A long, hot shower is one of life’s simple pleasures – but if you live in a terraced house, block of flats or even just an older home, a lack of water pressure can result in only a dribble of water escaping your showerhead.

Although it might not seem like a big deal to think about, low water pressure can be extremely frustrating, making it more difficult and much less enjoyable to shower. If you’re trying to get your shower back to its most powerful, read on for our guide to increasing shower water pressure.

How to calculate bar water pressure

If you have a low bar system like the gravity fed system, you should work out water pressure before deciding on the type of taps or shower you purchase, in order to make the most of your water pressure.

You can do this by using a pressure gauge tool to calculate the pressure, or by measuring the distance between the bottom of your water tank and the outlet of your tap. If your bathroom is on the first floor, to do this you would measure from the tap to the ceiling, and then from the attic floor to the bottom of the tank, allowing for the depth of the floor as well. Add all of these figures together, and then use the table below to calculate your water pressure.

Each metre of drop equals 0.1 bar of pressure. A measurement less than 1.0 bar is considered to be a low pressure.

1 metre drop 0.1   bar
2 metre drop 0.2 bar
3 metre drop 0.3 bar
4 metre drop 0.4 bar
5 metre drop 0.5 bar
6 metre drop 0.6 bar
7 metre drop 0.7 bar
8 metre drop 0.8 bar
9 metre drop 0.9 bar
10 metre drop 1.0 bar


Which water system do you have?

Gravity fed system

This system is generally found in older properties. Here, the cold-water tanks are stored in the attic, and hot water tanks are stored in an airing cupboard. Gravity fed systems are relatively rare nowadays, as most have been replaced with more space and energy efficient combi-boilers. This system is a low-pressure water system, meaning that you should choose taps and shower heads accordingly.

To increase the hot water pressure in a gravity fed system, install a water pump (see below).

Combi boiler system

With a combi boiler system, the boiler is usually wall mounted in the kitchen or utility room, or even in a cupboard. There are no cold or hot water storage tanks with a combi boiler. This high pressure vented water system supplies hot water on demand. You can expect water pressure to vary according to the boiler that you have, but usually they are between 1 and 2 bar.

Unvented system

An unvented system consists of a hot water tank but has no cold-water tank. This is a high-pressure system likely to be in an airing cupboard. The water is stored at mains pressure and is heated by immersion heaters when its needed.

Tips to increase water pressure in the shower

1. How to increase hot water pressure in a gravity fed system

Choosing the correct pump is important. Positive pumps are fed by gravity, they require a fall distance of at least 1 metre for the pump to work properly. Universal pumps work if the showerhead is level with or above the cold-water tank. Twin impeller pumps are designed for installation in hot and cold water supplies, and single impeller pumps can only be installed into one water supply.

2. Choose the best taps and shower for the job

Taps and showers are usually labelled in-store according to which water pressure they are best for. Choose the correct ones according to the water pressure system that you have in place. If you’re unsure, ask a sales assistant or check product reviews.

3. If you have a combi boiler

Ensure the stop cap is fully open in order to improve water pressure with a combi boiler. Systems should also be set to the minimum pressure level of 1 bar.

More shower upgrades

Improving your shower water pressure can make a huge difference to its usability and can put off renovations for years. It’s not the only way you can improve your shower experience, however.

If you’d like to improve your shower or wet room in other ways, consider:

Resealing your shower for better waterproofing and fewer leaks