shower head. If the distance between the base of your water tank (cistern tank) and your shower head is 990mm or more, you need a positive head pump. However, if your shower head is situated at or above the level of your cistern tank, then a negative head shower pump is what you need.

Step 4 – Pipesize

You also need to take into account the size of the pipes that you plan to attach to your pump. Standard pipesize in the UK is 22mm, but it’s possible for older houses to have a 15mm pipesize. Double check your pipesize as only a small selection of pumps cater for 15mm pipes. A 15mm pipe should not be connected to a pump designed for 22mm pipes.

If you are reading this article in the Republic of Ireland, things can get a little more complicated as your standard pipesize is 21mm, but you can also have the 15mm and 22mm options installed in your home.  

Step 5 – Power

Just bear in mind that if you have more than one shower in your home in need of a boost, then you’ll want to select a more powerful model. The general rule is that a 2 bar pump is suitable for a one or two person household and a 3 or 4 bar pump is suitable for a family.

Step 6 – Location

Consider the location of your shower pump carefully. Airing cupboard are a good choice as they are out of the way, but consider the echo noise that can be generated in these cupboards. Lofts are also suitable locations, but the noise from creaky floorboards can also become a nuisance. 

Choosing from the Various Pump Brands

That covers the basics, and now comes the next part: choosing from the various brands. The amount of choice can seem a little daunting, but in our opinion there are three shower pump models that stand out from the competition for their combination of high performance and low noise levels.

Stuart Turner

Stuart Turner is a major name in shower pumps industry. They are largest brand in the shower pumping market and make pumps that cover the cheap and cheerful right through to what we call “brass class”. Known for quality design made with quality parts, the company has a fantastic reputation and their Monsoon range is one of the UK’s best sellers. Made from high-quality brass, there are various models to choose from, including single-head or twin-head options, and they are all low-voltage and therefore cost-effective.

Salamander

Salamander are a technological giant of the pumping world. Investing heavily into a variety of pump tech, Salamander were recently awarded the title of the quietest pump on the market by Salford University. Their product ranges cover both the more expensive and value options on the pumping marketing and are all made to highest standards of quality.

The Salamander CT Force range offers high quality regenerative pumps, value for money, brass construction, low maintenance, reliability, efficiency and quietness. They are also easy to install and will last you for a good number of years.

Grundfos

As the largest heating pump company in the UK, it was only a matter of time till Grundfos branched out into the shower pump market. So far they have seen huge success as they transfer innovative pump technology from other sectors into the shower sector.
Specifically, Grundfos pumps offer carefully designed, well-constructed and thoroughly reliable pumps which are easy to install and fitted with high-density long-life carbon-graphite seals, integral controls and anti-vibration feet.

Why do Shower Pumps Differ So Much in Price?

Getting a decent shower in the morning shouldn’t cost too much. That said, in the pump world at least, you always get what you pay for. The general rule is the more expensive you go, the more power you get. The more power you buy, the stronger the water flow you can expect from your shower head.

You also need to consider the materials that the pump you are purchasing is made from. The more expensive you go, the more quality you get. Cheaper pumps are made from plastic and the parts will generally suffer from wear and tear more. More expensive pumps will use brass materials. Brass will last longer and will also make less sound.

You will also, with Anchor Pumps, receive a 5 year warranty for a brass pump, while you will only receive a 1 or 2 year warranty for a plastic pump.

As the cost of pumps varies depending on make and model, it can be a tricky process deciding which one to fit into your system. Can you get the same quality and flow from a £110 pump as a £350 pump? To help you decide, we’ve listed our three favourite pumps for each pricing category.

Postive Head Shower Pumps Under £150

Salamander CT75 Xtra 2.0 Bar (15mm)

When considering which shower pump to buy, along with the price there are two main factors which people tend to look for — ease of installation and versatility. The Salamander CT75 meets both of these criteria. Not only is it relatively straightforward to install, but it is suitable for use in a number of different shower types, including conventional models, multi-function showers and those with Victorian can-style shower heads.

Search Prices on the Salamander CT75 Xtra 2.0 Bar here

Stuart Turner ShowerMate Eco S2.0 Twin (15mm)

Looking for the best quality shower pump on the market but at a bargain price? Then look no further than the Stuart Turner ShowerMate Eco range. Suitable for use in open-vented hot and cold water systems, the twin pump boosts the supply of both hot and cold water in equal measure. The Eco pump works equally well in both single-function and multi-function showers, in addition to bath or basin mixer taps. The ShowerMate Eco pumps from Stuart Turner also comes with a two-year warranty making it the perfect budget choice.

