Help - the worlds worse shower

Hi,
I have just bought a new house which requires extensive renovation to remodel the inside and probably build an extension. One issue (of many!) I have which I need to resolve temporarily until the works are completed is my shower. It is one of those integrated bath mixer taps and shower head with the shower head fixed to the wall. The trouble is that the water literally dribbles out of the shower head making it almost unusable.
Having read the great posts here, I initially thought about spending 100 or so and fitting a shower pump but on investigation, from what I have read here and on the manufacturers websites, the plumbing would have to drastically change which I don't really want to do as we will be replacing the whole lot in around 6 months.
My layout is as follows.
I have a cold water storage tank in the loft with the hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard on the floor below next to the bathroom. Due to the way the house was extended previously, although they are on different floors, there is about a 5m horizontal distance between the hot water cylinder and cold water tank (if that makes any difference).
Problem 1 The hot water is taken from the top of the cylinder and has 3 branches (each with a cut off valve - the red round handle type) the 3rd of which is the one to my bathroom and what looks like a vent pipe back to the cold water tank upstairs. It would be easy to "break" into the bathroom feed pipe to put the pump in line but if I have read things correctly, the pump needs to be the first thing off the tank and have no valves between it and the tank. There is not enough room between where the pipe comes out of the tank to the first branch to cut it in there.....
Problem 2 There are 2 feeds from the cold water storage tank. One is a supply to the bottom of the hot water tank, the second for the rest of the house. Again, cutting in to this would be easy but I assume if I could solve problem 1 to just pump the hot water to the bathroom, I would then have pumped cold water but "normal" hot water throughout the rest of the house.
Is there a device which I can fit on the pipe run to the bath which would give me some more pressure? I am not looking for a power shower merely a usable one.
Sorry this is a little lengthy........
Once again, any help gratefully received as I am stumped on this one.
thanks
Lee.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

a central heating pump would boost the flow.
But if youve got a header tank in the loft supplying your HW, and the shower only trickles, something is wrong somewhere. I presume this is a 2 storey, not a 1?
NT
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On 23 Jan, 11:30, snipped-for-privacy@care2.com wrote:

Thanks for the reply.
I thought the same myself. I have stripped the tap down thinking there was a blockage on the shower side or the lever which switches from bath to shower was not opening correctly but it all looked OK. I also compared the bath flow rate to the shower flow rate(by time taken to fill a small bucket) and the bath appears to flow at about 1.5 times the shower. Looking at the way the taps have been made, the shower section is narrower than the bath one so I thought this was not the source of the problem.
It is a 2 storey house.
If I were to fit central heating pumps, I assume I would require one for the hot water and one for the cold and then manually switch them on after opening the taps?
thanks again
Lee.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

No, the block'll be somewhere else in the system by the sound of it.

then even with tortuous 15mm plumbing you should get passable shower flow, not great but quite workable. The height of the system plus a dribble really confirms summat's up somewhere.

What flow do you get at the bath taps? poor pressure on both lines? Cold water is better fed straight from the mains than via a header tank that can harbour rotting pigeons and dirt. System doesnt sound good, I'd be really wanting to sort it all out properly. For a short term patch you might choose to switch the pumps manually, but its not good practice, flow switch in each line is better. But really this is a rank bodge. You may find if the washing machine (or a cold tap) is on when you shower it wont fill, air will enter the pipes at the WM, and you'll lose all your cold water pressure boost at the shower, possibly resulting in scalding.
Really I'd look again at the existing system. If you follow all the pipes and see what goes where, for all water appliances in the house, maybe we can come up with some ways to pinpoint where the problem is. Need to know pipe sizes, what runs where, and so on. also need to know wwhat header tanks youve got, with rough sizes to figure it all out. There are people here with a lot more plumbing knowledge than myself, but I can see somethings wrong and that a full system description would be a good starting point.
NT
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On 23 Jan 2007 08:07:18 -0800 someone who may be snipped-for-privacy@care2.com wrote this:-

Is it really.

ISTM that you are rather out of date about the construction of such tanks. If the tank is properly constructed then pigeons and dirt are not going to get in, other than the dirt that comes in via the mains water. If one does have a tank then this dirt will settle out, rather than entering one's body.
Of course the tank may not be constructed properly, but that is true of anything.

