Many homes across the UK suffer from low water pressure, yet many consumers don’t realise they have an issue, or have simply become accustomed to it. David Williamson of Wilo UK discusses the techniques and tools available to boost water pressure in homes to provide a better result
Under UK regulation, households should be supplied with 0.7 bar – or more – of water pressure. In reality, the delivered water pressure will vary throughout the home, with some outlets exceeding the average, and some falling below it. This is generally due to where the water outlet is – a second floor shower head will be at risk of a much-reduced pressure than an identical ground floor counterpart.
In the case of insufficient flow rates or water pressure, developers and housebuilders must consider how to effectively boost water pressure while remaining cost-conscious on behalf of the tenant. This is vital in ensuring water pressure levels are stable across the property, allowing the homeowner to use multiple outlets simultaneously without fear of pressure dropping.
CAUSES OF LOW WATER PRESSURE
It is not uncommon to experience a sudden spike in temperature while showering – often as a result of someone else within the household flushing the toilet or running a tap. Similarly, in houses of multiple occupancy, or family homes, water pressure can be compromised at peak times such as early in the morning, when multiple water outlets may be required.
A further point to this is that modern housing has evolved too. In years gone by, homes may have only had one main bathroom and potentially a downstairs WC, so there was less opportunity for people to draw water at the same time. Now though, many homes are equipped with multiple bathrooms, utility rooms, ensuite bathrooms, allowing more people to use the water supply simultaneously.
Additionally, lowered mains water pressure may be exacerbating the problem. Normally, mains water that enters the domestic heating system will reach the home at 2 bar, but in densely populated areas, the pressure may be reduced due to increased demand. Water authorities are also under intense scrutiny to reduce leaks in their systems, and one way they are doing this is by reducing overall supply pressure.
To add to these issues, infrastructure and housing is continually increasing, while more people are working at home too. Housebuilding targets are well documented and talked about across the country, with around 233,000 new homes supplied in 2021/22, according to research and figures from the Government. With a target of 300,000 new homes to be built every year, there will inevitably be even more strain on our water supplies. This goes full circle back to affecting the water pressure being received.
IMPLICATIONS OF LOW WATER PRESSURE
In the first instance, low water pressure will inconvenience the homeowner. Combi boilers, for instance, may not fire up if there is low water pressure. Most modern combi boilers need a minimum of 1.3 bar of pressure, yet Ofwat only stipulates a minimum pressure of 0.7 bar at the property.
In the case of a shower, temperamental water pressure may tempt the user to stay in longer, turn the temperature knob up higher or leave it running in the hope it will heat up over time. So, comfort is compromised, time is wasted.
This problem runs even deeper in other areas of the home. Appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines now run on ‘filling cycles’ – designed to operate at certain pressures. If they do not receive the required pressure while the cycle is running, the machine needs to run for longer than necessary. Ofwat also warns that some modern heating appliances and showers will not work below certain pressure levels.
HOW TO RECTIFY LOW WATER PRESSURE & ASSOCIATED CHALLENGES
For homes where the water is supplied directly by the mains – and that’s roughly 99% of the UK’s housing stock, it is beneficial to use a water pressure booster to boost the water pressure within the system.
Sourcing a pressure booster, and thereby solving water pressure issues, is quite simple. A water booster can help deliver constant water pressure at all extraction points. The pressure sensor will detect a drop in the system’s water pressure and instruct the pump to start. Once the pressure has been boosted, all outlets will benefit from constant water pressure. For the homeowner, because of the efficient hydraulics and as it works on demand, it means a water booster can be energy and cost efficient, while being quiet and compact. The inverter varies the speed of the motor, modulating the hydraulic performance according to the specific demand of the plumbing and heating system.
Meanwhile, these systems are quick and easy to install too, so it is not a big investment in terms of additional build time for developers. Water boosters are available in self-priming and non-self-priming options, offering even more flexibility for installation and location of the system around the home and freeing up interior space.
ADAPTING TO THE CHANGING WAYS WE ARE USING WATER
It is important that housebuilders and developers consider the benefits of his water pressure boosting technology when designing and constructing buildings. The relatively cost-effective investment in a water pressure booster allows for significant benefits to the resident, improving their quality of life, and satisfaction with their properties.
The way we are using homes and water is changing. With an increasing population, a growing number of homes and properties, changes to the way we work, there are many factors that mean there’s a much-sharpened focus on utilities and services in our home.
Housebuilders and developers must consider how to help the homeowner, protecting them from water pressure issues while also safeguarding their own reputation. One such remedy that is cost-effective is to have water boosting products specified from the start.
David Williamson is sales & marketing director at Wilo UK