Troubleshooting Negative Head Shower Pumps

Shower pumps are generally reliable pieces of equipment, and problems rarely occur. When they do, it’s important to be able to diagnose them correctly in order to determine whether a new pump is needed or if the fault lies elsewhere.

Whether you’re using Stuart Turner shower pumps or another brand, the basics of troubleshooting are the same. Problems are generally due to either the pipework connections, the electrical supply or the pump itself. We’ll take a look at some of the most common issues and how to fix them.

Types of Pump

There are two main types of domestic shower pumps, and it’s important to understand the difference, as using the wrong type can lead to problems. A negative head pump is used where the shower head is level with or above the cold water storage tank – in other words, gravity alone can’t provide a sufficient flow for the shower. If the shower head is below the tank but water pressure is still low, then you need a positive head pump.

There are also universal pumps available that will work with either a positive or negative head type of system. If you have a combi boiler and no cold water header tank, then you need a pump that will boost mains pressure throughout the entire water system of the house, not just a shower pump.

Problems with Negative Head Pumps

Negative head shower pumps can sometimes suffer from the flow rate being too great at the shower head. You can solve this simply by fitting a larger head to cut the pressure and allow an even flow of water. Alternatively, you can try closing down the isolator valves for both hot and cold water on the output side of the pump slightly. Don’t close them by more than a third, and leave the valves on the input side fully open. You may have to use a bit of trial and error to find the right flow.

Electrical Problems

Often problems aren’t with the pump itself but with the electrical supply feeding it. If your pump isn’t operating at all, the first thing to do is check that the power supply is on. There will usually be a fused spur feeding the pump: if the power is on, locate the spur and check that the fuse hasn’t blown. If there’s a circuit breaker, similarly check that it hasn’t tripped. Should your pump continue to blow fuses after they’ve been replaced, then that indicates a fault with the pump itself – possibly a seized motor.

Some pumps have run-dry protection, which causes them to cut out to prevent damage if the water supply is interrupted. This can look similar to an electrical problem at first glance. If the run-dry cut-out has operated, you can reset it by turning the power off for ten seconds and then turning it on again. Open the shower tap to get any air out of the system.

Pump Noise

Noise from shower pumps is a common complaint. Check that the pump has been properly installed. Most are supplied with anti-vibration feet, so check that these have been properly fitted. Noise can be transmitted through pipework, so make sure all pipes to and from the pump are properly supported. Also check that any flexible hoses have minimal bends. If the pump makes a humming noise, this may indicate that it’s stuck. This could be due to an electrical problem or, in hard water areas, the pump being blocked by limescale.

Leaks

Leaking from around the pump may be caused by a joint that hasn’t been sufficiently tightened or by badly fitted or worn washers. Pumps are usually fitted with isolation valves at either side, so it’s an easy matter to disconnect and re-seat the joints without turning off the whole water supply. If the leak is coming from the pump itself, then it may need to be serviced or replaced.

How to Get Your Central Heating Ready for Winter!

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Taking care of your central heating system before winter begins is essential. From ensuring that it is not emitting potentially deadly carbon monoxide to obtaining the maximum value from what you spend on energy, getting your system ready for the frosty months should be on the annual “to-do” list. When this is done, homeowners should be able to relax, knowing their heating system is primed to work at maximum capacity over the winter to come.

The Pump Is the Heart

Checking central heating pumps are working correctly is vital, as the system’s pump is like the mechanical heart of your central heating. The pump should not be connected to the electricity supply when it is being inspected or adjusted. Make sure it is disconnected before work begins. Without a capable pump, hot water will not circulate properly. As the pump uses around 15 per cent of the system’s energy, regular maintenance will ensure it is operating well. If not, a new pump can increase the efficiency and performance of your central heating.

Central Heating Winter Must-Dos

Central heating winter preparation includes checking your boiler thoroughly. Your boiler may appear to be in good working order, but it is always a sensible idea to get it inspected by an appropriate qualified engineer at least once a year. The engineer will examine the boiler and clean it where necessary. Doing this on a regular basis could save you cash by avoiding major problems.

