One of the simplest of all types of showers to install is a bath/shower mixer. They are available in a variety of styles from ultra-modern to retro chic – when they look a little like old-fashioned telephones.
This type of shower is simply fitted like a standard bath mixer to the existing 22mm (3/4in) cold and hot water pipes, while drainage is through the bath’s waste outlet and pipe. You adjust the hot and cold taps to get the desired water temperature at the spout, and lift a button or lever on the spout to divert the water via the flexible hose to the showerhead. You can either hold the showerhead in your hand or attach it to the wall above the bath.
The only restriction with this type of shower is that it must not be fitted if the cold water is supplied to the bath tap under mains pressure, which would make it impossible to guard against fluctuations in pressure: if someone turned on a cold tap elsewhere in the house, the shower would run only hot water, which could be dangerous.
Thermostatic Shower Mixer
A thermostatic shower mixer eliminates all risks of danger or discomfort from the shower suddenly running hot or cold during use, since it delivers the water at a pre-determined temperature. If there is a drop of pressure on one side of the valve – either hot or cold – the pressure on the other side will be reduced to match it.
A thermostatic shower mixer also removes the need to take a separate cold supply direct from the cold water cistern. However, the pipes should be joined as close as possible to the cold cistern and hot cylinder. This mixer cannot raise the pressure of the supply so it won’t turn a trickle into a water cannon.
If the shower performance is poor, you may have to fit an electric booster pump: hot and cold pipes are fed to the pump then back again under higher pressure to the shower mixer. You will need a two core and earth cable running from the pump to a switched fuse connection which must be out of reach of anyone using the shower.
Shower and Bath Problems
- If there is insufficient water pressure in your shower, consider fitting a pump in the system.You can alter the flow and pressure by fitting a showerhead that adjusts to give different spray patterns. Note, it is not normally possible to install a pump shower if you have a combination boiler.
- It is worth fitting a compact trap under the shower tray. These have a lift-out tube making them easy to clean, and will catch hair and other debris that could form blockages.
- Grout at the edges of baths and showers can discolour and start to leak after a while.The only solution to this problem is to scrape it out and regrout. Remember that if you have a plastic shower tray, grout will not be flexible enough and you should seal the edges with flexible mastic.
- Shower curtains will not be enough to stop water escaping onto the floor if you have a powerful shower. Fit a metal-framed or plastic-panelled unit with hinged, sliding or concertina doors that can be closed when you are inside and the water is turned on.
- Clean and descale your showerhead.