Search Prices on the Stuart Turner ShowerMate Eco S2.0 here

Negative Head Shower Pumps Under £150

Grundfos Niagara STC-1.5 CN

Do you go for quality, or do go for price? Well, with the Grundfos Niagra range, you can easily have both. A robust unit that is built to endure the hard years ahead, the Niagra range is fitted with the finest long life seals, along with high quality braided connection hoses. As a universal pump this tech will automatically sync to both positive and negative head solutions.

Search Prices on the Grundfos Niagara STC-1.5 CN here

Salamander CT Force 20SU 2.0

If you’re looking for ease of installation at a bargain price, then look no further than Salamander’s finest, budget negative head shower pump. Built using Salamander’s unique technology (NVR), the CT Force has won several awards for its superb sound cancelling abilities. Another great pump with a great price to match.

Search Prices on Salamander CT Force 20SU 2.0 here

Positive Head Shower Pumps Under £300

Grundfos Amazon SSP-3.0B (22mm)

Designed to the highest standard of performance and durability, the Grundfos Amazon SSP-3.0B is the premium option in the low cost category. These pumps are low noise, low vibration due to anti-vibration feet and the long life silicon carbide seals which are fitted as standard absorb any movement. This pump comes with a mega 5 year warranty making it both a safe and budget shower pump choice.

Search Prices on Grundfos Amazon SSP-3.0B here

Salamander CT Force 20PT 2.0 Bar

This is one of the more expensive Salamander pumps on the market, and with the latest in patented noise vibration reduction technology – it definitely counts as money well spent. Pumping out a huge 2 bars of pressure, the twin pump boasts quality design, maximum power and reduced noise at a super low price. A must consider “middle of the road” option.

Search Prices on Salamander CT Force 20PT 2.0 Bar here

Negative Head Shower Pumps Under £300

Stuart Turner Monsoon S2.0 Bar

Designed for installation into vented systems to pump both hot and cold water supplies, the Stuart Turner Monsoon range is one of the most popular shower pump solutions on the market. Designed to the highest standard of both performance and durability, the Stuart Turner Monsoon pumps are brass bodied pumps with anti-vibration feet. They also feature an automatic pressure and float switch making it a tech packed piece of kit for your bathroom.

Search Prices on Stuart Turner Monsoon S2.0 Bar here

Grundfos STR2-2.0 CN Twin Impeller

New to the market, the STR2 range by Grundfos is one of the ultimate universal (negative head capabilities) pumps on the market. This regenerative style pump has been specifically designed to minimise turbulence within the pump head, giving performance with low noise.This smooth and reliable negative head shower pump is one of the best on the market and it comes at an affordable price.

Search Prices on Grundfos STR2 – 2.0 CN Twin Impeller here

Positive Head Shower Pumps £300 or above

Stuart Turner Monsoon S4.5 Bar

Moving on up the pricing categories we’re featuring another of Stuart Turner’s Monsoon pumps. Packed with all the latest pumping technology you can be assured of getting the rejuvenating and invigorating morning shower you dream of with this technology. Pumping out 4.5 bar worth of pressure, again this pump is brass bodied and fitted with anti-vibration feet. The premium option for the person who wants maximum pumping output in their home.

Search Prices on the Stuart Turner Monsoon S4.5 Bar here

Salamander CT Force 30TU 3.0

Salamander are far from renowned for expensive pumps, in fact usually you will find that Salamander are the cheapest option on the market. Surprisingly though, we’ve found the Salamander CT Force 30TU 3.0 to be one of the best available pumps on the market. The 3 bar worth of pressure tends to feel way more powerful and with the unique NVR technology you are again purchasing the latest tech with ultimate power.

Search Prices on Salamander CT Force 30TU 3.0 here

Negative Head Shower Pumps £300 or above

Salamander ESP75CPV 2.0 Bar

Designed for the family of four in serious need of a boost, this negative head pump is one of most powerful on the market. Built on a centrifugal system, the Salamander ESP76CPV pushes out 2 bars of pressure and can work on both positive and negative head solutions.

Search Prices on Salamander ESP75CPV 2.0 Bar here

Stuart Turner TechFlo QT U3.3

Nicknamed the ‘whisper quiet’, you know what to expect with this piece of tech – pure silence. Built using Stuart Turner’s latest TechFlo technology, this centrifugal pump is being slowly phased out by the current Monsoon range, but is still one of the best pumps on the market.   

Search Prices on Stuart Turner TechFlo QT U3.3 here

The Quietest Shower Pumps on the Market

While it can be fantastic waking up to a pleasant and invigorating shower powered by a quality shower pump, it can create a whole new world of issues with noise, especially if the wife is still catching a few hours on a Sunday lie in.

