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Shower Pump Problems (FAQ) – 101 Guide to Everything You Need to Know

Shower Pump Problems (FAQ) – 101 Guide to Everything You Need to Know

A shower pump is the perfect addition to any bathroom if you have been suffering from low water pressure and are in need of a more refreshing shower. What do you really know about shower pumps though? Are you prepared for any potential problems and issues, or are you jumping in head-first?

This guide has been created to give you more guidance, and to help you understand more about shower pumps, how they work, and the issues that might need to be fixed down the line. So, if you want the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about shower pump problems, you better be ready to read below. 

Why is My Shower Pump Not Working? 

There are so many different reasons why your shower pump might not be working, and practically every reason is listed here in this guide for you to look through.

It could be anything from limescale to a leak caused by an excess of pressure or loose seals. Therefore, you should have no problem finding out what the problem is, as well as the potential solutions. 

A Leaking Pump 

If a pump is leaking, that usually means that there is an issue with the seals. These deteriorate over time, and so leaks tend to indicate that they need to be replaced. However, there could be several other causes for the leak in your pumps, and more of the symptoms can be found further down in this FAQ. 

A Cold Pump 

When you install a shower pump, it is important that you do not let it get cold or frosty as this can affect its functionality. The best way to avoid this is to protect it with insulation. By doing this, you keep it safe from the frost and also prevent it from getting cold. 

A Noisy Shower Pump 

You should expect some noise from your shower pump because they are not silent installations in any way, but excessive noise can prove to be a problem.

It could mean that the pump is jammed, and therefore the impellers are not able to rotate correctly. Generally, this is caused by limescale, seals that have become stuck, or an electrical issue. 

If the pipes are not flexible, it can cause a large increase in noise, and the same goes if there are no anti-vibration feet attached to the base. Improperly connected or placed piping may also create extra noise, as does pipework that has not been supported correctly. 

Airlocks 

This is quite a common problem, and they can end up restricting the flow of water quite substantially. In order to remove the air from the pump, you will need to bleed the system – which is actually quite easy to do. You can find instructions in the next question, below. 

shower pump

How to Bleed a Shower Pump? 

Before you start, make sure you shut down the electrical supply for the pump. Then, turn on the shower and ensure that it is completely emptied of water before switching it off again. You can then vent the pump directly by removing the connection pipes.

Blocked Pump Filters 

This is really common in hard water areas because there are more limescale and mineral deposits that build up and end up clogging shower heads and pipes. However, it can also affect the filters on your pump and restrict the water flow.

You don’t necessarily need a professional to come and fix it, and if you feel confident enough you can save a little cash by doing it yourself. Make sure the service valves have been switched off and that the electrical supply has been disconnected.

Once this has been done, you can remove the filters and clean them carefully; removing any limescale and debris. After replacing them, you can reconnect everything and go back to use as normal. 

Can a Shower Pump be Used with a Combi Boiler?

No, you cannot use a shower pump with a combi boiler. This is because they rely on mains pressure, which can be great in some situations, but also means it cannot be used with a shower pump. This is because there is no hot and cold tank, and so it can’t work with a pump because it would need separate hot and cold lines. 

Can a Shower Pump Freeze? 

Yes, a shower pump is just like any other piping system in your home – if it gets too cold it will end up freezing. This can be really damaging for a shower pump, and it should never be allowed to get too cold.

As we mentioned earlier in this FAQ, installing insulation around the pump should help to prevent freezing and rapid temperature drops. When you put the installation in, ensure there is a ventilation system to also prevent overheating. Ideally, a professional should undertake this task. 

How to Make a Shower Pump Quieter

There are a couple of ways you can reduce the amount of noise produced by your shower pump. The first, is with an anti-vibration mounting pad.

This offers you the perfect level of noise insulation, working to absorb motor noise and vibrations from the shower pump. You can also get a sound absorption mat, and this works in a similar way, as well as being an incredibly cheap solution. 