Noted.
--
David Hansen, Edinburgh
I will *always* explain revoked encryption keys, unless RIP prevents me
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Thanks to all who have posted replies - they have been very usefull. I will check the suggested pumps out tomorrow and also see if there are any valves etc. which may not be fully turned onwhich may be slowing things down.
If people generally agree that the flow should be greater given the setup, the only thing I can think of which *may* impact it is the 5m (or more) horizontal run from the cold water tank across the loft before it drops into the airing cupboard. Is this a red herring?
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On 23 Jan 2007 03:11:54 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

You've descaled the shower head?
Thomas Prufer
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wrote:

Thanks for the reply.
The head and hose were pretty old so I ended up buying a new hose and head. Ironically, the old head was a little better because half the holes were blocked with scale..
thanks
Lee.
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An inline shower pump will probably do what you want. It'll pump anything downstream of it, so you probably don't want to arrange it with all the house plumbing after it, but having say the bath, shower and even toilet will probably be fine. (our bath, shower, washing machine, and toilet are all downstream of a shower pump on the cold supply, and it's fine, if occasionally a little disconcerting when the pump turns on and you're not expecting it).
Ours doesn't sit near the tank at all - it's rather closer to the shower. Obviously nearer the tank would be better, but it still seems to work.

As above.
We've got a triton pump which works fine. T450i I think - but our shower is electric. Looking at the installation guides for the T550i it seems all quite reasonable and would suit your needs. It says shower only, but for something short term like you're planning, I wouldn't worry too much about having the bath on there too. (heck, ours has been fine for > 10 years now - makes the bath fill faster :-) )
cheers, clive
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You can get away with a small shower pump in the space under the bath and only need to cut into the pipes to the taps. The problem with not taking a separate feed off the cylinder is that you might end up with the pump sucking air into the system if there is another hot tap open elsewhere. If this does happen you just have to make sure that the SWMBO isn't running a hot tap for the washing up whilst you're in the shower. Get something that delivers 1-1.5bar and your unlikely to have a problem anyway. I fitted a 2.5 bar pump on a split feed and the kitchen tap slowed down but didn't stop.
Something like http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?idF231&tsb061 should work fine. For that amount of money it's worth giving it a try. If it doesn't work (and it will) sell it on through ebay saying "used once" or something similar.
The manufacturers/best practice guides are designed to ensure that it is absolutely certain to work and so are pretty conservative.
I'm tempted to do it myself now to replace my electric shower even as a temporary measure (the electric shower is due to be replaced with the rest of the plumbing.
Fash
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Could the poor shower simply be due to a lack of head?
What is the vertical distance between the shower head and the water level in the header tank?
If it's less than a couple of metres the solution could be to raise the header tank to the highest point in the loft space.

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I would say it is around 2m at the moment. The loft is fairly low however so could only really raise it about 1m more. Would this have a significant impact?
thanks
Lee.

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Sorry - I meant to add that I check for half opened valves and they look ok. Looks like a pump it is. Does anyone have any other pump suggestions other than the 2 made so far or any other cunning plans???
thanks to everyone for your help.
Lee.
On 25 Jan, 11:42, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

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On Jan 25, 11:48 am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Whilst it won't make a dramatic change, add to your wish list the notion of replacing gate valves (as per your description if I read it right) with full bore valves. A gate valve doesn't fully open to the same diameter as the supply/outlet pipework, a full bore valve does.
In agreement with others, the guess is that there's a blockage somewhere. Often people see poor flow and jump to the "must fit a pump" conclusion - this can be 6 months down the line as you have indicated but for now I'd procrastinate and concentrate on fixing the blockage.
If the shower arrangement is thermostatic, is the hot water too hot and hence the device is throttling back the hot to balance it with a poor cold supply? When you run one hot tap then turn on another, does the first one's flow reduce dramatically?
All in the spirit of debugging your flow problem.
Perhaps back-flush down the hot supply (and cold supply) using mains cold pressure?
What diameter is the cold feed to the hot tank? Does it "rise continuously" from the hot tank up to the cold tank (to allow air to bubble out the pipe)? Air lock?
So many questions, so little time...
HTH
Mungo :-)
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Mungo,
Thanks very much for your reply. I have answered your questions below. Any help solving the problem is much appreciated...
thanks
Lee.

Nothing as fancy as that.... It is one of those all in one bath mixer taps with a shower

No. On the same feed from the hot water tank is the bathroom sink. I can have both running with little impact to flow.

How would I go about doing this?

The cold feed to the hot tank is 22mm and the hot feed out of the tank is 28mm feeding 3 pipes (one 15mm the other 2 are 22mm). The one feeding the bathroom is a 22m which feeds a sink and bath/ shower. Interesting question about the continuous rise. Horizontally (between the cold water tank and the hot water tank), there is about a 2m. ie if you were tracing thee cold water feed from the hot water tank, it goes from the tank horizontally to the wall (about 0.5m) then runs vertically up into the loft. It then runs horizontally for about 2m (maybe more) to the cold water tank. Do you think there could be an air lock as the pipe goes horizontal in the loft? If so, how could I determine this/ fix it?
Thinking again about debugging the issue, the cold water and hot water flow rate is roughly the same. Would this mean that any issue would be on the cold water feed?

