How to Install a Shower

A shower can be the focal point for many bathrooms and part your morning ritual - but how do you fit a shower?

As you may have noticed when shopping for a new or replacement shower, there are all sorts of types, from the commonly found electric shower to modern mixer showers. With these come different requirements for installing them at home.

Plumbworld is here to help you fit the shower in your bathroom. We’ve put together this guide to help explain the types of shower and what they need when they are being fit. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll focus on electric showers for installation. We’ll walk you through the steps involved with handy tips to avoid any problems.

Read on to find out how to install a shower at home and how your water system can affect your choice…

What is the best water pressure for a shower?

A low-pressure water system offers a wide choice of showers, including mixer showers, digital showers, electric and power showers. These are all suitable as long as the pressure is achieved.

If you have a high-pressure system, you will have a higher flow rate. Therefore, you can consider larger shower heads and have two or more appliances running at the same time. High-pressure water systems work well with mixer, electric or digital showers without the need to install a pump. This is because the water pressure will be strong enough already.

Read more: How to fit a Shower Enclosure

Water Systems & Showers

If you have a gravity-fed system - where your home has a hot water cylinder and cold water storage in your loft, you can use most showers. You could install a mixer shower with or without a pump, a power shower or an electric shower.

Read more: How to Improve Water Pressure in your Shower

If you've got a combination boiler - sometimes called a combi boiler - or your cold water comes from the mains, your choices are a mixer shower or an electric shower. This is because a combi boiler or a mains water supply does not allow you to fix a pump.

How to install an electric shower

You can fit an electric shower directly over your bath or in a cubicle. Either way, make sure you leave enough room around the shower to remove the front cover for future servicing. 

Depending on the model you buy, the water supply pipe could enter from the top, bottom or from behind. Look at the manufacturer's instructions so you have the right amount of cable to connect to the terminal block.

Important: Before connecting your shower unit, you’ll need to turn on the water to flush any debris from the water inlet pipe. Small debris could damage your new shower. 

Then turn the water off and drain the pipe.

Before you get to installing your shower unit, you need to fit the pipework and electricity supply…

Pipework

  1. Run a 15mm pipe from the cold water supply near your storage tank to the wall where you want to fit the shower. 
  2. Hold your shower unit in place so you can mark its position for the inlet pipe and power supply cable. Mark it with a pencil on the wall. 
  3. Important: use a pipe and cable detector to check there are no hidden pipes or electric cables in the wall before you drill. Otherwise, you could do considerable damage to your home and put yourself in danger.
  4. Then, run the pipe through the wall where you've marked it.

Electricity Supply

  1. Once you’ve fit the pipework, drill a hole in the wall for the electric cable. (The cable size will depend on the kilowatt rating of the shower unit, so check the manufacturer's instructions.) 
  2. Run a cable from the shower unit position to a ceiling-mounted pull-cord switch, which should have an on/off indicator.
  3. Important: you must not position the switch in hazard zones 1 or 2.
  4. An electric shower needs its own dedicated circuit which you must be fitted by an electrician to make the final connection.
  5. The circuit for your electric shower must also be protected by an RCD - a residual current device.

An RCD breaks an electrical circuit to prevent serious harm from an electric shock. They will automatically disconnect a circuit when it detects that the electric current is not balanced - such as through a leakage current - between the supply and return conductors of the circuit.

The Fitting Process

Drill fixing holes

Hold your shower unit in position and mark the fixing holes with a pencil. Drill holes where you’ve marked the holes with a masonry bit. Fit some wall plugs or rawl plugs, and squeeze some silicone sealant onto each one.

Tip: If you're drilling through wall tiles, use masking tape on the tiles to stop your bit slipping.

Feed the supply & screw into place

Feed the water supply pipe and electric cable through the backplate of the shower unit. Then, you can screw the back of the shower unit to the wall.

Connect the pipe

Connect the water pipe to your shower unit. Use a wrench to tighten the compression fitting - it’s used to connect two pipes or a pipe to a valve.

Connect the cable

With the water pipe connected, you can now connect the electric supply. Connect the live and neutral cores to the terminals marked “load”. Then, connect the earth core to the earth terminal.

Fit the cover

Fit the cover according to the instructions that came with the shower. Ensure that the rubber seal is in place to prevent water from getting into the shower unit and causing damage.

Fit the shower rails

Fit your shower riser rails, the ones that support the shower head. Make sure you install it high enough so your shower head isn’t below you or anyone else who will use it. Ensure your shower head hangs properly - over your bath - so water doesn’t fall elsewhere when the shower has been switched off.

Attach the hose

Now, you can attach the hose for your shower. Screw one end of the hose to the handset, and include any washers, and attach the other end to the shower.

Once you’ve done that, you can turn the water supply back on and test everything.

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more bathroom advice…

How to fit a Shower Enclosure Best Bathroom Designs for Living on Your Own | Design Inspiration: Contemporary Bathroom Design Tips


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