Low water pressure? Upgrade the pressure or fit a booster pump – how to decide.

Low water pressure in our homes is becoming an increasingly common problem – particularly as population and housing density increases. 
boosterpumpWhen it comes to ‘water pressure’ there are actually two factors at play; the ‘water pressure’ and the ‘flow rate’. From a homeowner’s point of view, however, the real issue is whether they’re able to have a decent shower or a sensible amount of water coming out of the taps to wash-up, fill the bath etc.
So what can homeowners do?
According to Brad Kuhmley from The Hamilton Group, regardless of the cause of weak showers, the solutions are basically the same;
a) upgrade the incoming water mains
b) boost the house’s pressure using a booster pump or similar solution
Brad takes a look at the pros and cons of these two options:
1.    Upgrade the incoming cold water mains
This involves the homeowner contacting the local water supplier, and applying to upgrade the water mains. It will mean having the stopcock in the pavement upgraded (and possibly the old lead pipe that runs from the stopcock to the middle of the road to join the main water mains).
They will then need a plumber to run the new larger bore cold water mains from the pavement into the house.
The water company will do the final connection.
Pros

  • This can be the cheapest way of increasing water pressure. Prices start from £500
  • It is fairly ‘green’ too, as there’s nothing electrical / mechanical involved

Cons

  • There are no guarantees that it will actually solve the water pressure problem. For example, Thames Water has no obligation to make sure your pressure is sufficient – just that you have water coming into the home.
  • It can also be expensive. If everything goes smoothly that’s great, but that’s not always the case, unfortunately.

For example we’ve had clients where the water company has had to close the road and install temporary traffic lights etc. This has cost around £3000, then, in addition, they have needed to dig the trench, run the new mains, fill the trench back in etc. This can cost between £500 and £1000. So prices can, in some circumstances, be over £4000.

  • There can also be a 2 – 3 month lean time
  •  A lot of homes have a shared water mains; so if one your neighbours isn’t keen to contribute to the upgrade, then the cost will fall to the homeowner.

2. Install a break tank and a constant pressure pump
This involves fitting a cold water storage tank. The weaker cold water mains then fills this tank, and from there the water to the rest of the house is boosted, by way of a ‘constant pressure pump’.
Pros

  • Guaranteed results and 100% success rate
  •  These are ‘constant pressure pumps’, so the pump will adjust and keep the pressure constant
  •  They’re extremely quiet and can be fitted in bedroom cupboards or loft bedrooms.
  •  The cost is usually comparable to those incurred when upgrading your water mains, except this solution is guaranteed to do the job. Prices start from around £1500 + vat to supply and fit.

Cons

  • They do require a space where the pump and tank can be fitted. However, they cold water storage tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes – so they can be fitted in awkward areas.
  • The pipe sizing throughout your home needs to be done correctly and may require upgrading to 15mm in some areas of the house

Low water pressure can be very irritating, and it won’t get better – in fact it’s only likely to get worse as more and more houses are built and the population density of London, the South East and cities across the UK increases – so fitting a booster pump is worth considering for people concerned about the water pressure in their house.
Also, if they’re looking to add a shower room, or an ensuite, or they’re converting a house into flats, then, again, a booster pump could be worth looking at. It will help to ensure that the pressure stays constant and everyone gets a great shower – regardless of the time of day or the number of people using water in the house.

Form not found, form id :279