If your shower pump has been installed correctly and to the manufacturer’s instructions, it should give you years of trouble-free operation. However, there are certain things you can do to keep it running smoothly. Here we look at caring for your pump for trouble-free operation.
Check the shower first
You should always make sure that the handset or shower head is cleaned and descaled regularly. The most common cause of a poor flow from the shower is not, as is often first suspected, the shower pump, but a block inside the handset or the shower rose. This is most likely to happen in areas with hard water and homes that haven’t had a water softener fitted.
Checking shower pump filters
If there is still poor flow after you’ve cleaned and descaled the shower head then it may be necessary to clean the filters inside the shower pump. The filters can become blocked with limescale in hard water areas and, after the initial installation of the pump or where a lot of work has been done on the pipework in a house, with jointing compounds, tapes, flux and other bits of debris. To clean the filters, turn off all service valves and disconnect the electrical connection to the shower pump. The filters are generally located behind the flexible connection pipes to the impellers. Remove them and clean them gently. Then reconnect the system and refill the pump by opening the valves.
Airlocks in shower pumps
Should you suspect that there’s an airlock in the pump which is impeding water flow, you’ll need to bleed the pump. You can do this by turning off the electrical supply to the pump and then open the shower mixer and any other taps that are fed by the pump, allow water out and then close them again. You can vent the pump directly by removing the connection pipes after you’ve turned off all the valves. Bleeding the entire system should be a last resort.
Noisy shower pumps
If your pump starts making an unusual humming sound, this could be a sign of something more serious. If this happens it could be a warning that the shower pump has become jammed and that the impellers are not rotating. This could be because you’re in a hard water area and not using it often enough and limescale is accumulating inside it. It could also be as a result of the seals becoming stuck or there might be an electrical problem. In this case, you should call a qualified engineer to service the pump.
Sometimes pumps become noisier over time. When this happens, the problem could either be from the way that the shower pump is sited or something to do with the pipework. Ensure that the pump is fitted with anti-vibration feet and make sure that all the pipework that supplies it and is within 3ft (900mm) of it is properly supported.
Likewise, ensure that there is sufficient water – both hot and cold – to supply the pump. If there is not, the pump may make a straining sound and you could be shortening its life. Ensure that all valves supplying the pump and those on the other side of it are open to the manufacturer’s specifications.
It’s common sense but sometimes overlooked, particularly as our winters seem to be getting colder again, but you must ensure that your shower pump is protected from freezing. The cold feed pipe from the cold tank must be lagged to prevent ice causing bursts or damage to the shower pump.
Shower pump leaks
Should you notice a leak from your shower pump you should turn off the isolating valves on both the feed and delivery sides. It is possible for the seals to deteriorate over time and they can be replaced. Call a service engineer to rectify the problem.
Other shower pump problems
If your shower-pump stops working, don’t automatically assume that it’s a problem with the pump. Check the electrical supply – most pump failures are caused by nothing more complicated than a blown fuse.
If the pump continues to run after you’ve turned off the mixer or taps, check that there isn’t a leak in the pipework from the delivery end of the pump to the shower.
Should your shower pump start pulsing and delivering water to the shower in bursts, other taps in the house may be causing it to malfunction and there could be a problem with your pipework. Call an engineer to rectify the problem.
Finally, make sure that the water temperature from the hot water cylinder does not exceed 60C. Water that is excessively hot can cause damage to the pump during prolonged use, draw air into the system and invalidate its warranty.
For more help with shower pumps, read our answers to common questions about shower pumps and find out what type of shower pump you need.
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