How To Increase Water Pressure In Your Shower (Expert Advice)
If you have low water pressure in the shower then you will know that it is not a good way to start your day. The struggle to wash properly, the water cooling down before it reaches your body, the shampoo that you can never seem to rinse from your hair. So frustrating.
How can I increase water pressure in my shower?
Fortunately, if you are suffering from low water pressure in the shower, there are a range of quick fixes that can improve the flow of water in your shower. These include:
- Cleaning out the sediment
- Replacing the shower head
- Installing a shower pump
- Installing a pressurised unvented cylinder
- Fitting an electric shower
Now, if you’re new to the plumbing world, this is where things can get a little complicated. No doubt you’re wondering:
“How do I install a shower pump? How do I clean out the sediment? And what even is a pressurised unvented cylinder?”
All questions that are likely to overwhelm someone new to the plumbing world. That’s why we’ve created this complete guide to increasing water pressure in your shower. Taking you step-by-step through the world of low water pressure, we answer every question we’ve ever been asked about increasing pressure in the shower, so you can find the answer to your queries.
This blog will answer the following questions:
- Do I have low water pressure in the shower?
- How to test low water pressure
- What causes low water pressure in the shower?
- How to increase water pressure in the shower
- What is the best way to increase water pressure in your home?
- Best shower pumps for increasing water pressure in the shower How much to fit a shower pump?
If you think you have low water pressure issues in the shower, and you’re considering the purchase of a shower pump or power shower to improve the pressure, there is a simple three step test that you can conduct to test your flow.
All you need to carry out this test is: a measuring jug, a timer and a calculator.
*Note* We also recommend getting a qualified plumber to assess the requirements needed for your home.
Step 1: Place a 1-litre measuring jug under shower
Step 2: Turn the problem tap or shower on full
Step 3: Time how long it takes to fill the jug
Step 4: If it takes more than 6 seconds to fill the jug, then you have low water pressure.
Low water pressure at the shower head can occur for a wide variety of reasons.
The most common reasons are:
Your mains water system may be using old piping.
If you live in or close to a city or town centre, then it’s likely that your low water pressure is caused by the mains water system. This is due to mains water systems in city and town centres using much older pipes. It is also harder for the local government to replace the piping due to the disruption it would cause in a city centre.
Your home water system may have undersized supply piping.
One of the most common reasons for low water pressure is undersized supply piping. This is common in older houses where the original plumbing system is still in place. This will restrict the amount of water coming into your home and to the shower. Again, it is quite disruptive to replace so it’s likely previous homeowners have not fixed the issue.
Your home water system may be clogged.
Again, if you live in an older house, then you may be using old, iron piping in your home water system. Iron is vulnerable to rusting which can break off and cause an obstruction within the pipe. This issue will often be made worse if dirt, gravel or sand enters your system through older entry piping.
You have a “flow restricting” or “water saving” shower head
One common reason that is often overlooked is the shower head. Modern showers often use “flow restricting” or “water saving” shower heads. Flow restricting shower heads were first introduced under The National Energy Act in the United States. Many manufacturers in the UK have followed the example set by the US and are now installing water restrictors in an attempt to help homeowners reduce water bills and stop people wasting water.
You have an obstructed shut off valve
Another common reason that you may be experiencing low water pressure is an obstructed shut off valve. If you’ve just bought a new home, or you’ve recently had building work done, then you should check that your shut off valve is fully open. The shut-off valve is usually located under the kitchen sink. If you believe the water valve to be broken, contact a plumber immediately.
If you’re serious about increasing the water pressure in your shower, then you probably need to face the fact that you’re going to have to spend a little money (not a lot, a little).
Well, if you have checked that the shut-off valve is fully open and you’re not using a “flow restricting” shower head, then it’s likely that the low water pressure is caused by low pressure in the mains supply.
Saying that, look at the list of solutions below. Start by trying the cheap and simple solutions first. If that doesn’t work, try the next solution.
Clean your shower head
Before you buy a shower pump or replace any piping, first try cleaning the dirt and sand out of the shower head. Fine sediments can enter the home water system via the mains supply and can often build up over time and reduce the water flow at the shower head.
If you can’t remove your shower head then you are going to need a rubber band and a sandwich bag. Fill the sandwich bag with vinegar and use the rubber band to attach the bag to the shower head. This should help remove the limescale and break down some of the sediment.
How much will it cost to clean a shower head?
Cost - £5 - £10 Installation - DIY
Replace the shower head
If your shower head has a special “water restrictor” in place, then you may be able to find and remove it by following the instruction manual. Saying that, it’s unlikely that you have the shower head manual lying around. You now have two choices. You can either:
- Hire a plumber to find and remove the water restrictor
- Purchase a special low-pressure shower head
The special low-pressure shower head is usually the cheaper option, especially if you shop around first.
