Contents


What is a shower pump?
Do I need a shower pump?
What are the different types of shower pumps?
Which pump type do I need?
Do I need a positive or negative (universal) shower pump?
What size shower pump do I need?
What pump brand should I buy?
What are the best shower pumps?
What are the quietest shower pumps?
How do I reduce noise vibrations from my shower pump?


Introduction

There are few things in life as important as having a good quality bathroom installed in your home. It’s 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 refreshing shower.

But if your shower is lacking the required pressure, then you will always be starting the day on the wrong foot.

The struggle to wash properly, the water cooling down before it reaches your body. Let's face it, a trickle of water just doesn’t feel as if it’s getting the job done.

Fortunately, if you are suffering from low water pressure in the shower,  you don’t need to continue living this way.

In most cases, low water pressure in the shower can easily be solved by installing a shower pump -  a sort of small mechanical tool that can easily be installed on to your home’s plumbing system.

Now, if you’re new to the plumbing and pumping world, this is where things can get a little complicated.

No doubt you’re wondering:

"What is a shower pump?"... "What's the difference between a positive or negative shower pump?" ... "Why are there so many shower pumps available?"

All questions that are likely to overwhelm someone new to the pumping world.

That’s why we’ve created this complete guide to buying a shower pump.

Taking you step-by-step through buying a shower pump, we’ll cover the whole spectrum of shower pumps so that you can make a confident purchase decision.

 

What is a shower pump for?

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 doesn’t cut it, this video shows you the difference between a shower head with no pump, 1.5 bars worth of pressure and 3.0 bars of pressure.

Learn about the different bars worth of pressure with Salamander.

Back to top

 

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 is how to test your water pressure:
image showing the three step process to testing water pressure in the home
Step 1: Take a measuring jug (preferably 1 litre in size)

Step 2: Place the measuring jug directly into the path of the problem showerhead

Step 3: Time how long it takes to fill the measuring jug

If it takes longer than 6 seconds to fill a 1-litre jug then you have significant water pressure issues. You will need a shower pump to improve water pressure.

Back to top

 

What are 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?

Here we give a brief description of each pump type below:

What is a 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. This flow kickstarts the impellers which then pump the water to the shower.

This reliance on gravity means that your water tank needs to be at least 3 feet and 3 inches (990mm) above the shower head.

This allows enough room for the water to pick up speed and kick the pump into action.

What is a negative or universal head shower pump?

Negative (Universal) shower pumps work a little differently. Instead of relying on gravity, a negative (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 used in loft conversions, 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.

What is a single impeller shower pump?

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 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.

What is a 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.

What is a centrifugal shower 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 is then catapulted out by the impeller at a higher pressure than when it first entered the pump.

What is a regenerative shower pump?

A regenerative pump takes in water from the side and is pushed around by the impeller before exiting the pump.

Back to top

 

Which pump type do I need?

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 - Do you have a gravity fed, combi-boiler or unvented heating system?
Step 2 - What shower type do you have installed?
Step 3 - Do you need a positive or negative (universal) shower pump?
Step 4 - Do you need a single or twin impeller shower pump?
Step 5 - What pipesize do you have installed?
Step 6 - What size shower pump do you need?

Step 1 - Do you have a gravity fed, combi-boiler or unvented heating system?

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 gravity fed system
Combi-boiler system
Unvented heating system

Find each of the descriptions in the graphics below.

Conventional gravity fed system

image showing a gravity fed system

Combi Boiler System

graphic showing the placement of combi boiler system

Unvented System

graphic showing the placement of an unvented 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 - What shower type do you have installed?

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 is the universal showermate - model 46534.

If you are 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 - Do you need a positive or negative (universal) pump?

You will need a positive shower pump if the bathroom and showers are on floors below the water tank - that is, your cold water tank is in the attic or if the cold water tank is above the shower head if you live in a single-storey flat or bungalow.

A positive pump needs a flow rate of at least 0.6 litres a minute and relies on gravity to start the impellers to pump hot and cold water.

