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Helpful hints: All about showers part 3

This is a 5 part article To skip to other parts use these links:
Part 1 - Types of showers
Part 2 - Shower flow rates
Part 3 - Water pressure and terminology
Part 4 - Selecting a shower
Part 5 - Changing a bath to a shower

3. Water pressure and terminology

Water companies have told us the minimum water pressure companies are obliged to supply is typically 1 bar, although many properties have in the region of 2.5 bar. We note the general standards of service published by Ofwat state the minimum is 0.7 bar (7 metres of head). To test the pressure you have coming into your property from the water main fill a gallon container from your cold kitchen tap and time it. If it fills in 30 seconds there is 1.5 bar, 20 seconds and there is 2 bar, any quicker and the pressure will be higher. You can use a smaller container e.g. a kettle and measure the time for 1.5 litres and multiply it by 3.
Hot water supply to baths and sinks is often (in older houses) through a gravity-tank fed system, usually located in the roof space. The water pressure from a tank depends on the distance between the bottom of the cold water storage tank and the bath tap or shower head below. Sometimes in flats the cold water storage is immediately above the hot water cylinder around head height. In these circumstances the 'head' is minimal and for a shower could be zero.
Many modern houses have pressurised systems so the hot water is at the same pressure as the incoming cold. Gas fed modern flats and small houses typically have a combi boiler, which heats the water as it flows through (like an electric shower) so the hot water is at the same pressure as the cold.
Shower pumps for use with mixer showers typically deliver 1.5, 2 or 3 bars. You should not need (and cannot fit) a power shower or shower pump on a combi boiler or pressurised system. Most shower pumps operate in a 'positive head' situation only, meaning the pump outlet is below the cold water storage tanks. 'Negative head' shower pumps are required where the pump outlet is at the same level or above the cold water storage tank.
A thermostatic shower reacts to changes in the shower water supply to ensure the water temperature from the shower remains constant.

This article is continued in part 4 - Selecting a shower


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