Badly Behaving Showers

With the increasing number of electric shower enquiries I’ve had in recent months, it occurred to me that I would make some recommendations on prolonging the life of your electric shower.

So what is an electric shower? Essentially, an shower which heats it’s own water and is fed from mains (cold) water only is classed as an elecgtric shower. This is not to be confused with a power shower, which mixes both hot and cold water from the domestic environment (typically hot and cold water tanks) and increases the pressure or “power” or the water by passing it through a pump. Other types of shower are generally described as mixer showers and will either be gravity fed from a hot and cold water tank or pumps remotely by a bathroom / shower pump.

The problems that can occur with an electric shower is almost always inside the heat vessel which is like a tiny immersion heater comprising a small tank or chamber which the water passes through and is heated by an electrical element. A lack of water, poor flow rate or high temperatures will  cause the life of this device to become shortened and there are three ways in which you can help to prevent this from occurring:

  • Firstly, ensure that the water supply is mains fed or adequately pressurised. This is something that the installer is responsible for but it is important that when carrying out work on the pipes which feed the shower itself, the water flow is not seriously restricted by add a high demand appliance such as a washing machine very close to the shower supply
  • The second consideration is to keep your shower head clear or limescale and debris build-up. This reduces the flow of water exiting the shower unit and can cause it to overheat when a high temperature setting is selected.
  • Lastly, try to remember to turn the flow rate on the shower up momentarily before switching it off. This is achieved by selecting a lower temperature (full cold is ideal) and will have the effect of cooling the element inside the heat vessel more quickly upon switching off. It doesn’t mean you have to stand under an icy cold shower but running it for a second or two at full flow and then switching off (just before the cold water hits you) will prevent the heater from being kept hot when it is turned off. Some advanced showers have this facility automatically, know as phased shut-down, and will “run-on” for a second or two after switching off. In this instance, running the shower cold as described is not necessary.

So, following these three simple steps ought to prolong the life of your shower. I have replaced two showers less than a year old so far since June 2013, because of such failures within the heat vessel which I’d like to think could have been prevented with a little more awareness of the steps that can be taken.