How Does a Shower Pump Switch on?

As soon as you start your shower and the water starts flowing, the pump will get to work. It needs water passing through its system so that it can boost the pressure and push the water out in a powerful stream.

The increased pressure also works against gravity as it travels upwards, which is why your overall pressure from the shower head is massively improved. 

Further Reading: Tips for Increasing Shower Pressure

How to Connect a Shower Pump? 

The process of connecting your shower pump can be complicated, and we actually have a detailed step-by-step for how to connect your shower pump up that you can read through.

However, we do strongly recommend that you have an electrician and plumber come out to do the work for you so that you know it meets safety standards and has been installed correctly. 

What is a Positive Shower Pump? 

These have been designed to be fed by gravity, and it needs at least a metre of distance (also known as a head) between the bottom of the cold-water cistern and the pump. The gravity feed will then serve to kick-start the pump, pushing water to the shower. 

What is a Negative Shower Pump? 

These are for use in a situation where it will be located at an equal level to, or above, the cold-water tank. This is so that it can take water from the tank and feed it to the shower, and the fact that it is such a compact pump makes it popular for use in bungalows. Plus, the position of the hot water cylinder doesn’t matter either. 

What’s the Difference Between Positive and Negative Pumps? 

The positive shower pumps are gravity fed, and they need a specific amount of distance between them and the cistern. The negative versions are able to be placed at an equal level to the tank, and are also designed to be used in smaller spaces. It all depends on your home and plumbing system. 

Why Does My Shower Pump Pulse?

While it may feel like the issue is with the actual shower pump, it is usually actually caused by a blockage in your plumbing system. This clog will cause a decline in the overall flow rate, creating a pulsing movement in the pump. It can be really difficult to determine exactly what is causing the issue, but here are some of the most common ones:

  • Limescale 
  • Blocked shower head
  • Blocked filters 

If it is not caused by any of the above, you should call a plumber out to investigate and figure out where the issue is within your plumbing. It is the safest bet for your home, and for your pipework. 

Digital Showers

Shower Pump Does Not Start 

There could be several reasons why your shower pump is not starting up, and most of them are best looked at and repaired by a plumber. Here are some of the main issues that could be occurring if your shower pump won’t start up:

  • It has been installed too far away and so cannot operate correctly
  • There is a blockage that is causing a drastic decrease in pressure
  • There is air in the pipe, and it needs to be bled 

Shower Pump Too Powerful 

Too much power, or flow, can actually become a major issue, even though it may not seem that way when you are taking a shower. How can it be an issue though? The three main problems caused by a shower that is too powerful can be found below:

  • A flow that is too strong can end up damaging the plumbing system
  • It can waste a lot of water, leading to much higher water bills than you were expecting 
  • It can use stored hot water way too fast, leaving none for the rest of the household

If you want to try and fix this, the best thing to try is partially closing the isolator valves on the outlet slide of the pump. Just make sure you do not restrict the flow on the inlet side.

Shower Pump Burning Smell 

A lot of the time, the burning smell is caused by a blockage in the filters. This is because the clog will cause the pump to essentially work against itself, causing the motor to overheat.

Unblocking and cleaning the filter, as well as rinsing any debris from the hose, should get things working normally again. However, you should also get a professional out to inspect the motor and make sure that things are working correctly.

Shower Pump Broken 

If your shower pump is no longer working and you can’t figure out what the problem is, there is only one course of action you can take. You need to call a plumber. They will be able to assess the situation and tell you what’s wrong with your shower pump, as well as fix it for you. 

Shower Pump Buzzing 

A buzzing or humming sound is a strong indication that your shower pump is jammed. If you live in an area with hard water, the most likely cause is limescale clogging up the machine, but it could also be due to a broken impeller. Sadly, no matter the cause, this particular issue almost always ends in the pump being completely replaced. 