Getting this done before winter really sets in is a worthwhile precaution, not only ensuring the boiler is ready for the cold season but also that it is in the best possible condition for the time of year when it will be working its hardest.

Heed Warning Signs

Odd noises, sooty marks or leaking are indications that something may be wrong with the system. Regular checking of your boiler will ensure you are aware of these signs that indicate the system requires maintenance. The more rapidly a problem is found and attended to, the better it is for the system and for you.

Get to Know Your Boiler

It could be useful to read the blog post titled “Boilers and Central Heating Explained”. In this entry the basic types of central heating systems are explained. It is easier to make decisions about maintenance requirements when you know what you are dealing with. For example, it is good to know if your system is open or closed.

Dangers of Not Paying Attention

A boiler that is not operating properly can be producing carbon monoxide gas, which can kill. Part of preparing for winter could include installing a device that triggers an alarm if carbon monoxide is detected. If you have one of these, make sure it is serviced before winter begins. Ideally, it should be examined around once each month to make sure it is working correctly.

Upgrading to a New Model

Eventually a boiler will simply wear out. Then it will need to be replaced, and it is much better to do this before the cold season begins. The new boiler you choose could have a significant impact on your bills and energy consumption.

It is worth looking at the latest models to see which ones are the greenest and most efficient. Other things to consider include a back-up plan. A new boiler can be installed with an electric immersion heater to fall back on should there be a problem with the main boiler, and the family will appreciate this in the middle of winter when otherwise there would be no hot water. This can also be a good option for a larger home with a number of bathrooms when there is heavy demand for hot water.

Breathing Space

To work efficiently, a boiler also requires plenty of ventilation. If the boiler is located in some kind of cupboard that is also crammed with clothing and sports gear, the boiler could benefit from a bit more space. Clear out some of this stuff before winter begins to give the boiler every chance of adequately serving the heating system by allowing the air around the boiler room to circulate. A cramped environment can reduce the lifespan of a boiler and decrease the efficiency of a heating system.

For a warm and trouble-free winter, make sure your central heating is in the best possible condition. To ensure this, call in professionals to check the system and carry out any necessary maintenance.

What to Consider Before Installing a Second Bathroom

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If your entire family can be found queuing up outside the bathroom every morning, it may be time to think a second bathroom. This will not only ease the pressure on everyone’s bladders, but is likely to add value to your home.

There are, of course, a number of considerations, not least of which is space. However, modern bathroom fittings and plumbing solutions allow for the creation of additional facilities within surprising confines.

Do You Have the Space?

Given that the first and most important thing to consider when thinking about a second bathroom is whether your house can accommodate it, you will need to undertake a little research. The good news is that a modern bathroom can be really quite compact, particularly if you are willing to be a little creative.

If you want more than a toilet and a washbasin, of course, your space will need to be larger. A bath requires considerably more floor area than a shower so much depends on your requirements. If you look at the floor plan of your home, you may very well find some ‘dead space’ with which to play, perhaps under the stairs or in the form of a built-in wardrobe.

You may have loft space or even have a basement to convert. It could be that your existing bathroom is huge with the potential to make better use of empty space. Or perhaps your master bedroom is so large that it would sustain the loss of a few feet in order to create an en-suite.

Is Plumbing Really the Priority?

It goes without saying that a toilet, bath and shower need to be plumbed in correctly, in accordance with the applicable building regulations. It is therefore important to take expert advice in locating and designing your new bathroom.

Working closely with professionals from the outset will ensure that you minimise any additional cost associated with extending or re-routing pipework.

All plumbing and any electrical work should be undertaken by qualified professionals who know what they’re doing. Don’t even think about doing such a major job on your own: it’s not a DIY project unless you’re in the trade.

The location of existing hot and cold water pipes, together with that of any waste pipes and soil stacks (vertical pipework which is often hidden in modern homes and which takes waste from the WC to the external sewerage system) are important considerations.

If your house is currently on a septic tank system, you will need to determine whether it will be able to cope with any extra waste.

With modern solutions, including macerator pumps and their associated small bore waste pipes, there is far greater flexibility than at any time in the past.

What Can You Include?

