What is a Universal Shower Pump?
If you've ever experienced weak water pressure in your shower, you know how frustrating it can be. Fortunately, there is a solution: a universal shower pump. These shower pumps increase water pressure in both hot and cold water feeds for a more invigorating showering experience.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at what a universal shower pump is and how it differs from other types of shower pumps. We'll also explore the benefits of using a universal shower pump and how to install one.
What is a universal shower pump and how does it work?
Universal shower pumps are designed to increase the water pressure in your shower system. These pumps work by increasing the pressure in both hot and cold water feeds, using a twin impeller mechanism that draws water from the cold water tank and delivers it to the showerhead at a higher pressure.
These shower pumps can be used in both positive and negative head shower pump conditions and require a minimum gravity flow of water to work. A universal pump can also be installed into open-vented hot and cold systems.
Differences between universal shower pumps and other shower pumps
Understanding the difference between universal and other shower pumps is important for selecting the right type for your needs.
Positive head shower pumps
In homes with gravity-fed systems, where the hot water tank is usually in an airing cupboard and the cold water cistern is in the loft, a positive shower pump head can be installed to boost water pressure if your shower is not forceful enough.
These pumps require a minimum head of 3ft 3in (990mm) between the base of the cistern and the shower head. Positive head shower pumps incorporate a flow switch that enables them to start automatically when water begins to flow.
Negative head shower pumps
Negative head shower pumps are commonly used in situations where the cold water tank outlet is below or at the same level as the shower head. These pumps have a pressure switch to start pumping when the shower is turned on, even when the water is not flowing.
A negative head shower pump should be considered if the cold water tank is less than 600mm above the shower head or if the water flow is less than 2 litres per minute.
If you're unsure whether you have a negative or positive head shower pump, a universal shower pump is the perfect solution as it works with both.
Single impeller pump
Single impeller pumps are designed to increase the pressure of one water supply. Although it's more common to use this type of pump for boosting hot water pressure, it can also be used for cold water or mixed feeds.
Twin impeller pump
This is the most common type of shower pump used today. Each impeller is fed by either the cold or hot water supply, and it delivers both hot and cold water to the mixer at an equal flow.
A twin impeller pump should be installed within 4 metres of the hot water cylinder and at least 300mm below the cold water tank.
Centrifugal shower pump
Centrifugal pumps work by flinging water outwards from the centre of the impeller, resulting in water exiting with greater pressure than when it entered the pump.
Regenerative shower pump
This type of pump pushes water around the pump chamber before exiting at a higher pressure. For most homeowners, the difference between centrifugal and regenerative pumps is not important. The main decision comes down to positive or negative head pumps, then single or twin impeller pumps.
Benefits of a universal shower pump
Universal shower pumps have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their numerous benefits.
Increased water pressure
Perhaps the most evident benefit of a universal pump is the increased water pressure it provides. These pumps are typically fitted with two impellers which draw water from your cold water tank or mains supply and boost its pressure before pumping it out to your showerhead.
This increased water pressure can make a noticeable difference in the power and flow of your shower.
Improved performance of low-pressure systems
Another advantage of a universal pump is that it can improve the performance of low-pressure water systems. This is because the pump can boost the flow rate of water, which means that even if the water pressure is low, the shower can still provide a satisfactory flow of water.
Reduced water wastage
In addition to increasing water pressure and improving the performance of showers, a universal shower pump can also help you save a considerable amount of water, energy, and money.
With traditional shower systems, water is often wasted while waiting for the right temperature, and the water pressure is often weak, leading to longer shower times. A universal pump solves this problem by ensuring a consistent flow of water, allowing you to shower quickly and efficiently.
How to know if a universal shower pump is for you
Deciding whether a universal shower pump is the right choice for you will depend on whether you have the budget, or desire, to heighten your shower experience.
However, it's important to note that not all homes can accommodate a universal shower pump, and there are several crucial factors you must consider before installing one.
1. What type of water system do you have?
A universal pump can only be installed in properties with a gravity-fed (also called an open-vented) system. This system is easily identified by its cold water tank usually in the loft and hot water cylinder usually in an airing cupboard.
If you have a combi-boiler or an unvented heating system, installing a universal shower pump is impossible. as both systems use mains-fed water. It is important to note that connecting a shower pump to the mains water supply is against British regulations.
2. What type of shower do you have?
The type of shower you have determines the type of universal shower pump you can use. If you're renovating and still need to install a shower, it's important to determine the right type of shower for you, as well as its compatibility with a universal shower pump.