Shower Pump Blowing Fuses 

There are a couple of reasons why a shower pump might be blowing a fuse. The first, and most common, is that you might be running too many electrical appliances at once, and the system simply can’t cope with the amount of power required. 

However, it could also be that there is an electrical short or fault within the pump that needs to be looked at by an electrician. Additionally, you could be using the wrong fuse for the pump. Make sure you use the exact fuse the manufacturer tells you to if you want it to work correctly.

Using one that is too powerful will cause it to short because it was not made to deal with that level of current, and one that is not powerful enough will not be able to work hard enough to get the pump working. 

Also Read: How to Fit a Power Shower

Shower Pump Comes on Randomly 

This can also be described as your shower pump turning itself on and off, so one moment it will be working fine, and then the next it’s not. This tends to be an issue seen in the higher end models, but that’s not a bad thing in any way.

The reason it does this is because the pump detects a leak in the system and shuts down before any further damage can occur. If this happens, you should check the system for leaks quickly, and possibly call a plumber out to fix it. 

Shower Pump Doesn’t Start Straight Away 

Sometimes, this is down to a faulty flow switch, and replacing it will be more than enough to get things working normally again. It is also the cheapest choice, so definitely worth trying before anything else. 

However, it is most likely due to there being incorrect space (or head) between the pump and the tank. While this is something you can fix yourself, the safest and most accurate option is to call out a plumber to do it for you. 

Shower Pump Hose Leak 

Leaks need to be dealt with quickly so that you can minimise damage to your home, as well as get things working correctly again quickly. Sometimes, wrapping PTFE tape around the leak will keep it secure, and there is also PTFE sealant that you can try. 

However, unless you are an expert, DIY jobs don’t always last as well as they could, and severe hose leaks may require professional attention. 

Shower Pump Jammed 

If your shower pump is jammed, there are a few things that could be causing it, and you can find them listed below:

  • Limescale has built up and caused a severe blockage 
  • The seals on the pump have become stuck and jammed it
  • The impeller is broken and unable to turn properly

Unfortunately, the prognosis for a jammed shower pump is not usually a good one, and you will often find that the whole thing needs to be replaced. 

Shower Pump on But No Water 

If there is no water, it is usually because there is a blockage that is causing a massively reduced flow through the pipes, sometimes blocking it completely.

This is often because of limescale, but it could also be due to air in the pump that needs to be vented (as described in the “Airlock” section of the FAQ). By clearing the blockage or bleeding the system of air, you should find free water flow returns to your pump. 

Shower Pump Replacement 

If your pump needs to be replaced, you’re going to need to start getting quotes from qualified installers. Generally speaking, you can expect a high-quality shower pump with twin impellers to be around £350 without the fitting cost. In total, you should have £500-£700 set aside so that you can pay for both the new pump and the installation costs. 

Shower Pump Running Dry 

Usually, the main symptom of this is the pump turning itself off every time you go to start it. The reason this happens is because most pumps actually have a protection system in place to prevent damage to the pump if the water supply gets interrupted.

Fixing this involves venting the system of air, something we explain in more detail at the start of this FAQ under “Airlocks”. 

How Long Should a Shower Pump Last?

Generally speaking, you can expect your shower pump to last for longer than the guarantee period. They tend to be quite reliable pieces of kit for your bathroom, and the average lifespan for a pump is eight years.

As a handy side note, you will find that most manufacturers will be happy to extend the guarantee by an additional year; and, in many ways, it’s a very reassuring feature. 

To Conclude

Hopefully, this guide has been able to help you learn more about the ways in which you can fix (or prevent) issues with your shower pump. From how to deal with the noise and the temperature, to the ways in which you can solve pulsing and general technical issues.

It’s always good to be fully informed before you have your shower pump installed, and you can never go wrong with a little extra knowledge.

What did you think of our shower pump problem FAQ? Were all your questions answered, and more? Are there places that we fell short? We love hearing from you, so let us know in the comment section below. 

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