It’s all well and good investing in a beautiful new bathroom, with a wonderful shower. But, if your water pressure is no good, you’ll simply be left disappointed.

Low water pressure is a common complaint up and down the country. If your home suffers from this, then the effects are obvious. Instead of a rapid flow through your taps and shower, you are more likely to be faced with a slow dribble of water – most certainly resulting in a thoroughly unsatisfying shower experience.

But what actually is water pressure?

Put simply, water pressure is the measure of force to get water through the mains and into your pipework.

Pressure is measured in “bars” – one bar being the equivalent to the force required to push water up to the height of 10 metres.

As you are probably already well aware, water pressure can vary greatly from home to home, room to room and even at different times of the day.

Generally, mains water pressure depends on where your home lies in relation to the nearest reservoir or supply. If you live atop a hill, your water pressure is likely to be weaker than someone whose home is situated at the bottom of a valley, simply due to how quick the flow will be to that destination. Uphill = Flow is weaker as it works against gravity. Downhill = Flow is stronger as gravity aids it.

To get an idea of how this affects your mains water pressure, check with your local water authority. Find out where the nearest reservoir is and plot a course between that and your home. Is your home higher or lower than the reservoir?

Of course, no matter how good or bad your initial water pressure is, demand for water will also affect it. Between 7-9 in the morning, you may experience lower water pressure as other people in your area also use water for baths and showers. Warm summer evenings may also mean a lack of water pressure as people water their gardens.

Flex slider rail kit

If your mains water pressure is poor, even a beautiful shower like this Flex slider rail kit, will leave you feeling less than invigorated

How can I test my water pressure?

There is a simple way to accurately measure your water pressure:

  1. Get a water jug (preferably 1 or 2 litres in size)
  2. Get a stopwatch (usually found on most mobile phones)
  3. Place your jug under a tap and turn it on
  4. Time 6 seconds on your stopwatch & turn your tap off.
  5. If you're a whizz at maths, you can do the next bit in your head (or simply use a calculator - found on most mobile phones). Take the amount of water in the jug in litres (e.g. 0.8 litres) and multiply this by 10. This will give you your flow rate in litres per minute (e.g. 0.8 litres x 10 = 8 litres per minute).
  6. If your flow rate is less than 10 litres per minute, you have what is considered low water pressure. Anywhere between 10 - 15 litres per minute is acceptable, but can be improved. A flow above 15 litres per minute is considered good.

Mode Ellis thermostatic triple shower valve complete shower set

If you have a combination shower, like the Mode Ellis complete shower set, a shower pump is highly recommended

What can I do to improve my water pressure?

Water pressure is not really much of an issue when it comes to washing your hands, brushing your teeth or washing your dishes, but it will significantly affect the performance of your shower and how quickly you can fill your bath.

The first thing you need to do is identify which home water system you have. To find this out, head over to our blog post "Do I need a shower pump?" where we've provided a handy infographic which will help.

If you have a combi boiler system the following may help:

  • Ensure your stop tap is fully open
  • Ensure any systems are set to the statutory minimum level of 1 bar

If you have a gravity fed system (the most common in the UK), you can always add a shower pump. These can be purchased from around £124 and will improve the performance of your showers and taps, no matter how good your mains water pressure currently is.

For further information, check out our shower pump buying guide.