For thermostatic or manual mixer showers, a universal pump with a single impeller can boost pressure for one water supply. On the other hand, install a twin impeller pump to boost both the hot and cold water supply.
For an electric or power shower that only requires a cold water supply, a single impeller pump is all you need.
3. What size pump do you need?
The size of the shower pump is determined by the bar rating it can deliver. A higher bar rating means it will have a higher pressure. The bar rating needed will depend on the size of your house, the shower head size, and the hot water cylinder capacity.
To help ensure you choose the right size, here are some general guidelines:
- A small flat or home: If you reside in a small flat, apartment, or house either, you'll need a pump with 1.5 to 2.0 bars of pressure.
- Small family home (2-bedroom house): In this instance, we recommend purchasing a universal pump with around 2.0 to 3.0 bars of pressure.
- Large family home (3-bedroom house): If you have a family of four people or more, a shower pump with around 3.0 bars of pressure is best.
- Multiple showers: If you have a home with four or more rooms with several showers and taps, a shower pump with 3.6 bars or more of pressure is sufficient. However, you should avoid installing a pump that's 3.0 bars or above if your home has a small hot water cylinder.
How to install a universal shower pump
Installing an electrical product like a shower pump can be hazardous, so it's best to have a qualified plumber do it for you. However, if you're confident in your abilities to conduct an installation, here are some steps to follow:
First, the plumbing supplies you'll need include:
- Your universal pump
- Flexible hoses
- A Surrey or Essex flange (depending on the connection)
- A bucket
- A monkeywrench and screwdriver
- An electrical tester
Step 1: Ensure safety regulations are met
Before installing your pump, you need to determine the right placement and location. This is not only important for reducing noise levels and ensuring easy access for future maintenance, but also for safety.
Choose a warm, dry location at least 600mm away from the shower basin to comply with wiring regulations. Suitable places include an airing cupboard, a loft, or above cylinders.
Step 2: Connect the pump to the electrical supply
Next, connect the pump to your home's electrical supply if you have experience with electrical wiring. To connect it to your electrical supply, use a 230v switched spur off a ring main.
Do not connect it to anything that requires a dedicated supply of energy.
Step 3: Isolate the water supply
Isolate the water supply by fitting a full bore isolating valve (22mm) on the pump's cold water supply.
Step 4: Install a flange
Now, at the top of the hot water cylinder, you're going to fit a flange to prevent air pockets and damage. If it's a 22mm connection, use an Essex flange, or a Surrey flange if it's a 15mm connection.
Step 5: Connect flexible hoses
Next, you'll need to connect the flexible hoses that come with your pump to the delivery pipes. This is to reduce noise and prevent damage to the pump.
Step 6: Flush the pipework
Now it's time to install the new shower pump by connecting the cold and hot water feed pipes to the pump, as per the manufacturer's instructions. Before doing so, clean the pipework thoroughly to remove any debris.
Switch off the electrical supply and run a bucket of water from both the cold and hot water tanks until the water runs clear.
Step 7: Check for leaks
Before you turn on the electrical supply and start up your pump, turn on the water supply and check the pump for any leaks. If there are leaks, you'll need to disconnect the hoses and start again.
Step 8: Turn on the power
Finally, you can complete the installation process by turning on the power supply to the pump. Remember to mark cleaning dates on your calendar to keep the pump well-maintained.
Universal shower pumps from PlumbNation
Upgrade your shower experience and say goodbye to poor water pressure with a universal shower pump from PlumbNation. As a leading trusted supplier of the top shower pumps in the UK, including Salamander, Stuart Turner, and Grundfos, we are committed to helping you achieve the perfect showering experience.
Our universal shower pumps are designed to boost the water pressure in your shower, providing you with a consistent water flow and an invigorating showering experience. Whether you're looking for a universal twin shower pump or a whole house pump, we have everything.
Our team of experts is always on hand to help you choose the right shower pump for your needs and provide assistance before, during, and after your purchase.
How long should a universal shower pump last?
Shower pumps should last around 8 years on average before you need to replace them. This can vary depending on the quality of the pump, how often they're used, and how well it's maintained.
How much does a universal shower pump cost to install professionally?
The cost of installing a shower pump will be based on the local hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours it takes a plumber to install the pump. On average, the hourly plumber rate is £50. If you're replacing a broken pump, it will take much less time (and thus cost lower) than installing one for the first time.
Are universal shower pumps noisy?
Shower pumps can be noisy due to the vibrations produced by their mechanism. They can be especially loud if they're installed incorrectly or not maintained regularly. However, there are ways to reduce the noise, such as checking that the surrounding pipes are secure, changing the location, and buying a noise-reducing pad.