Showers form an integral part of any bathroom and are a part of our daily routine. There are now more showers than ever before to choose from, so it’s essential to do some research on which best suits your requirements – you can find more information in our shower buyer’s guide. But how do you create the best possible showering experience? Read our essential advice to discover more.
Before going ahead and buying a shiny new shower it’s vital that you find out whether your water pressure is low or high, as well as what the flow rates are like. Once you’re equipped with this essential information you’ll have a better understanding of what type of shower to choose.
Matching the right shower to your water pressure ensures great performance and a superb showering experience. If it’s mismatched, you’ll find that your shower runs very slowly, or the hot and cold water runs at different flow rates making it difficult to achieve a comfortable balance.
Water pressure systems consist of a boiler and water storage tanks. Some homes may not have a boiler, but will have hot and/or cold water tanks, and others have a boiler but no water tanks.
What type of water system do I have?
A cold water tank in the loft and a hot water cylinder elsewhere means you have a low pressure system – it’s quite likely the hot water cylinder is located in the airing cupboard. These are also known as gravity fed systems. You’ll need to choose a shower that’s designed to work with lower water pressure systems. It’s helpful to calculate the exact water pressure so you can make the right choice.
A combination boiler means you have a high pressure vented water system. The boiler will be fitted to the wall and likely to be located in the kitchen. You won’t have a cold or hot water storage tank. A combi boiler is fed directly with mains pressure cold water, which is then quickly heated and pumped around your home at close to mains pressure. A high pressure system is suitable for use with the majority of showers, so you don’t need to calculate the exact water pressure.
A hot water tank but no cold water tank means you have a high pressure unvented water system. The water is stored at mains pressure in a hot water tank – it is heated by immersion heaters attached to the side of the tank or a central heating boiler likely to be found in the airing cupboard. The majority of showers are suitable for this type of system.
Calculating water pressure
Water pressure is measured in bar. 0.1 bar is equivalent to approximately 1.45 pa of pressure. If you have a low pressure system, you’ll need to measure the water pressure so you can find a shower that will provide optimal flow. To do this measure the height between the bottom of the water tank and the outlet of the shower in metres. You may need to measure from the shower to the ceiling, and then from the floor of your loft to the bottom of the tank. Once you have these two measurements add them together. You’ll want to know the distance to the nearest metre.
If there are floors between the loft and kitchen, measure the height from floor to ceiling and add this number to the total.
Use this table to work out the water pressure:
Water systems which operate at 1.0 bar or more are high pressure systems, and those with a pressure of less than 1.0 bar are low pressure systems.
If you have low water pressure and want a mixer shower, a shower pump can be fitted to give it a much needed boost. Choosing the right shower pump depends on the type of tank that you have such as a hot or cold water tank or a combi boiler, and where it’s located in your home. Before choosing a shower pump, it’s a good idea to ask an experienced plumber for advice as there are various ones to choose from.
You can’t connect a pump to a combi boiler or a cold water supply that comes straight out of the mains. To get the most from a shower pump, you may need a bigger hot water cylinder.
Enhance a sense of space
The space you shower in is also an important factor to consider. If you aren’t lucky enough to have plenty of room, then consider creating a wetroom or a wet area, which are both great options for enhancing a sense of space. Having a wetroom means the space needs tanking – a job best left to a professional. It’s vital that you choose the right tiles too, as some types create a slippery surface when wet. Mosaics are a good option as they provide an eye-catching feature and reduce the risk of slipping.
In a wetroom, the floor needs to be on a slight gradient to ensure the water drains away quickly. Where there is no visible shower tray, the only drainage that you will notice is a neat, metal grille at the end where the shower head is.
If you would prefer a shower enclosure, take into consideration the available space, as different styles are suited better to different sized areas. Walk in showers are a great wetroom alternative and quadrant enclosures are ideal for small bathrooms.
Once you’ve decided on the type of showering area that you want to create, you can then choose the shower. Two-way thermostatic shower valves with a diverter allow you to fit a fixed shower head and a shower handset – this is a really popular option. For a more luxurious showering experience, why not opt for a three-way shower valve with diverter so you can combine a shower head, handset and body jets?
There’s also thermostatic shower panels which incorporate massaging body jets, rainfall shower heads and shower handsets. Some shower heads even incorporate colour changing LED lights for added wow factor.
If you’re conscious of how much water you are using, then opt for a shower head that mixes air with water or fit a flow restrictor to limit the litres per minute.