A Guide to Water Pressure in Bathrooms
In simple terms, water pressure is a measurement of how quickly the water flows through the pipes and through your taps. If the water pressure is low, water will flow slowly and it will take some time to fill up a sink or a bath, especially in upstairs rooms. If water pressure is higher, the bath will fill up a lot more quickly and you will have great showers.
If you have lived in a house for a while it can be difficult to know whether you have high or low pressure, as the speed with which the water comes out of the taps is what you are used to and think of as “normal”. Water pressure in the bathroom really only matters when you are thinking about upgrading or renovating your bathroom.
Problems with Water Pressure
If you notice a sudden drop in your water pressure, this should be reported to your local water provider. If neighbours are having the same problems, it could be that there is a leak in the mains water pipe, stopping a lot of the water getting into your home in the first place. If neighbours are not affected, the leak could be closer to home.
Older properties, built at a time where we did not use water hungry appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, have generally been built with narrower pipes than more modern properties. This can cause problems with low pressure if you are using the dishwasher, washing machine and trying to run a bath all at the same time. Pipes in modern houses are twice as wide as in older properties, so these sorts of issues are generally not found in new build homes.
Water pressure can also vary over the course of the day. In the morning when everyone is having a shower and getting ready for work, pressure can be lower. If there is a sudden demand on water supplies such as the fire service dealing with a major blaze in the area, this can cause pressure to drop suddenly too.
Measuring Your Water Pressure
Water pressure in your bathroom or anywhere else in the house is measured in bars. The standard range for water pressure is anything between 1 bar and 10 bars, and a good plumber will be able to do this for you. There are complicated methods of calculating the water pressure by taking the measurement of pressure from the mains, and then using the height of the taps to calculate how much the pressure drops as the height increases.
Easier than this though is buying a water pressure gauge online or from any large DIY store or plumbers’ merchants shop. These sorts of devices can be fitted permanently onto a pipe feeding a sink so that you can keep track of pressure if you suspect it is becoming a problems.
Power Showers and Boilers
Water pressure really only matters at home when you are thinking about installing a new shower or having a combi boiler fitted. Low pressure is inconvenient when it comes to running the bath or filling the sink, but power showers or boilers have to have a minimum water pressure for them to work properly. A good plumber will help advise you on what your water pressure is, and if it is not high enough for the type of shower you were originally looking at, suggest alternative models which will work just as well.
Increasing Water Pressure
If you have set your heart on a top of the range power shower system but have not got the water pressure to make it work properly, then there are a couple of things which you can do to improve the water pressure in your bathroom.
First, you could raise your cold water storage tank up, which will work with gravity to increase the pressure. If you do not have a cold water tank, or if raising it seems too expensive, you can swap the head on your shower for one which is designed to work with a lower water pressure.
Finally, you could install a pump to use with your new shower. Shower pumps force more water through into the shower head and give a more powerful shower. Pumps can be expensive and noisy though, and if the problem with water pressure is due to low water pressure coming into the house, a pump will not solve the problem.