A negative shower head pump works by sucking water from the tank to the shower and is the best choice for when the shower head is at the same level or higher than the water tank. This can be used in loft conversions, for example.

Take a look at the graphic below:

graphic showing you the difference between a positive and negative shower pump

As you can see, the top level bathroom needs a negative head shower pump as it has less than 600mm between the tank and the showerhead.

The bathroom on the bottom level can use a positive head shower pump as the water has more than 600mm to flow through the pipes, kick-start the impellers to pump the water.

Please find an complete guide on Do I need a positive or negative shower pump? here.

Step 4 - Do you need a single or twin impeller shower 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.

A centrifugal pump is usually made of higher quality components. The higher quality parts will help to reduce noise.

The higher-quality parts will generally guarantee a better lifespan for the pump.

Genuinely, the decision is up to you. There are ups and downs to each pump type, and it really does often come down to price.

Step 5 - What pipesize do you have installed?

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 6 - What size shower pump do you need?

The size of pump you need will be determined by the pressure requirements of your home.

Think:

How much pressure is needed to drive water to the taps and showers?
How many water units will be in use at one time?
Do I have more than one shower?
How big is my home?

Think carefully about the questions above before purchasing a shower pump. It may seem like a good idea to purchase a cheaper, low-pressure shower pump, but if you have a large family then it may fail to increase the water pressure in your shower.

Saying that we have a few general rules that should help you make a purchase decision.

A small flat

If you’re living in a small flat, apartment or house as a bachelor/bachelorette or with one partner, then you will need to purchase a pump with 1.5 to 2.0 bars worth of pressure.

Search for a 1.5 to 2.0 bar shower pump here.

Small family (2 Bedroom House)

For a young family in a small, 2 bedroom house, we suggest purchasing something with around 2.0 to 3.0 bars of pressure.

Search for a 2.0 to 3.0 bar shower pump here.

A family of four (3 Bedroom House)

If you have a family of four people plus, then we suggest purchasing a pump with about 3.0 bars of pressure.

Search for a 3.0 bar shower pump here.

Multiple showers

If you have multiple showers and taps in use at one time, then we suggest purchasing a pump with over 3.0 bars of pressure. Something like 3.6 bar should provide enough power.

Search for a 3.6 bar shower pump here.

Note: If you’re struggling for advice, ring our dedicated pump experts for free advice on: 0800 112 3134 or 0333 577 3134.

We’re open Monday to Friday 07:00 - 17:30 and Saturday 08:30 - 12:30.

Please find a more complete guide on Which Shower Pump Do I Need? here.

Back to top

 

What pump brand should I buy?

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 the 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 is a technological giant of the pumping world. Investing heavily in a variety of pump tech, Salamander was 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.

Back to top

 

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.

Back to top

What are the best shower pumps?

Please find an up to date guide on the Best Shower Pumps here.

Positive Head Shower Pumps - Under £150

Salamander CT75 Xtra 2.0 Bar

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

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

Back to top

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

Back to top

Positive Head Shower Pumps - Under £300

Grundfos Amazon SSP-3.0B

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

Back to top

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 a quality 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

Back to top

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 is far from renowned for expensive pumps, in fact usually you will find that Salamander is 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

Back to top

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

Back to top

Please find a more complete guide

What are the quietest shower pumps?

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.

There are plenty of excellent sources of information out there about understanding shower pump noise ratings.

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.

Search Prices on the Stuart Turner Monsoon range here.

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.

Search Prices on the Salamander RP range here.

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.

Search Prices on the Grundfos Amazon range here.

Back to top

 

How do I reduce noise vibrations from my shower pump?

Noise is one of the most common complaints about older shower pumps. The banging. The vibrating. Quite annoying if you're trying to sleep while a family member showers.

If you can't afford to buy a new, higher-quality and quieter shower pump, take at the tips below.

Check Surrounding Pipes

While each shower pump will be tested to ensure noise reduction, it’s always a good idea to do a 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 your warranty. 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.

Back to top

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 you 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 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 pumping 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 designed 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.  

Back to top