Do Low Pressure Shower Heads Work?

Welcome to our new blog, this page is all about low water pressure and how it affects your home.

Millions of homes in the UK suffer from low water pressure at the shower head and I live in one with terrible pressure issues.

Have a look at the photo below, does your shower head look anything like this?

Low pressure shower head

If so, you are not alone.

Products That Just Don’t Work (well they didn’t for me)

I’ve tried no less than FOUR different shower heads in an attempt to solve my issues.

The cold truth is that none of them has made a truly significant difference.

The best one of the four did help a little but it’s still not enough to give me a satisfying shower:

The Homewell Multi-Function Shower Head (pictured below) is the best one so far and I purchased it from Amazon for £18 including a new hose.

If I select the option with the least amount of exit holes I do get a slight jet of water but it’s nowhere near as much as I would like. I’m probably getting about an extra 10% of water from the showerhead when compared to my previous shower.

Here’s a photo of my shower, it’s set to “massage” stream which has the smallest holes:

Low pressure shower head

Here is the advert:

Shower head options

You can read reviews of this product on Amazon

I Gave Up On “Low-Pressure Shower Heads” and Tried This

As I’ve tried so many different products it’s obvious that my issue cannot be fixed by simply changing the showerhead, so I’ve bitten the bullet and fitted a pump next to the hot water cylinder.

Here’s a diagram of my hot water system.

As you can see, the hot water cylinder is located at the same height as the showerhead – there just isn’t enough vertical space for gravity to pull the water out with any force.

As you can see from this diagram, my house has good cold water pressure but very weak hot water pressure – my tank isn’t high enough.

The problem with my house is the location of the hot water cylinder, it’s not high enough and as this is a gravity-fed system, there isn’t enough vertical space for gravity to do its thing.

The best solution for this scenario is to fit a hot water pump, like this:

Hot water pump

If you have a similar setup but are also experiencing low pressure with cold water from a tank, then you can fit a second pump:

Hot and cold water pumps

Looks Simple Eh? There is a Catch However…

The problem with hot water pumps is that they cannot be used with combi boilers.

A combi boiler heats up the mains water and sends it directly to the tap or showerhead. There’s no storage tank for the pump to pull the water from.

If you have a combi boiler and you live in a house with low mains water pressure then your choices are limited, combi boilers rely on the mains pressure to push the hot water to the shower.

The diagram below shows how a combi boiler feeds a shower:

Typical combi setup

Options for a Combi System With Low Mains Pressure

In my previous home, I came very close to replacing the old boiler with a combi and getting rid of the hot water cylinder.

Fortunately, the heating engineer checked the mains water pressure coming into the house and it was obvious there wouldn’t be enough pressure to send the water upstairs and out of the shower with enough force to keep me happy.

We decided that the best (and cheapest) option would be to replace the old boiler with a new combi, keep the hot water cylinder and add a pump to it so the hot water will flow to the taps and shower upstairs with enough force.

There is a downside to this approach:

  • It’s not the most efficient system as combi boilers work best when they send the water directly to the taps/shower. As soon as you add hot water cylinders, there is a heat loss and the entire system is less efficient than it could be.
  • If you don’t already have a hot water cylinder in place, it will be costly to install one and all the necessary pipework. I was fortunate that my cylinder was fairly new and in place.

Step by Step Checklist For Troubleshooting Low-Pressure Shower Head Issues:

As I’m sure you can appreciate, there are dozens of different hot water setups and the solution for my house might not be the best option for you.

Here’s a checklist for you to go through

  • Clean the showerhead and remove any limescale, toothpicks work well.
  • Replace the showerhead with a new one and see if it makes any difference.
  • Check the hose, if it’s clogged or leaking just replace it as they’re cheap.
  • Check the hose size – there are two different sizes in the UK and the narrower one could restrict the flow of water into the showerhead.
  • Shorten the hose, common sizes are 1.5m, 1.6m, 1.75m and 2m. You should use the shortest hose possible to reduce the distance the water has to travel.
  • If there are any limescale filters installed along the pipework, check they aren’t clogged, replace or clean as required.
  • Check the mains shut off valve, it should be fully open, also check for any inline valves. Sometimes homeowners switch off the water supply, perhaps after a leak or when going abroad for an extended holiday, there is a chance the valves aren’t fully open.
  • Have the mains water pressure checked, a plumber can do this for you if you don’t have a gauge.
  • If you have a gravity-fed system, contact a plumber and ask for a price to install a pump. They could be cheaper than you think, it depends on your setup.

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