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How To Boost Your Water Pressure

Are you frustrated by low water pressure? Have you ever wondered if there is a simple way to improve the pressure in your shower? These are issues we commonly come across and there are a variety of solutions depending on your circumstances and budget.

What affects pressure?

Kilopascal (Kpa) is the measurement used for water pressure. Kpa changes based on whether something like water, is contained or free-flowing, for example, the water pressure held in a pipe where the tap is turned off is higher than when the water is running through the tap. Things that affect water pressure include atmospheric pressure, pipe size, pressure reducing valves, water heaters, and choice of tapware.

Can you change your water pressure?

Yes, you can, depending on your situation and your budget things can be put in place to minimise disruption, whether you need more pressure or just want to reduce pressure as a water-saving solution.

What is typical in a NZ home?

Mains cold water supply to a property’s water meter is usually around 200Kpa and this then provides the potential pressure at all water outlets.

Before the invention of high-pressure mains water cylinders, low-pressure cylinders were an efficient, cost-effective hot water solution for the home. In situations where there is a low-pressure hot water cylinder, the most regular complaint is that there is good pressure around the property except the shower. Low-pressure hot water cylinders commonly have a natural vent that looks like a long copper pipe extending through the roof. The cylinder will have a valve known as a pressure-reducing valve, normally found on the pipe entering the base of the cylinder. This valve reduces the mains cold water pressure before it enters the cylinder. This ultimately affects the resulting pressure at the hot water tap or shower.

In some cases, to keep the hot and cold pressure equal at the shower, the cold water supply for the shower is taken from the pressure reduced mains cold water before it enters the hot water cylinder.

Easy solutions to boost shower pressure

There are some simple ways to slightly boost the pressure at the showerhead, some you can do yourself, others need a qualified plumber;

  • Changing out your shower mixer

  • Changing your shower hose

  • Changing your shower head

Boosting existing cylinder pressure

If you have a low-pressure cylinder there are solutions available to maximise your pressure

  • Up-rating the pressure reducing valve

  • Installing a hot water booster pump

  • Upgrading to a mains pressure hot water cylinder or heat pump hot water cylinder

Is gas hot water better?

Gas is one of the most efficient ways of heating hot water and there are a couple of options available; hot water storage versus instantaneous hot water. There are many different makes and models that run on either natural gas or LPG, there are also internal and external installation options.

Hot Water Storage

The advantage of having a hot water storage unit is that you will have enough stored hot water if you live in an area prone to power cuts, the disadvantage is that the cylinder regularly uses energy throughout the day and often the night, to maintain the stored water at the correct temperature even when it’s not being used, another disadvantage is the amount of space that these units often take up.

Instantaneous Hot Water

The advantages of having an instantaneous water heater are that when there is no demand for hot water then no energy is being used, the water is only heated when the tap is turned on, as well as being economical on power, they are also economical on space. The disadvantage only comes into play if there is a power cut as the heating unit requires power to generate the initial spark and run the other components such as the fan, circuit boards etc. There are models available that will run without the need for power, they use the force of water flowing through the valve network to operate, but these units have a lower water flow rate than the powered versions. The reported cost savings of gas versus cylinder hot water is over $100 per month.

What if I’m on tank water?

All the above solutions apply even where a collection tank is the main supply of water. The most important things to check when on tank water are the filters, these need regular checks and/or replacements depending on the location of the tank (whether there are trees close by), and what material the tank is made out of.

There is also a range of pressure pumps suitable for this type of installation. The location of the pump is important, as close as possible to the water tank is preferred, the life of the pump will be short if it has to work too hard getting the water before it can create the desired pressure.

To reduce the demands on a water pressure pump, a pressure vessel can be added so that, for example, should someone flush the toilet in the night, the pressure built up in the vessel could be just enough to fill the toilet cistern without activating the pump, this will also reduce noise levels if the pump is situated close to the property.

As you can see, improving your water pressure is possible and there are many ways that you can achieve this based on your budget and desired outcome.

  • Budget solution…mixers, shower hoses and heads

  • Medium range solution…up-rating valves, pump installations or cylinder upgrades

  • Best solution (bang for buck)…gas installation

Top 5 things to consider when looking at boosting your water pressure

  1. Do you own the property?

  2. Need more space?

  3. What’s your desired outcome (just shower pressure or whole house solution)?

  4. Budget, we can design a solution to maximise your budget and give you the best potential outcome.

  5. Accessibility. If you are interested in an LPG gas installation, several criteria must be met in terms of location and accessibility. We can discuss these with you.

OR something else, the overall outcome is to provide you with continuous running hot water every time you turn on the tap and at a pressure that will not alter when other outlets are being used.

If you’re not sure what the right solution is for you, get in touch and we can go through these options with you.



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