It is worth remembering that:
- You still need to fit the shower head
- The new showerhead may not improve water pressure if the problem is due to the mains supply
How much will it cost to replace a shower head?
Cost - £30 - £50 Installation - DIY or contact a plumber
Install a shower pump
If you’re serious about fixing water pressure in the shower, then you need to purchase a high-quality shower pump. A shower pump is a small mechanical device that is fitted to your home water system.
They work like this:
- When you turn the water on in the shower the pump is activated
- As the water leaves the tank and travels to your shower, it first goes through the shower pump
- The shower pump then uses an impeller (like an aeroplane engine) to boost the pressure of the water before it reaches the shower.
Installing a shower pump is an easy and effective way to increase the water pressure in your shower. If you would like more information on shower pumps, read our complete guide to buying a shower pump here.
Note: It is illegal to add a shower pump directly to mains water pressure. The added pressure created by a shower pump can damage mains pipework. In most cases, you will need to insert a break tank.
How much will it cost to install a shower pump?
Cost - £150 - £500 Installation - DIY or contact a plumber
Installing a pressurised unvented cylinder
While installing a shower pump is a quick, effective fix, installing a pressurised unvented cylinder is a long-term fix that involves overhauling your current plumbing system. Specifically, this involves removing the cold water tank and replacing it with a pressurised cylinder that takes its feed directly from the mains.
This is a complex plumbing issue and therefore will need a highly qualified plumber to carry out the work. Often, this method will require replacing the entire plumbing system. This could be a good option if you have an older house and would like to update and modernise the water system.
How much will this cost?
Cost - £1500 >
Installation - Contact a plumber
Install an electric shower with a cold water accumulator tank
Another option is to fit an independent electric shower with a cold water accumulator tank. This option is usually installed when hot water is in short supply.
The shower is entirely fed with cold water from an accumulator tank. An accumulator tank is a separate tank to your main water tank that stores water just for the electric shower. When the cold water reaches the electric shower, the shower heats the water and then fires high-pressure water out of the shower head.
This installation overcomes issues like a drop in pressure when someone runs the tap in the kitchen.
How much will it cost to install an electric shower with a cold water accumulator tank?
Cost - £1000 > Installation - Contact a plumber
Install a power shower
Another option is to install a power shower. A power shower uses both hot and cold water to feed the shower. For this reason, you need to have plenty of hot water available in the hot water tank. They work in much the same way as a shower pump and actually have a pump installed inside the box on the wall that boosts the pressure of the water.
One of the issues with this option is the costly installation fee, so a shower pump may be a better, more cost-effective option.
How much will it cost to install a power shower?
Cost - £500 > Installation - Contact a plumber
If you have checked that the shower head is not restricted by dirt or a water restrictor, then you really only have one option:
A shower pump. Why?
A shower pump is cheaper than a power shower, electric shower or pressurised unvented cylinder. Installing a shower pump is a simple task for a plumber, taking around a day to fit. You could even fit it yourself if you are DIY competent. A shower pump is a quick fix that doesn’t involve replacing shower parts or replacing parts of the plumbing system.
If you’re on the hunt for a shower pump then you will no doubt find the number of options on offer a little daunting. No doubt you’re thinking:
“Which is the best pump for my shower? Why is there so much difference in price? What’s the difference between a positive and negative head pump?”
Well, in our opinion, there are only three pump brands that you should choose from. These are Grundfos, Stuart Turner and Salamander.
Amazon ‘Ultra Quiet’ Brass Range: If you’re looking for a pump that can boost the water flow in the shower and is super quiet, then the Amazon range by Grundfos would make an ideal choice. Built with heavy-duty brass impellers and anti-vibration technology, these pumps are super quiet and are perfect for domestic showers. Search prices on the Grundfos Amazon ‘Ultra Quiet’ Brass range here.
Stuart Turner Monsoon Shower Pump Range: 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 the Stuart Turner Monsoon range here.
Salamander CT Xtra Pumps Range: 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 CT Xtra Range 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.
If you’re new to the world of plumbing then even the idea of selecting (let alone installing) a shower pump can be overwhelming.
However, if you are confident in DIY and you know how to find your water tank, then installing a shower pump is quite easy and all the instructions are included in the kit. If you do decide to go with a plumber, then it shouldn't be a costly job.
We estimate that to replace an old shower pump it should take about half a day. That’s around £120 to £150.
If this is the first time you’ve had a shower pump installed in your home, then we estimate it will take about a day and will cost around £200. Prices do vary from location to location, so please shop around and make sure you get quotes from a range of plumbers before choosing one.