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
4. Selecting a shower
When selecting a shower type the first steps are to look at your existing heating system and the proposed location for the shower.
If you have central heating then you will probably want to consider a power or mixer shower. If you have a combi boiler, a standard mixer shower usually works quite well and provides an adequate water flow rate as the both the hot and cold supplies will be at the mains cold water pressure. Remember that shower pumps and power showers cannot be used with combi-boilers.
If getting both hot and cold water to the shower is problematic then consider going electric but do consider that the installation cost for an electric shower is several times the cost of the shower itself.
Showers can be installed in many locations other than bathrooms and are often installed in an annex or bedroom where space is available. There are rules about the how close showers can be to power sockets and this needs to be taken into consideration where the installation is outside a bathroom.
A separate shower cubicle is often fitted, sometimes in place of a bath. There are a wide range of sizes and designs available including cubicles designed for ease of access or to enable a carer to assist. Trays also come in a wide variety of designs, some low level, some needing a step up. Cubicles need connection to drainage and depending on drain runs this can impact the type of tray that it is practical to fit. If drainage runs are difficult waste pumps can assist in many cases. If you are fitting a shower over a bath the wall will need tiling to shower height and a shower screen or curtain fitting. Tiles remain the common choice for shower walls but a range of waterproof panels and tile sheets are also available and increasingly popular. These negate the need to clean grout and are particularly useful in hard water areas.
An extractor fan is also a good idea if you don't already have one and in conversions or new builds is a requirement. These can be fitted in ceilings and walls and in most cases have a 'run-on' timer to ensure condensation is reduced by continuing in operation for a few minutes after the lights have been turned off. Fans that operate based on humidity levels are also available.
If you are planning a shower also think about flooring. It can be forgotten but it provides the finishing touch and should be planned in the general scope of works.
Remember that showers require maintenance. Grout and mastic in particular needs maintaining to prevent leaks and it's a good idea to know where to isolate the water supplies to a shower, just in case an emergency occurs.
This article is continued in part 5 - Changing a bath to a shower
If you are not intending to read on you may find the following links to additional information on the 50plus web site useful.
For more on showers and illustrations read this.
And for more on shower repairs click here.
Ask 50plus for help if you are unsure. Only DIY if you are competent and understand the rules. Regulations apply to shower installations.
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