If you live in North America it's quite likely you've never heard of a shower pump. Shower pumps are quite common in the United Kingdom, where often a home's hot water supply is in the attic and the water pressure is less than enough to power a “real” shower. However, shower pumps are starting to find a place in many American homes as people upgrade their bathrooms by installing high performance, luxury showers in their homes. Many of the features in a luxury shower such as multiple shower heads and jets, waterfall showers and steam generators require more pressure than can be provided by the water supply system, so a shower pump is necessary to provide a water pressure boost. If you're considering a new "luxury" shower, you may be interested in learning a little about shower pumps.
Why do luxury showers need a shower pump?
Multiple shower heads and jets use more water than a normal shower, so quite likely the water supply lines to the shower need to be enlarged and a pump is needed to ensure an adequate water supply. The very popular steam showers also require much more water than a regular shower head, necessitating a shower pump be installed in the system.
So what's to know about shower pumps?
Shower pumps need to be positioned horizontally on a flat, stable area. This often means the pump is either located in the basement, near the water heater or in the attic.
There are two types of shower pumps available, single impeller and twin (or double) impeller. The single impeller design pumps a mixture of hot and cold water after it has passed through the mixing valve in the shower so it must be installed close to the shower (often in the attic). The twin impeller model pumps both hot and cold water, so there is more flexibility in its location, but it's often located near the water heater. Regardless of the pump's design, shower pumps can deliver between 3 and 6 gallons of water per minute. A low flow shower head uses approximately 2 gallons per minute.
How do I choose the proper pump for my home?
There is no one choice that's right for everyone and choosing the proper pump for any home requires consideration of two factors.
The first consideration is how much water will the shower unit require (in gallons per minute). Obviously buying a pump that can't deliver the necessary amount of water is a waste of money. The second consideration is of the region where you live. If you live in an area where the temperature routinely drops below freezing in winter, locating a single impeller pump in the attic isn't a practical choice. Use your shower requirements and your climate to settle on a shower pump type that suits you best.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer whose work has appeared on numerous web sites, as well as in newspapers and books in both the U.S. and Canada. He is regularly cited as an expert on home related topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com.