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Showers

May 21, 2013

Cool Shower Head

Your standard non-electric shower is not actually one item but rather a collection of components that combine to create a shower.

The shower part that most people interact with is of course the showerhead, and there are literally thousand of models on the market to choose from. The latest trend in showerhead design is the drench head, of which there are currently two main types; the rainfall / rain shower and the waterfall. Both deliver a large amount of water from an oversized shower head and so would typically be twinned with a pump on low pressure systems. Although waterfall showerheads are typically wall-mounted it has become fashionable for rainfall showerheads to be recessed into the ceiling for a more realistic rain shower effect.

Tip: Fixed showerheads are undoubtedly neater in appearance but the adjustable version is essential if kids and adults need to use the same shower.

Tip: A shower should always be installed so as to allow the dial to be turned without getting wet.

Limescale build up in showerheads can dramatically reduce the efficiency of your shower and its lifespan. For this reason two new anti-limescale designs have come onto the market. ‘Rub-clean’ heads have dozens of small rubber nozzles over the surface of the showerhead, which when rubbed eliminate limescale and hard water deposits. ‘Pin-clean’ heads have pins which push through the holes in the spray-plate when a lever is turned, dislodging any limescale that may have been deposited there.

While the shower hose may not seem like a very important part of a shower, it can dramatically impact on how a shower performs. For example, if you have a low-pressure water system a large bore hose will allow more water to reach your shower head and thus boost the flow rate.  Ideally always buy a shower hose made from durable stainless steel or brass.

A shower panel or multi-outlet showers is considered by some to be the ultimate in luxury showering and consists of a series of bodyjets that provides an all-over showering experience. Most shower panels give best performance when combined with a separate shower pump although some models come with an integrated pump.  They may be used with some types of combination boilers but it is always advisable to check before purchasing.

Tip: When a multi-outlet shower is being installed, make sure that a diverter valve is also installed. This will allow you to use the showerhead in isolation when required.

People often mistakenly think that the bigger the shower head the more powerful the shower but actually the power of a shower is governed by the shower valve and not the shower head. Unless a shower is electric it will use a mixer-valve to blend hot and cold water together to give the right water temperature. Some models have two separate controls for the temperature and flow rate or one that adjusts both simultaneously. Mixer valve showers can either be fitted with pressure sensitive cartridges which maintains a stable showering temperature despite fluctuations in supply pressure or thermostatic valves which regulate temperature if there is a variation in either water temperature or pressure. Thermostatic valves have the inherent resistance to lime scale buildup because as the internals of thermostatic valve adjust in line with changes in water temperature or pressure they automatically dislodge any limescale that may have been deposited.

Digital shower valves are one of the most recent developments in shower design. Not only do they allow you to pre-set the temperature of your shower, they also allow you to switch it on remotely.

Pumps
Mixer valve showers can have pumps fitted to them to provide extra water flow but bear in mind that pumps will empty both hot and cold tanks more quickly than a standard system, so size your pump and storage tanks accordingly.

Pumps with ceramic or carbon seals are less likely to leak and will last longer and pumps with casing made of acetal plastic resist the build up of limescale and so will have a longer lifespan. Noise is often an issue with pumps so if you’re installing an all-in-one or integral power shower opt for a model with a low db rating and try to locate remote pumps away from bedrooms if at all possible and fit with anti-vibration pads.

Individual pumps require a minimum head to operate automatically. This is usually accommodated by providing a vertical distance of 200 – 300mm between the water level in the storage tank and the handset. Pumps need to be maintained and so need to be stored in an easily accessible area and installed with a Residual Current Device (RCD). This device prevents shock by disconnecting the circuit if an imbalance is detected. It is also advisable to fit easily accessible isolating and non-return valves to both inlets as this will ensure future maintenance is made easy.

A pull-cord or a standard isolating switch isolating switch needs to be installed with pumped showers and it needs to be out of reach of person using bath/shower.

All showers should to be run regularly to prevent legionella bacteria from building up in the stagnant water.

The Bye-laws of Dublin City Council state that ‘The fitting of a pump to the direct water supply from the public mains shall only be undertaken with the consent of and in accordance with the requirements of the Water Division.’

See our info on Electric Showers

 

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4 comments

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