Once you understand any plumbing and spatial constraints, you can determine what is to be included in your new bathroom. Another bath, shower or just a toilet and washbasin? If the floor area will allow for it, you may wish to include all of these facilities. Smaller spaces may preclude a bath, but showers are now available in just about every possible shape and size, some with very small footprints indeed.

How Do You Ventilate?

Another vital consideration is ventilation within your new bathroom. This is particularly important if you are planning on installing a bath or shower. This will require ventilation in order to prevent any build-up of moisture. There are regulatory requirements with regard to the ventilation of bathrooms (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/456656/domestic_ventilation_compliance_guide_2010.pdf).

Your second bathroom may have an exterior wall and perhaps a window which offers some practical ventilation. However, you will also need to install appropriate ventilation in the form of an extractor fan. These come in a variety of forms suited to installation in a window, wall or the ceiling.

How Do You Create a Balance?

If your objectives extend beyond pure utility and include adding value to your home, achieving an appropriate balance is essential. There’s little point in having three bathrooms if you have made dramatic sacrifices in living or bedroom space in order to achieve this.

In the end, it all comes down to what you and your family need from your home. Always remember to do your research first to ensure you’re not about to attempt the impossible. But you will be pleasantly surprised at just how much can be achieved.

How to Diagnose & Fix Low Water Pressure

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Low water pressure can have an adverse effect on a wide range of domestic activities, from having a shower to watering the garden or pressure-washing the car. If low water pressure is a problem in your house, don’t despair. Boosting water pressure can be achieved and we have the products to do it.

What’s Causing the Low Pressure?

Firstly, you need to identify what is causing the low pressure. Some people find that the pressure is low throughout the year, but in some locations it varies from season to season, depending on the local water demand.

There is sometimes a tank in the loft which feeds water to the house, and this can take a long time to fill up. This means that the water pressure from your mains supply is low, and it isn’t strong enough to push the water through the system up to the tank at a decent flow rate.

Could Clogged Pipes, Leaks or Designer Taps be the Culprit?

The behaviour of the water that comes from for example, your shower, is determined by the combination of two factors: the water pressure and the water volume. Either or both of these factors may be the culprit.

You need to check that the stopcocks on the water pipes both within and outside the house are fully open. It may also be that some of your pipes are clogged up. If you have had any pipework renewed, check to see whether you are getting better water pressure from the taps connected to these pipes.

If you are, some of your older pipes may be clogged. You may need to ask a plumber to take some action, such as flushing the system with special chemicals to remove deposits.

It’s also wise to check for a leak, especially if you have a large property or one where the mains water supply crosses the garden. You may not be aware of a leak unless you have a water meter installed. Again, a plumber can check the pressure at various points to determine whether there may be a leak.

Some modern taps have lower flow rates and are specifically designed for use with high-pressure systems. If you have recently installed new taps and now find that the flow is not as good as it was, this could well be the reason.

If you have a mains pressure-fed hot water system, you may find that there is a pressure regulator just after your mains stopcock. It could be worth having this professionally checked to ensure that it is functioning correctly.

How Can You Boost Water Pressure?

In many cases, the issue is simply that the mains water pressure is low. The good news is that this can be addressed through the use of a special pressure boosting pump such as the Grundfos Home Booster, and the installation is not complicated or expensive.

The Home Booster is an electric pump which is specifically designed to increase water pressure. The Home Booster should be suitable for most homes, but if your home has several stories or is otherwise a very large property, you can team it up with a second unit. This also gives you some resilience because you can use the second pump as a back-up; useful if, for example, you have bed and breakfast guests.

What Models are Available?

The Home Booster is available as a 3 Bar or 4.5 Bar model. The 3 Bar pump can deliver up to 3.6 Bar pressure. It operates using a CM 3-4 I pump.

The 4.5 Bar version holds 200l of cold water and can deliver a pressure of 5.6 Bar with a flow rate of half a litre per second which means that you’ll certainly notice the difference.

These are reliable, robust pumps from a long-established brand. They have a handy control panel with indicators for the pump status and pressure, together with a reset button.

