Can A Shower Pump Be Fitted in the Loft? Everything You Need to Know
If you're considering installing a shower pump in your home, you may be wondering about where exactly the best place is to fit one. While the airing cupboard is typically the preferred location, can shower pumps also be fitted in the loft?
Installing a shower pump can be a significant investment, and at PlumbNation, we believe you should have all the necessary information you need to make an informed decision.
Because of this, we've put together this detailed guide on everything you need to know about fitting a shower pump in your loft. We'll discuss the benefits and possible disadvantages, as well as what to consider before installation.
Why install a shower pump in the loft?
In simple terms, yes, you can install a shower pump in a loft - but why might you want to? What are the benefits that come with loft installation that makes it worthwhile? The following are a few reasons why fitting a shower pump in the loft might be the best option for you.
Improved water pressure
One of the most significant benefits of installing a shower pump in the loft is improved water pressure. If you have low water pressure in your home, a shower pump can be a game-changer.
By installing a shower pump in a loft, you can increase water pressure from as low as 0.3 bar (considered low water pressure) to a maximum of 3.0 bar. This is particularly important if you live in a household with multiple showers or have a large showerhead that requires more water pressure to operate effectively.
In addition to increasing water pressure and improving the performance of showers, shower pumps can also help you save a considerable amount of water, energy, and money.
The improved water pressure and consistent flow result in quicker bath fill times and shorter showers. In turn, this means lower utility bills and a more environmentally-friendly showering experience.
Lastly, installing a shower pump in a loft can help you save valuable space in your home. If you have a small bathroom, having your shower pump in the loft can free up space that would otherwise be taken up by a bulky pump in the airing cupboard.
You'll also benefit from more flexibility in terms of interior design and storage solutions when you install a shower pump in the loft.
Disadvantages of installing a shower pump in the loft
While a loft can be an ideal location for installing a shower pump, there are potential issues that may arise. These include:
- Noise: Shower pumps can be noisy, especially if they're not installed correctly. To avoid this, it's best not to bolt the pump to the floor of your loft or else the vibrations can cause a more noticeable sound that disturbs your household.
- Maintenance: If your loft is particularly small or packed with storage items, it could be challenging to access the pump for maintenance and repairs.
- Ventilation: A shower pump heats up during use so proper ventilation is crucial for safe operation. Lofts can vary dramatically in terms of temperature, from stuffy hot summers to freezing winters, which could impact your shower pump’s ability to function.
Things to consider before installing a shower pump in the loft
A shower pump can be fitted in a loft as a reliable solution to improve water pressure. However, before you begin the installation process, there are several factors you need to consider to ensure your shower pump complies with regulations and works optimally.
Water tank location
It’s a good idea to plan and map out where to place your cold water tank before you begin installing the shower pump. For everything to work properly, it's essential that the hot water cylinder is located close to the pump.
Ideally, the pump should be installed a minimum of 600mm below the cold tank and within 4-5m of the measured pipe length from the hot water cylinder.
Shower pumps are only permissible when installed in a property with a gravity-fed system (also known as an open-vented hot and cold system).
If your property has an unvented or combi boiler system, installing a shower pump is not possible. Both of these systems use mains-fed water, and it is against British regulations to connect a shower pump to the mains water supply.
It's also important to ensure that the existing plumbing is compatible with the pump's minimum flow rate and pressure requirements (we discuss this in more detail later). The pipework needs to be in good condition and free from leaks to prevent any damage to the pump or plumbing system.
While modern shower pumps are significantly quieter than older models, they can still produce noise. This is especially true if they're not installed correctly. This will not only be a nuisance to you but also cause a disturbance for other nearby properties.
Thankfully, there are top-quality shower pumps that come with smart technology designed to minimise noise without impacting performance. Alternatively, you can purchase an anti-vibration or noise-reduction mat to reduce the noise level of the pump.
Lastly, the loft should be easily accessible for installation, maintenance, and repair. Loft spaces can be challenging to access, and you should ensure there is adequate space to install the pump and its associated plumbing safely.
If your loft space is particularly small or difficult to access, you may need to consider installing the pump in a different location. An airing cupboard or utility room may be a more practical solution if the loft is unsuitable.
How to install a shower pump in the loft
Shower pumps can be complex devices, and each home may have unique requirements. You should always seek advice from a qualified Gas Safe-registered engineer in your local area if you’re uncertain about how to install a shower pump correctly.
For those who feel confident about installing a shower pump, here is our detailed step-by-step guide to help you safely and correctly install a shower pump.
Step 1: Choosing the right type of pump
Before you can go ahead with the installation process, you'll need to have the right shower pump. There are three main types of shower pumps: a universal pump, a positive head pump, and a negative head pump.
