Low water pressure in the home can be a bit of a problem, especially if you have a power shower, en-suite, and several kitchen appliances all competing for water. Many people just put up with this problem, even though there are solutions out there to suit most types of system, that are very cost effective.
To begin to understand how you can improve water pressure in your home, you’ll first need to identify your hot water system.
What hot Water System do I Have?
Most homes identify with one of the following three types of heating/hot water systems:
- Gravity-fed systems: Often found in older properties, this type of system uses gravity to feed water through your home. The cold water is stored in a storage tank in the loft and there is a hot water cylinder usually in the airing cupboard storing the hot water
- Combi-boiler system: This system relies on mains pressure to get water around the home. There will be a wall-hung boiler somewhere giving you hot water on demand so there is no need for a cold water storage tank or hot water cylinder
- Unvented system: Sometimes called pressurised systems, these are supplied direct from the mains and have a separate hot water cylinder, with a small pressure vessel that stores hot water at mains pressure. This system can be identified by a boiler, a metal hot water storage tank and no cold water storage tank
How can I Improve my Water Pressure?
Lots of things can affect your water pressure, damaged pipes, everyone in the street in the shower at the same time or the position of showers and appliances within the home, especially with gravity-fed systems.
If you have a combi boiler, it could be that it isn’t big enough to provide the hot water that you want, or the shower itself can cause problems if it’s not been designed well or it could just be that there is limescale in the shower head.
With a gravity fed system the height of the cold water storage tank is key so if it’s not high up in the property (a loft for instance) then moving it up there will help, alternatively a pump can be the solutions.
Pumps: The choosing and fitting of a pump can be a bit tricky so it would probably be best to get a qualified plumber to it for you, but you can do some research before contacting them.
What do I Need to Consider When Installing a Pump?
Location: Pumps work best when they are situated close to the tank or cylinder containing the water they are going to pump. Being close to the tank or cylinder can help with the pipework too as it needs to be positioned in a way that the hoses can be connected to the pipe straight or bent no more than 30 degrees.
Pipework: The correct size pipework, which will vary depending on the model you choose, will be needed to ensure the pump works efficiently. This is something your plumber/installer should be able to help you with.
Temperature: Ensure the temperature of the water going into the pump is less than 60 degrees. If this is exceeded it may cause your pump to leak. If you have a standard gas central heating boiler this can be done easily with a cylinder thermostat. If you have solar or solid fuel, the hot feed to the pump must be controlled by the use of a blending valve, which will also need dedicated hot and cold feeds to ensure the supply through this is adequate for the pump.
Pressure reducing valve (PRV): A pressure reducing valve is needed if the gravity hot water is being pumped with a single impeller pump and the cold water is mains fed to a mixer valve/tap. PRVs work by allowing water to flow into it them, so a spring loaded internal diaphragm can reduce the pressure to a pre-set level determined by the installer, which means you can correctly control the temperature of the water.
Are Pumps Noisy?
No pump is silent but there are quiet pumps available. For instance Salamander Pumps HomeBoost, is just one of the company’s many pumps to be awarded the Quiet Mark for its low noise operation. Look for the dBA rating of a pump, most manufacturers quote them on their websites, to get an idea of how noisy it’s going to be.
Low water pressure isn’t something you have to put up with, armed with a bit of information about the type of system you have, you can find a solution to dribbling showers and slow filling baths. If you would like some more information on this problem and how to fix it, check out our project on water pressure problems and how to fix them here.