If you are worried about purchasing a noisy shower pump, we’ve listed the three quietest pumps on the market and also listed some further noise reduction tips below.

Stuart Turner Monsoon

Featuring a brass body, designed to minimise voltage and fitted with anti-vibration feet, the Stuart turner Monsoon range is the premium market pump option for those looking for a remarkably quiet pump. A great option that will allow the family to sleep while you shower.

Salamander RP range

Salamander as a brand has a great reputation for producing quiet pumps. They’ve achieved this reputation by investing heavily into the now patented noise vibration reduction technology (NVR). This technology involves using innovative new materials to build their pumps and also fitting all their pumps with noise reducing feet. The RP range is the premium Salamander product available on the market as it matches pure power with less noise.

Grundfos Amazon

Grundfos pumps are known and trusted across the world for their performance and reliability. Often the go-to choice for contractors and plumbers, the Amazon range by Grundfos uses both low noise motors and anti-vibration feet to deliver minimal noise output. You can’t go wrong with the Grundfos Amazon range as they make a quiet pump both powerful and affordable.

Tips to reduce Noise Vibrations from Your Shower Pump

Check Surrounding Pipes

While each shower pump will be tested to ensure noise reduction, it’s always a good idea to do your own pipe inspection to ensure all surrounding pipes are well supported and completely secure. Loose pipes tend to exacerbate vibrations and can make the noise experienced when working your shower pump to become unbearable.

Buy a Noise-Reducing Pad

It’s a simple and obvious tip but one that is often overlooked by plumbers and contractors. Particularly useful if your pump will be resting on wooden flooring, a noise-reducing pad can be used to soak up all the vibrations created by a shower pump. A cheap and effective investment.

Upgrade Your Pump

Most shower pumps will come with a long term guarantee, especially if you’re purchasing a Stuart Turner, Grundfos or Salamander shower pump. It’s worth checking what your warranty covers, if the noise is gradually getting worse or is starting to make a high pitched whine, your warranty provider may replace your pump for free.

Change Pump Location

The popular place to install a shower pump is within an airing cupboard. This can be a great place both well out of sight and out of harm’s way. The problem with an airing cupboard is that they tend to be acoustic and can amplify the smallest of noises from vibrations. Consider having your shower pump relocated to an inaudible location.

Final Tips before Buying a Shower Pump

  1. If you’re bypassing a plumber it’s worth checking the nature of your domestic water system. You should know that under British regulations you cannot connect a shower pump to the main water supply. A shower pump must be connected to a system that is gravity fed. This is where the water is fed to the pump via a header tank or cistern. These are often located in the attic of a house.

    If are faced with this issue you can opt to install a break tank that would put a pressureless tank between your mains supply and the shower pump. Alternatively the flomate range by Stuart Turner can bypass this problem as the system combines both a pump and breaktank in one piece of technology.
  1. You cannot connect a shower pump to a combi boiler. A combi boiler is fed directly from the mains water supply and not a water tank. Combi-boilers are already working at their maximum output, so if you’re still having issues then you may need to buy a new combi boiler or contact your boiler provider.
  2. There’s a general rule in pump buying that a 2 bar pump is suitable for a one or two person household and a 3 or 4 bar pump is suitable for a family. Make sure you check the power and performance of the pump you’re purchasing is suitable for your situation and circumstances. Nothing is worse than hopping in the shower last and finding only a dribble of power remains.
  1. It’s super important to check the capacity of your home’s water system. If you have a small hot water tank, then you definitely want to avoid a high performance shower pump. A 3 bar or 4 bar pump will feel fantastic but your shower will literally last 2 minutes.
  1. Check the size of the pipework in your home’s water system. The pump comes with piping connections of 15mm and 22mm diameter. The larger diameter can deliver twice the volume of water than the smaller diameter. But the pump’s connection must fit with the rest of the house’s plumbing Never connect a 22mm pump to plumbing with a diameter of 15mm.
  1. As mentioned earlier in this article, pump location can make a huge difference when it comes to pump satisfaction. Choose a quiet and level location for the pump, as even the most expensive pumps will vibrate and make a noise when operating. Consider purchasing a polystyrene pad or a specially designing noise reduction mat to dampen out any noise.

Disclaimer: Anchor Pumps acknowledges that the information included in this blog is based on their interpretation of the data presented. Shower pumps can be complicated tools and each home will create an exception to the rule. Always check the advice of a qualified plumber before installing a shower pump.