The system includes a pressure manager to ensure consistent performance, and if you want more water, you can add a 180-litre “slave tank” which is also available on this site. You can use this with both the 3 Bar and 4.5 Bar Home Boosters.

Will it Boost Your Enjoyment of Your House and Garden?

Better water pressure delivers a host of benefits. Baths fill more quickly, and showers are faster. You can wash your own car with clean water rather than using the expensive recycled water at the carwash. You don’t have to pay someone to jet-wash your patio. The list goes on.

UK Flooding Advice: Do you live in an at risk area?

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Every year we seem to see dozens of stories on the news about homes being flooded across the globe. And it seems to be becoming more and more frequent with climate change marching ever onwards.

Here in the UK, thousands of homes are flooded almost every year, with some people facing having their houses and businesses devastated by water from overflowing rivers and sewers or destructive coastal storms.

Why Does It Happen?

Flooding can occur almost anywhere, even away from water sources such as the sea, rivers or a watercourse.

When there are long periods of heavy rain, drainage systems often cannot cope. Saturated ground cannot absorb more water, so it will not drain away. Drains may become blocked, and the water has nowhere to go.

How Does It Affect People?

In addition to the obvious danger to life and limb, householders face having to replace their beloved possessions. Some are forced to move out of their homes for months on end, while business owners’ livelihoods are put at risk through having to close their shops and warehouses for weeks.

More and more people are being affected, while those most at risk are facing added hardship due to increases in the cost of household insurance. In some cases, they are unable to obtain any form of insurance.

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone, anywhere, can be at risk from flooding. However, there are certain areas which are more at risk than others.

If you are among the five million people in Wales and England who live or work on a floodplain, statistics show that your business or home is more likely to be flooded than it is to be involved in a fire.

In England and Wales, the most likely places to be affected by flooding include Boston and Skegness on the east coast, said to be the place with the greatest danger of flooding in the entire country; the Vale of Clwyd, an area of low-lying ground around the River Clwyd in north-east Wales; Windsor, because of its proximity to the River Thames; the areas of Folkestone and Hythe; and Runnymede and Weybridge, where around 6,500 homes are believed to be in danger of flooding.

Environment Agency

If you want to see whether your home or business is in danger, your first port of call should be the Environment Agency, the government body which has responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment.

On its website, you can see if there are any flood warnings in place in the immediate future, sign up for warnings for your area, and check if your property is in a flood risk area.

You can even check your home’s flooding history to see if it has ever been flooded before. This can give you a vital warning if flooding is possible and enable you to take steps to prevent it.

Can I Get Insurance?

One of the first pieces of advice to be given to people living in a flood risk area is to make sure that they have adequate insurance.

If you have a mortgage, you will be required to have buildings insurance, but contents insurance to cover the cost of replacing the contents of your house is just as important, particularly if you live in an area prone to flooding

Adequate insurance will cover you for the cost of repairing your property after a flood, in addition to replacing all of your fixtures and fittings. It will probably also pay for the repair or replacement of any furniture and belongings damaged by water, plus the cost of removing any debris left behind by the water.

What If I Can’t Get Insurance?

Some households and businesses which have been repeatedly flooded over the years may find it very expensive or even impossible to obtain adequate insurance.

Thankfully, the government has recently introduced help for people finding it difficult to get insurance because they live in high-risk areas. The new scheme helps insurance companies offer more affordable insurance to those whose homes and businesses are at high risk.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

There are steps that those of us with a high risk of flooding can take to prevent the worst from happening. Signing up to flood warning alerts, so that you are forewarned before flooding strikes, will help you to prepare if the worst is imminent. In addition, stockpiling sandbags and moving valuables from lower floors can all help to mitigate the effect of flooding if it does happen.

For those living in the worst-hit areas, there are other measures you can take. Submersible pumps are invaluable for use in emergencies; they can even be bought as part of emergency flood kits, which contain essential equipment and accessories to help you minimise the damage any flood does. They will help you to remove any excess water as soon as possible, ensuring that it has less potential to damage your property.

Whether you’re in a high-risk area or not, you should make flood prevention and planning as much a part of your routine as fire prevention and escape.