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Hi Lee,
On Jan 26, 8:33 am, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Just attempting to repay the kindness shown to me here many years ago by others.

I guess that I'd be starting to dismantle the bath/shower mixer thinggy to see if (say) a washer has perished and is blocking some important bit of the mechanism. Perhaps something has got stuck in the diverter mechanism of this device?

Connect a hose to the mains water supply (I'm presuming this is quite healthy pressure). Connect the other end to a hot pipe, then force the water in the reverse direction along the hot pipe, back into the hot tank and let it fill up the cold tank from below. Just to try and "back flush". Don't do this too long or the cold loft tank will overflow - there is a working overflow on it, and you have tested it?
With mains cold at your washing machine, you can often use the hoses and fittings there as a quick means of back-flushing. Might not solve your problem though.

When you revamp this I'd upgrade the supply from 22mm to 28mm if its not a tortuous job. Even with a 28mm outlet, the most you will get is 22mm worth since its the supply that determines the output.

Nope. Unlikely for an airlock, but I'm just trying to prise you away from the "must fit a pump" conclusion and get you to explore other issues.

buckets and measure the flow: 1. Into the hot tank 2. Out of the hot tank 3. At the bath 4. At the shower.
Not a trivial task, but all in the spirit of debugging.
If it were my property, I'd be fixated on the bath mixer to see if the problem was there.
When you do fix this, post back here and let us know what the issue turned out to be (please).
HTH
Mungo
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Thanks Mungo.
Already dismantled the tap and nothing out of the ordinary and the change over lever seemed to be working OK. The tap outlets are much bigger than the shower one (you can see the reduction inside the fitting) and when I checked the flow from the taps v's the shower, the shower took a little longer to fill the bucket than the tap but nothing significant. I checked the basin taps (branch off the same feeds as tghe bath/ shower) also yesterday and the flow was near enough the same too. Also, when you put your finger over the running tap, you can't feel much pressure and can easily stop the water flow.
I'll try the "back flush" and see if it makes any difference. I'm not sure how to measure 1 and 2 but will do 3 and 4 a little more scientific..
thanks
Lee.

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Hi Lee, I'm running out of ideas now...
On Jan 26, 6:28 pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

Perhaps you come from a "power shower" background, hence anything less invigorating seems to be problematic? The reason I say this is because we already had a gravity shower in the present house where the flow was quite acceptable. Then I added an electric shower (10.8kWatt) upstairs and my kids were quite happy with it (preferring it because it was less distance to walk from their bedrooms).
At the end of December I finished our new ensuite bathroom and I installed a power shower (Stuart Turner 3.0 bar "monsoon" pump) and my sons won't use anything less powerful given a free choice! :-)
So perhaps the dribble is all you can hope for at the moment...
If the pipe from the tap up to the shower head is flexible, does the flow appear to reduce as you lift it from the tap height to its working height?
Many years ago my parents decided to go "modern" and install an over- bath shower. The local plumber was summoned and worked his magic. The setup was a 2 storey house: cold tank in loft, hot tank in an upstairs cupboard (directly underneath the cold tank) and shower above the bath already in the upstairs of the house. The plumber connected the hot feed to the shower off the hot tank expansion pipe that went back up into the loft.
Because of this lack of "head" from the top of the cold tank water level to the shower rose, if anyone ran the hot tap downstairs the level of hot water in the expansion pipe dropped below the draw-off for the shower: and since it was usually me using the shower I got the treat of a shower suddenly running cold! My dad always apologised for the "accident" but nowadays I'm not so sure (having three wonderful sons whose idea of cleaning their bedroom is to kick the floor-strewn clothes into a pile, maybes I could also become so "forgetful" !)
Ah plumbing: dontcha just love it...
Mungo :-)
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Mungo,
Thanks again for all your great help. I am stumped too. In answer to your questions, 1. As you raise the shower head, you do see a reduction in the flow from a bearable shower below the taps to a dribble when it is raised to standing height. 2. The last shower we had was more or less the same setup as here. Although that one wasn't great, it was usable. Our one bearly has enough force to get water out of all the holes and part dribbles back down the hose and the rest drops vertically from the hole!!!
Thanks again for all your advice - unfortunately, I think I will need to go for the salamander pump from Screwfix.
Lee.

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On 29 Jan, 19:28, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

<snip>
If you take the shower head and hold it 1m below its normal position, that is the same quality of shower that you will achieve by raising the header tank by 1m.
David
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