The type of pump
If the shower head you want to increase in pressure is below the cold water storage tank, you'll need a positive shower pump. On the other hand, if the showerhead is at the same level or above the cold water tank, a negative head pump is the best choice.
If you're unsure whether you have a negative or positive head, a universal shower pump is a perfect solution, as it works with both.
Shower pumps also come with either a single impeller or a twin impeller. For boosting both cold and hot supply to the shower, a twin pump is required. If you only need to boost one water supply, such as with an electric or power shower, a single impeller pump is sufficient.
To get the best shower experience, you must choose the right type of shower for you before anything else.
The size of pump
When choosing the right type of pump for your property, you also need to consider the size. The size of the pump is determined by the bar rating it can deliver. The bar rating you'll need will depend on the size of your house, the shower head size, and your desired pressure.
Generally, these are the best pump sizes based on the size of your home:
- Small flat or home: A pump with a pressure of 1.5 to 2.0 bars is best
- Small family home (2-bedroom house): A pump with a pressure of around 2.0 to 3.0 bars is sufficient
- Large family home (3-bedroom house): A shower pump with around 3.0 bars of pressure will work
- Multiple showers: For a home with multiple showers, a house pump with a pressure of 3.6 bars or more is best
Step 2: Installation process
Before you begin the installation, you'll need the correct plumbing supplies:
- Your pump
- Flexible hoses
- A Surrey or Essex flange (depending on the connection)
- A bucket
- A monkey wrench and screwdriver
With all the supplies ready, you can now begin the installation process by following these steps:
- Start by unboxing the pump and reading the enclosed installation instructions
- Use a 230v switched spur off a ring main to connect the electrics to the house's electrical supply
- Install a 2mm full-bore isolating valve onto the cold water supply pump to create a local isolation valve to and from the pump
- To prevent air ventilation, install a Surrey flange for 15mm connections or an Essex flange for 22mm connections to the top of the hot water cylinder
- Use flexible hoses to connect the delivery pipes to reduce noise and prevent pump damage
- Flush the pipework completely to avoid debris causing damage before connecting it to the pump
- After installation, switch off the electrical supply and rinse the hot and cold sides until the water runs clear to prevent air pockets
- Finally, turn on the power supply to the pump to complete the installation process
Step 3: Maintenance tips
Maintaining and cleaning your shower pump is crucial to avoid problems like flow reduction, leaks, and increased noise.
Here are a few maintenance tips to keep your shower pump working efficiently:
- Be sure to turn off the electric supply before working on the pump.
- Remove and clean the pump's reservoir, flushing it annually with an anti-bacterial solution.
- Remove and clean the filters as these can become clogged with limescale. Isolate the electrical and water supply, and locate the filters behind the flexible hoses.
- Descale the shower head regularly, particularly in hard-water areas, and clean the shower tray drain to prevent blockages.
- To remove airlocks that cause poor flow, turn off the electricity to the pump and open the shower mixer taps to release the water from the system. To vent the pump correctly, remove the connection pipes after closing off all valves.
Cost of installing a shower pump in a loft
Since fitting a shower pump in the loft can be a complex and time-consuming process, it can also be costly. Plumbers typically charge hourly rates of around £50, which can increase with the difficulty of the job.
How long it will take for a plumber to install the shower pump will depend on factors such as the location and age of the property. In some areas of England, it may take more than half a day to install a shower pump, while in others, it may take almost a full day.
The installation cost is calculated by multiplying the number of hours a plumber takes to install by the hourly rate in the local area.
Other variables that can increase the time taken to install (and, in turn, the price) include:
- Old pipework
- Installing break tanks
- A first-time installation
How long does a shower pump last before it needs to be replaced?
A shower pump should last around 8 years on average before needing to be replaced. This may vary based on factors such as the pump's quality, how often it's used, and how well it's maintained.
Should I install a regenerative or centrifugal pump in my loft?
A regenerative pump is the best choice if you're planning on fitting your pump in a loft or if you want a more cost-effective option. In comparison, a centrifugal pump tends to be far quieter, but this will depend on where you plan to install it.
In conclusion, fitting a shower pump in the loft can be a great solution to improve your home's water pressure and enhance your showering experience. But given the complexity of this process, it's important to consider all aspects, such as the type of pump you need, the available space in your loft, and the installation requirements.
If you're looking to upgrade your shower experience with a shower pump in your loft, then you'll find the best shower pump solutions with PlumbNation. We offer a wide selection of leading brands, including Grundfos, Salamander, and Stuart Turner pumps.
Let us help you solve the problem of poor water pressure today!